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Building Solutions to Climate Change: Celebrate Earth Day from Home with the R.W. Kern Center and NESEA

The R.W. Kern Center at Hampshire College and the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA) are hosting a free interactive webinar from 5–6:30 p.m. on April 22, 2020, in honor of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.

The virtual event, Carbon Drawdown Now! Building to Combat the Climate Crisis, is about embodied carbon in buildings and the role buildings play in climate change. The webinar will cover the major carbon emissions associated with buildings, how we can use systems thinking and creative material solutions to lower these emissions (or even take them negative!), and how carbon-smart building can advance climate justice.

The event features Ace McArleton and Jacob Deva Racusin of Vermont-based New Frameworks Design & Build, a worker-owned natural building cooperative. Ace and Jacob presented on this topic with Chris Magwood at NESEA’s BuildingEnergy Boston 2019, in what has been called “the most inspirational keynote address” in the history of the conference.

Buildings account for a whopping 39% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Environmental advocates and green builders have long focused on operational energy efficiency and reduced fossil-fuel consumption as the most important strategies for sustainable building. But nearly a third of these emissions are from the energy used during construction and in producing building materials—embodied emissions. As our new buildings become more energy efficient, the embodied carbon emissions associated with construction become an even bigger proportion of a building’s total lifetime emissions. The world is building the equivalent of a whole New York City every day. If we don’t start reducing embodied carbon emissions now, we’ll build ourselves out of any possibility of meeting the global carbon reduction goals needed to halt climate change. 

But we have the power to build differently. Not all building materials are carbon emissions nightmares. Some materials are actually carbon storing, meaning they pull carbon from the atmosphere and lock it away in their physical structure. Carbon Drawdown Now! shares the theory and technology behind carbon storing building materials, the innovative materials available now, and the global potential for carbon storage in the built environment. These low-carbon strategies can advance climate justice through building and open up partnerships with allied industries in agriculture and forestry to find solutions to social, ecological, and economic problems.

The R.W. Kern Center and NESEA have partnered to share this important content with people across the Pioneer Valley and beyond. This webinar is for anyone interested in how buildings can become part of positive climate action. Jacob and Ace are experts at making complex content accessible to everyone, and we hope to see folks of all kinds participating from home: high school and college students, parents and their children, climate activists (and their roommates!). This topic may be of particular professional interest to designers, builders, policymakers, and others who have great power to help make better buildings for the climate. Everyone will log off with a concrete action they can take to reduce embodied carbon emissions in their buildings and lives.

Leading up to the event, we’ll also be featuring local products and organizations that help support lower-carbon living and building. Follow along on our social media to get connected to these great resources.

Learn more and register for the webinar.


The R.W. Kern Center is a certified Living Building at Hampshire College dedicated to helping create sustainable places for people and the environment.

Instagram: @rwkerncenter | Facebook: @rwkerncenter | Twitter: @Kern_Center

The Northeast Sustainable Energy Association is a non-profit with a mission to advance the adoption of sustainable energy practices in the built environment by cultivating a community where practitioners share, collaborate and learn.

Instagram: @neseaorg | Facebook: | Twitter: @NESEA_org

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R.W. Kern Center
Hampshire College
893 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002