Southface Leadership’s 2018 Sustainability Forecasts
by David Bailey, Project Manager Regenerative Places & Spaces, Southface
A new year means a new wave of technological and scientific advancements that will further the impact of the resilience movement. In 2017 Tesla introduced its solar roof shingles and The Living Futures Institute expanded its Living Product Certification – the landscape was replete with exciting, emerging possibilities for reducing carbon and contributions to climate change. 2018 will undoubtedly be no different as technology and science continue to shape the way humans interact with the natural world.
As the excitement builds for 2018 we asked the Southface Leadership team for their thoughts on what’s in store for 2018. The prompt: As we head into 2018, what new technology, science, or developments do you see playing a key role in the sustainability and energy industries? What shifts in trends do you see impacting the work that we do and how we do it?
Andrea Pinabell, President:
Health and wellbeing will continue to be a mega-sustainability trend as a part of the larger resilience conversation. We can no longer look at energy, water or carbon in isolation, and the impact of the built environment on a human wellbeing scale will continue to drive our work in 2018 and beyond. I am also interested to see the trends in integrating sustainability and resilience into the common vernacular of place-making and decision-making for everyone. It is much more commonplace to hear these phrases as a part of the resilience conversation, even as compared to five years ago. At Southface, we will continue to work with governments, the private sector and other nonprofits to work towards a better planet, which in turn is better for the people who live on it.
Jaimie Cohen, Manager, Marketing, Communications + Outreach:
I am incredibly interested in the role of emerging technologies as they relate to mobility. From autonomous vehicles to electric vehicles, the possibilities are endless for carbon reduction, new and regenerative economies and the future of urban mobility. What’s even more exciting is how these new technologies will impact local communities, especially in the context of Atlanta roadways and public transportation. This advancement in bringing people together has a lot of potential in providing sustained growth to the region.
Shane Totten, Director, Research + Incubation:
Advances in building and portfolio automation will become a more prominent development, as more intelligent building systems are capable of producing not only high performance operations but also optimized conditions for human health and well-being. As with any new technology, though, the challenges of reliable system programming can undermine the reputation of such systems, and thus reliability and effectiveness will remain a priority in technological advancement. Responses to the effects of climate change and efforts to prevent further decline will also have to be achieved at scale, especially when thinking about the built environment. Buildings consume up to half of electricity generated in the United States, and we must understand that green buildings aren’t going to have regional or global impact when they represent 1% of the existing building stock (U.S.). Instead, we must devote attention to the remaining 99% in order to make a substantial impact regarding the role of buildings in climate change related issues.
Brad Turner, Director, Education + Training:
The idea of the Internet of Things has really taken the world by storm. I predict that increased direct data capture, performance reporting and analysis, and an automated response of components (i.e. HVAC systems or lighting) will bring a level of customized performance to both buildings and occupants. The business and valuation of healthy homes is also something that will continue to rise in 2018, as increased understanding will bring an increase in market demand. Finally, I see the development of adaptive communities being encouraged, especially in high-risk ecological areas like floodplains. Intentional growth and knowledge of development’s impact on ecosystems will remain critical this year.
Robert Reed, Senior Director, Regenerative Places + Spaces:
I foresee that the push for Green Infrastructure by regulatory, regional and national entities will expose a shortage in skilled labor for installation, operation and maintenance. There has been a positive drive for increased Green Infrastructure projects, especially in the Atlanta area, and organizations will have an opportunity to actively monitor and assess the success of these installations for years to come. Public Relations work, a focus not often talked about within the context of sustainability, will also need to stay ahead of potential bad press from failed installations.
Lisa Bianchi-Fossatti, Director, Policy + Systems Technology:
I believe that energy storage remains well-positioned as the next disruptive technology in the power sector. We’ll see installed capacity continue to grow as costs continue to drop. The utility business model will also continue to evolve as load growth and energy demand remain flat while consumer needs change and market pressures increase (e.g., ancillary and behind the meter services). All of these factors will create new challenges and opportunities for us and our partners in our advocacy and programmatic work. I’m also encouraged by the rapid adoption rates of electric vehicles (EVs). As cities, states and regions move forward in their efforts to decarbonize and utilities continue to innovate and explore opportunities such as “beneficial electrification” (the idea of electrification of energy end uses traditionally powered by fossil fuels), it will no doubt be an interesting year ahead!