How the Biden Administration’s Plans for the Climate Crisis Could Shape the Future of Employment and Development

Every time there is a transition in power, we are presented with new challenges and opportunities when it comes to addressing the climate crisis. The Biden-Harris Administration recently released their commitments on climate change and their plan is designed to create new jobs, build and rebuild infrastructure and deliver on environmental justice promises. What can you expect?

The Biden-Harris Administration Climate Commitments

As part of the executive actions that President Biden took there were numerous climate change-aimed orders. The actions as a result of the Executive Order included:

  • Rejoining the Paris Agreement
  • Hosting a Leaders’ Climate Summit on Earth Day
  • Focus on the security implications of climate change
  • Establishing the first-ever National Climate Advisor and Deputy National Climate Advisor
  • Establishing a National Climate Task Force
  • Create clean energy jobs
  • Developing plans to increase the resilience of national security facilities to the impacts of climate change
  • Eliminating fossil fuel subsidies
  • Creating jobs in construction, manufacturing, engineering and the skilled trades while ensuring that federal infrastructure work is aimed at reducing climate pollution and accelerating clean energy and transmission projects
  • Prioritizing environmental justice

How Will This Change Things?

The push by the Biden administration to create new jobs in construction and manufacturing with a green building focus is great news for our industry. USGBC has praised his plans to use green buildings as a centerpiece of creating jobs for America’s recovery and moving us forward in climate policy. The current intended building targets are:

  • Reducing the carbon footprint of US building stock 50% by 2035
  • Upgrading 4 million buildings and weatherizing 2 million homes over the course of his term, which he estimates will create 1 million jobs
  • Kickstarting the construction of 1.5 million sustainable housing units and homes

It’s clear that President Biden sees buildings as a key piece of combating climate change, and the groundwork already in place thanks to the USGBC community will be instrumental in ensuring this momentum does not go to waste. Doo Consulting is excited to be part of this sweeping change in the construction industry and use our past experience in LEED projects to continue our work. The historic investment in energy upgrades of many buildings, including housing, offices, warehouses, federal buildings and public buildings, bodes well for our industry and the future of the planet. If you looking to create a building for your business with LEED certification or if you are looking to upgrade or certify an existing building, Doo Consulting is here to help.  

Trusting Science to Address Climate Change

What Truths Can We Trust?

In this period of distrusting data while simultaneously facing challenges whose solutions depend on reliable data, we have a responsibility to critically consider all of the data and its sources.  The challenges we face include Covid, the economy, political divisions, social justice, and climate change. While distrust of information sources is problematic for each of these challenges, debate over the facts surrounding climate change and climate science have been simmering for decades. As the new administration in Washington turns its attention toward climate issues once again, one can be certain that these debates will re-emerge along with fake news intended to confuse the public and the policy makers. It is important that we face the climate challenge with reliable information, as the timeline is short, and the decisions we make affect the future of our communities, our economy, and our environment.

The Reality of Climate Change

Many articles have claimed that “97% of scientists agree” that climate-warming trends over the past century are due to human activities. According to a 2016 article written by a Mr. Earl Ritchie in Houston, Texas, the often cited 97% consensus among scientists is debatable. Mr. Ritchie is a retired energy executive. I liked this article because it seemed unbiased to me. In his article, Ritchie is fact-checking, rather than arguing for one side over another. Several studies are cited, including the source of the 97% statistic. He cites equally numerous results, but concludes that the majority, somewhere above 80%, of scientists agree in anthropogenic climate change. Though this audience probably doesn’t need convincing that climate change is real or human-induced, I wanted to re-establish scientific consensus as a fact for anyone who might read this blog.

Once one accepts the scientific consensus that the current warming trend in our climate is the direct result of human activity, the climate disruptions we observe and experience today can be put into that context. Now we find ourselves in a situation where we must face the science of climate change or face the consequences.

Decarbonizing Our Future

Science tells us we need to decarbonize our future. In the US, our target is to halve 2017 emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. This means continuing to develop and deploy clean energy technologies, accelerating the energy efficiency of buildings, addressing agricultural emissions and deforestation.

A good summary of what needs to be done and why is presented in an article on “How to Decarbonize America and the World”. It’s a critique of the Green New Deal – but don’t let that put you off. This is a long, but good, article so make yourself comfortable before you click here. Each strategy requires an assessment of the facts and it will take more than one or two articles to be able to draw conclusions, but the overall goal of decarbonization seems well established in the scientific community. The Carbon Budget illustrated here results in a 2° C rise in global temperature. More aggressive reductions would be required to limit global warming to the Paris Climate target of 1.5° C.

In our 2020 Annual Blog, we addressed the building sector citing several actions architects and building owners should take to improve building performance. This is one of the priority actions to decarbonize our future. We continue to recommend:

  1. Performing energy models for all projects.
  2. Joining the AIA 2030 Commitment and reporting.
  3. Supporting responsible businesses.

ESG Assessments

We also encourage businesses of all types and sizes to participate in environmentally responsible practices by beginning or reviewing their Environment, Social, Governance (ESG) assessments. A Green Biz article states that “Businesses are coming to realize that integrating ESG concerns into core business and financial decisions will generate new streams of data that can be used to enhance growth and sustainability.” A few of our recommended steps for businesses undertaking an ESG assessment are:

  1. Define your vision.
  2. Identify the key performance indicators (KPI) for your industry.
  3. Prioritize, measure, and assess. No need to do everything at once.
  4. Develop a reporting framework.
  5. Set goals and align teams.
  6. Tap internal resources.
  7. Get started!

If your business is ready to take the next step to be more sustainable in 2021, Doo Consulting is here to help.