Join us at the upcoming Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning focus event on October 7, 2021 (7:20 pm eastern time).
4.100 ROUNDTABLE - BUILDING A BETTER BUILDING POLICY: COMMUNITY COLLABORATION TO ACHIEVE CLIMATE RESILIENCY OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
Abstract ID: 100
Gretchen Worth, Susan Christopherson Center for Community Planning, Cornell University
Jennifer Minner, Associate Professor in the Dept of City and Regional Planning, Just Places Lab
, Assistant Professor in the Dept of Architecture, Circular Construction Lab
Susan Holland, Executive Director of Historic Ithaca.
Buildings in the United States – our homes and offices, schools and shops – contribute 40 percent of the country’s total carbon emissions. We cannot achieve a carbon-neutral future without addressing our existing building stock, nearly two-thirds of which will also exist in 2050 (Architecture 2030, 2021). Such actions include implementing low-carbon retrofits as well as adopting deconstruction – rather than demolition – as a more sustainable way to address the waste of non-renewable resources such as old-growth wood and other building materials that currently go to landfills (Fraanje, 1997). In addition to positive environmental impacts, such actions can provide socio-economic benefits such as green job creation and enhanced skills training, historic preservation opportunities, and wider availability of valuable building materials (Bertino, 2021). They can help the extractive construction sector move toward a more sustainable circular economy based on maintenance, repair, adaptation and reuse of our built environment (Huuhka, 2019).
However, municipalities cannot rely solely on market mechanisms (such as those found in the real estate sector) to create an environment suitable for thoughtful treatment of the existing built environment and the resulting creation of a circular economy (Hassler, 2009). Instead, legal and institutional interventions are often necessary, such as adoption of local ordinances bolstered by active community education and engagement efforts targeted at building owners and occupants.
With this in mind, university educators and community leaders in central New York have come together to encourage municipal adoption of practices and policies to create a more equitable and resilient built environment.
Through the sharing of research, resources and networks, collaborators are working to promote the adoption of low-carbon retrofits, methods to address building material waste, the development of a circular economy, and the creation of equitable green jobs. The collaboration is focused on four areas: (1) education and community engagement, (2) research and resource development, (3) policy and practice recommendations, (4) equitable green jobs creation and skills training.
Roundtable participants, including two educators and two community leaders in the fields of planning, preservation and architecture, will discuss methods of university-community partnership to involve students and community groups in efforts to strengthen resilience of the built environment. Participants will discuss their experiences working together to promote municipal practices and policies to employ low-carbon retrofits appropriate for historic resources, encourage deconstruction and a circular construction economy, and create racially and socially just green jobs. They will draw on their efforts as members of CR0WD (Circularity, Reuse, Zero Waste Development), a collaborative, multi-disciplinary task force that works with New York State communities to promote sustainability of the built environment.
• Architecture 2030 (2021). “Why the Building Sector?”
• Bertino, G.; Kisser, J.; Zeilinger, J.; Langergraber, G.; Fischer, T.; Österreicher, D. (2021). “Fundamentals of Building Deconstruction as a Circular Economy Strategy for the Reuse of Construction Materials.” Applied Sciences. 11, 939. doi.org/10.3390/app11030939
• Fraanje, P.J. (1997). “Cascading of Pine Wood,” Resources, Conservation and Recycling. 19, 21–28,
• Hassler, U. (2009). “Long-term building stock survival and intergenerational management: the role of institutional regimes,” Building Research & Information, 37:5-6, 552-568,
• Huuhka, S., & Vestergaard, I. (2019). “Building Conservation and the Circular Economy: A Theoretical Consideration,” Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development, 10(1), 29-40.
Key Words: built environment, climate resiliency, deconstruction, circular economy, green jobs