November 16: Fred Gordon, “Addressing the Climate Crisis at (almost) No Cost with a New Type of Building”

Fred Gordon photoFred Gordon works at Second Street Associates, a developer of environmentally advanced buildings.

Addressing the problem of climate change is typically either from the supply side—how to develop new technologies which produce energy without polluting, or the load side—how to achieve the benefits (comfort, work) with as little energy as possible.  Gordon works on the load side, specifically on buildings which cut energy loads by 70% or more but which are more comfortable, healthful, and no more expensive. The standards and technologies of Passivhaus, a building standard developed in Europe, and which the American architectural community has been unable match are utilized by the company. This talk will identify how these buildings work, and how to make it possible to clear design thresholds that had limited American energy efficient buildings. It also will explain the science generally and how we employ it in our 200,000 square foot 65-unit residential development which we’ve broken ground on in South Boston.

Working on this building has been an education in the problems of constructing buildings in general.  The architectural and building communities, and government policy-makers, have wasted huge amounts of time and money on things that don’t work well.  This particular effort has forced us to confront the problems of an industry which has been structurally incapable of responding to the environmental crisis, and to join with others who are trying to revolutionize architecture and construction.