Now in season three of ArchitectChats, we are continuing our Dissecting the Code series, which highlights leaders and initiatives in the AEC profession that are ensuring the structures that we design meet the evolving demands of today's world.

It’s hard to ignore the effects of climate change, whether it be in the increasingly frequent and severe weather events, disruptions to agriculture and animal migration patterns, or the imminent submersion of entire villages, cities, and countries. Buildings have a significant impact on the environment, accounting for 39 percent of the energy consumed in this country, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Have any of the formal and informal initiatives intended to improve the performance of our building stock, including energy codes, the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED rating system, and the AIA 2030 Commitment, had an impact?

Barbra Batshalom
Barbra Batshalom

Yes, says Barbra Batshalom, founder and CEO of the Sustainable Performance Institute (SPI) in Boston, but architects could be doing a lot more. In fact, she notes, the barriers to achieving universal net-zero design are, in large part, internal to firms. In this episode, Batshalom explains how architects often keep themselves from achieving their sustainability ideal, the role of building codes in pushing the needle forward, and her five-step process for designers interested in steering their firms onto the path of sustainability—even if they don't have the keys to the car.

Batshalom is a trained architect with more than two decades of experience in design and consulting. Along with heading SPI, she has held leadership roles at the U.S. Green Building Council and its affiliates, and has consulted architects, universities, and even cities on how to attain their sustainability promises.

Episode 25: Dissecting the Code, Part 7 - Why Buildings Are Still Energy Hogs (Hint: It Involves Architects), featuring Sustainable Performance Institute founder and CEO Barbra Batshalom, is available on SoundCloud and on iTunes.


This episode of ArchitectChats was brought to you by the ICC Evaluation Service, and produced by Wanda Lau, Lauren Honesty, and Henrietta Biayemi.