Many of the keynote and session speakers noted the impact and motivation of the book Drawdown, edited by Paul Hawken. The book provides a ranking of the 100 solutions to global warming by the total gigatons of carbon dioxide they could remove from the atmosphere or prevent from being emitted.
A substantial section of the book is devoted to buildings and how they can help draw down the carbon in the atmosphere within the next 30 years. These solutions include net zero buildings (ranked #54 in Drawdown), green roofs (#73), LED lighting (#33 household and #44 commercial), heat pumps (#42), smart thermostats (#57), insolation (#31) and building automation (#45).
Many of these solutions are key to the Living Building Challenge already, but some are more nascent. For example, the most impactful solution in terms of its ability to reduce GHG emissions to the atmosphere is refrigerants. Many refrigerants are powerful GHGs with warming potentials 100 to 10,000 times more potent than carbon dioxide. These refrigerants are commonly employed in building heating and cooling systems, which can leak over their lifetime, require recharge and must be properly disposed of at end-of-life.
A session on GHG emissions accounting at the conference highlighted the important role that building designers and engineers play in selecting systems that use refrigerants with lower global warming potentials and are less likely to leak over their lifetimes.