This episode of the BS* + Beer show centers on topics covered in Bruce King’s book, “The New Carbon Architecture: Building to Cool the Climate.” The author, as well as contributor Chris Magwood, join us to share insights into the building industry’s role in addressing carbon emissions.
The panelists talk about China and India, and how the magnitude of their concrete-based construction impacts U.S. efforts to curb greenhouse emissions. They tackle the question: Are those efforts all for naught, given what is happening overseas? Notably, Chris takes the opportunity to acknowledge the many biologically based building materials that are coming out of those very same countries. “In some ways, they are kicking our butts in terms of how they are working with agriculture materials and turning them into building products,” he says. “I wish I had access to half of what I see being made in China.”
The conversation pivots to the problems associated with scaling alternative products to serve a mass market—are carbon incentives a viable solution to those hurdles? What is code’s role in moving such products into the industry?
In response to a question about tracking carbon during construction, Chris talks about the materials emissions calculator he and his colleagues at Builders for Climate Action are set to release this fall. It is designed to provide a user-friendly comparative look at all of the potential materials available to reach the R-values and other criteria of a given construction plan. This turns into a discussion about the data tools at our disposal and how they might be better integrated.
Other areas of deliberation include: post-consumer glass as aggregate in concrete, the future of carbon-emissions profiles as integral to a project’s viability, the value of Environmental Product Declare labels (EPDs) for market reform, and the relative ratio of transportation to manufacturing processes in Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs).
If you are someone who cares passionately about solving the climate crisis, and you want to understand the products and resources available to help inform your decisions, tune into this episode—it is sure to inspire . . . and spark even more conversation.
Enjoy the show!
Join us on Thursday, October 1, from 6 to 7:30 pm, when guests Glenn Mathewson and John Deans will wrangle the topic “Building Codes: Where did they come from, where should they go?” This promises to be a meaty debate around those enforced requirements we all love to hate—for so many varied reasons. There’s a good chance air tightness, water management, energy efficiency, and fire-, wind-, and flood-resistance will make their way into the exchange. Where it will go from there—it’s fun to guess.
Glenn Mathewson began his construction career in 1996 in the trenches, starting as a laborer and carpenter’s apprentice at the age of 19. Learning quickly from quality mentors he progressed to framing homes as a subcontractor and later operating his own remodeling and deck-construction company. In 2005, Glenn packed up his tools and became a building, plumbing, and mechanical inspector for the City of Westminster, CO. For the next 13 years, he grew in responsibilities at the City in roles as inspector and plan reviewer, and he earned his Master Code Professional Certification from ICC. In 2007, he taught his first building code class, Building Codes for Building Decks, for a local lumberyard, and this began his 10-year development in writing, teaching, and consulting, while still working full time for the City.
Glenn has authored over 70 technical articles in publications such as “Professional Deck Builder,” “The Journal of Light Construction,” “Fine Homebuilding,” and “The Building Safety Journal,” as well as the International Code Council’s book, “Deck Construction Based on the 2009 International Residential Code.” In 2011, he took the role as Technical Advisor to the North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA), where he assists the association with code-related initiatives and the development of the Master Deck Professional, Codes and Standards Certification. He represented the decking industry in the ICC code development process for the creation of many of the deck provisions first published in the 2015 IRC and again for the 2021 IRC. He is a professional speaker and educator in residential codes, with audiences ranging from contractors to building officials at both public and private events.
In 2012, he began exploring the use of technology to make codes more accessible and understandable. At the end of that year, he opened www.BuildingCodeCollege.com, an emerging ICC-approved Preferred Provider online school, with the goal of creating a platform to offer his and other instructors’ teachings. For the next 6 years, while still working as an inspector and advisor, he worked on developing online classes and a reputation for quality code education that dives into the “intent and purpose” of the code provisions.
In 2018, Glenn took the big leap, and after 13 years with the City of Westminster, he left the City to pursue full-time commitment to code education through BuildingCodeCollege.com. Drawing on his experience as a tradesman, contractor, consultant, and building inspector, he is able to review, discuss, and teach the standards of construction with a true understanding of the realities involved with applying them in the field.
John Deans is a carpenter and marketing director for Emerald Builders. He has been with the company since 2017. For almost a decade, John was an organizer and campaigner for environmental and progressive causes, including a long stint at Greenpeace USA. He loved fighting the good fight, but found himself increasingly chained to a laptop and cell phone. Yearning to breathe fresh air again and to work with his hands, he joined Emerald. Along with lending his carpentry skills, he is the in-house sustainability expert and spends part of his time promoting the company’s work.
-You can contact Kiley Jacques at [email protected]. Photo courtesy of Michael Maines.