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April 22, 2020
High performance & sustainability

We hear this saying a lot these days: We're in this together.

Today marks the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day. It's an important milestone and a good reminder of how connected we are to each other and to our environment. As we observe this day via social distancing, it brings to light a simple truth: the actions of one individual can impact others.

Many of our long-term concerns have been eclipsed by the short-term reality, but the good news is there are measures we can take to improve our current health and well-being while making a difference on the future of our world. The built environment impacts our health - and the effects are far reaching and long-lasting. This is why at Pepper we are committed to high performance construction. We're focused on four drawdown solutions: refrigeration, solar rooftops, insulation and water savings, in addition to healthy materials.

The concept of drawdown aims to draw down greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Think of it as removing them or keeping them from getting into the atmosphere in the first place. One way to accomplish this is to incorporate tools and strategies that will create higher performing, more efficient buildings, which will be healthier for the planet and for the people who occupy the spaces inside. We believe this will have a substantial impact.

Refrigeration

Refrigeration

Refrigeration is a hot topic. Common refrigerants that are used in building mechanical systems are 10,000 times hotter than CO2. A ban on these common refrigerants will start to go into effect in five years, so we are raising awareness of next-generation refrigerants that are more environmentally friendly and compatible with future mechanical systems.

Solar

Solar

Keeping it clean. By utilizing cleaner energy sources and renewable technology – specifically solar photovoltaic panel technology – we can eliminate greenhouse gas emissions.

Insulation

Insulation

Wrap solutions around a building's envelope – the roof, walls and floor. We want to look at the thermal values that make up the building's skin so we are providing an efficient, thermally comfortable space for the occupants inside.

Water

Water

Water savings contribute more than a drop in the bucket. Many cities in America are currently running out of precious fresh-water resources. If our buildings demand less water by using low flow/flush fixtures and reclaimed water strategies, we can reduce our water demand as well as the amount of water that requires treatment, which will also reduce our community energy demand and result in less air pollution.

Improving the health of our buildings offers many benefits. High performing buildings save money, reduce CO2 emissions and have been proven to increase productivity of their occupants. This makes every project a call to action and an opportunity to leave a legacy that lasts longer than a lifetime.

About the Author

SusanHeinking

Susan Heinking, AIA, NCARB, LEED FellowVice President, High Performance and Sustainable Construction

A licensed architect and LEED Fellow, Susan has over a  decade of experience designing and managing sustainability programs and initiatives in the building industry. She leads Pepper's High Performance and Sustainable Construction Group. She is a national expert in sustainable building design and construction. Her many areas of involvement include Chicago's Energy Benchmarking Ordinance, the AIA2030 Chicago Working Group, co-chairing Chicago's AIA COTE knowledge group, participating in RETROFIT Chicago and working with the Chicago Biomimicry Group. Susan has been named to both ENR and BD+C's 20 under 40 list.

Susan's current vision for Pepper includes expanding the company's sustainability efforts to fully embrace the high performance aspects of both building performance and human performance. This includes enhancing existing efforts with energy modeling, ROI analysis and local utility incentives, as well as building on Pepper's "Nothing Hits the Floor" program and promoting the use of healthy materials.

Susan holds a Master of Architecture from the University of Oregon and is an active presenter at industry conventions.

Read more about Susan's accomplishments.