In the face of dire warnings of UN IPCC report, building owners in Greater Philadelphia can help lead the way in curbing climate change

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its report this week indicating that, globally, governments must initiate “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” so that we can mitigate the forthcoming catastrophic results of climate change.

Because buildings are responsible for almost 40 percent of global energy consumption and therefore massive amounts of greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel generation, Philadelphia has taken a leadership position by, among other actions, implementing the International Construction Codes (ICC) of 2018. The new regulations took effect Oct 1.

It’s now up to those of us who design, build, operate, and maintain buildings to step up our game.

Managing building performance is key

First costs can no longer be our primary driver in decisions about how buildings are constructed and maintained. Instead, we must prioritize the actual performance of buildings throughout their life-cycles.

There are a growing number of cost-effective tools and methods that can be implemented to ensure every building performs per the code while minimizing the impact on the climate and creating indoor environments that benefit the occupants. Every building can be more efficient and sustainable than it is today, and by taking aggressive action we can do what’s right for our own and future generations, and we can also create an economic engine for Greater Philadelphia while doing so.

Investing $3 billion in Center City building upgrades would create 40,000 living wage jobs

One recent analysis estimates that by investing $3 billion to upgrade buildings in Center City, we can create 40,000 jobs – jobs in the building trades that can’t be offshored and that will provide a living wage with associated benefits. Our state and local governments are taking action, the private sector is innovating, and we need everyone engaged so we can meet the UN IPCC’s goal of staying below an increase of 1.5 deg C.

Every day at the Graboyes companies we:

And we know we’re not alone in offering tools and expertise that can make a difference, providing win-win pathways for advanced building performance and for the needed capital to be invested in buildings for deep energy efficiency.

We have only one planet, so let’s step up now. It’s already long overdue, and we need to do everything we can to course correct before it’s even more profoundly too late. We can get this done by partnering and innovating together.


Ellis Guiles, P.E., LEED AP, is a building performance advisor to Graboyes Smart Buildings and Graboyes Efficiency Tenant and president of Graboyes Commercial Window Company. He can be reached at [email protected].