The Boston Globe hosted Sustainability Week 2022 to celebrate Earth Day all week with various events and webinars. Yesterday, I listened in on “The Carbon-Free House of 2030” session moderated by Eileen McEleney Woods of The Boston Globe, with panelists Nick Falkoff of Auburndale Builders in Newton, Arah Schuur of Northesat Energy Efficiency Partnerships, and Chris Porter of National Grid in New England.
The 40-minute discussion centered on Massachusetts’s housing stock (which is the second oldest in the country nearing a median 60 years old, close behind New York state which is just a few years older), and the need to retrofit these homes with better insulation and more efficient HVAC systems powered by air source heat pumps rather than natural gas or oil-powered furnaces and boilers. We all know now that electrification of our homes is key to reducing our carbon emissions, of which 27% originates from our homes. Solar is the natural progression once a home’s envelope and systems have been addressed, to further mitigate our reliance on and supplement the power grid.
New construction of passive homes, high-performance homes, and LEED-certified homes were also touched on briefly. Another topic mentioned was the tradeoffs of spray foam insulation, which while generally favored for superior air-tightness, higher R-value, and easier maintenance, may not actually be as green-friendly as cellulose insulation due to spray foam’s higher flammability, petroleum composition, and possible toxic chemicals. Lastly, while Massachusetts is moving towards more environmentally sustainable standards, Nick Falkoff of Auburndale Builders reminded the panel that education of the trades is our biggest bottleneck right now on the transition to carbon-free homes in the next decade. Absent supply chain disruptions, we may have the technology and continuous improvement to get us to where we need to be, but in addition to educating homeowners, it’s the home builders and tradesmen, who are in high demand due to the current housing inventory shortage, that will need to learn, become experts, and lead the charge in implementing sustainable building materials, systems, and practices.
Watch the full discussion of “The Carbon-Free House of 2030”.
Also, these additional resources were provided as a follow-up, courtesy of The Boston Globe Sustainability Week “Carbon-Free House of 2030” panel:
Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships
NEEP’s Heating Electrification Initiative
Cold Climate Air Source Heat Pump Product List
Mass Save No-Cost Home Energy Assessments for Homeowners
Mass Save Residential New Home Construction Incentives
Heat Pump Information & Rebates
Passive House Institute US
Passive House Massachusetts
The Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA)
Studio for High Performance Design and Construction (SHPDC)
Green Building Advisor
Philips’ Environmental, Social and Governance (sponsor)
From Aviator Properties Team, we believe every day is Earth Day and it’s our aim to improve the planet one home at a time! As your local Greater Boston real estate professionals, we hope the information provided here can help just a little to point us towards a greener future. Our mission is to go above and beyond to elevate your real estate experience, and we look forward to educating and informing our clients on the benefits of sustainable homeownership.