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Greenbuild Blog

Engaging Building Professionals in the Decarbonization Revolution

January 23, 2024

By Nick Vener

As we enter a new year, we expand our knowledge and experience with decarbonization. Looking back at Greenbuild last year, many session topics detailed the best strategies for engaging professionals in lowering the carbon footprint of our buildings. And this year, we concluded January with our decarbonization webinar, providing a strong foundation for moving us forward.

One of the most potent strategies for fighting climate change and lowering the carbon footprint of our buildings and communities is to engage today’s building professionals in decarbonization tactics and understanding the nuances of incorporating them into existing building practices.

The past years have provided a strong foundation of resources and educational opportunities for us to achieve substantial change. Educational opportunities, including the Solar Decathlon and Building Science Education Series, allow us to share the knowledge and gain the hands-on experience that today’s building experts need to push the green building movement forward.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon aims to educate students and the public about the latest technologies and materials in zero energy design and technologies, smart home solutions, and high-performance buildings. The Solar Decathlon program partnered with USGBC to develop the Solar Decathlon Professionals Program or SD Pro.

The program targets early to mid-career design professionals in residential and commercial building design, allowing architects, engineers, and more to enhance their building science expertise while gaining practical experience in designing and championing zero energy and zero carbon projects.

As we all know, USGBC’s mission is to transform the way buildings and communities are designed, built, and operated, enabling an environmentally and socially responsible, healthy, and prosperous environment that improves the quality of life. Therefore, together, the two have an extraordinary opportunity to transform the building industry.

The Solar Decathlon Building Science Education Series is another cohort-based learning program that emphasizes the practical application of zero-energy design theory and shares how to implement zero-energy design in existing practices.

Series Introduction

The first part of the program looks at the Building Science Education Series, which covers the following:

  • Where/how energy is used in buildings
  • How to define zero energy buildings
  • How to apply the fundamentals of thermodynamics to building envelope design
  • How to explain the science of how/why buildings use energy
  • How to apply this knowledge to design comfortable energy efficient buildings.

The series carefully layers short modular videos focused on building a solid foundational knowledge of building science, starting with broad fundamentals with 10 weeks of live sessions, online videos, quizzes, and personal project exploration. For company-wide initiatives, faculty can also learn how to incorporate teaching the net zero building sciences in their curriculum.

Discussion, collaboration, and relationship building offer authentic learning with a community of architecture and design professionals participating in the program, offering guidance with resources including Zero Tool (to calculate reduction baselines), ASHRAE (design guidance), S.D. Pro Spreadsheet (for simplified modeling) and more. The application of material leads to the ability to articulate and implement the “how” of zero energy design in architectural practice.

The best way to strengthen the green building movement requires access to the tools, experience, and insights required to bring change to our buildings and communities. Decarbonization will play a critical role in building strategies as we enter 2024. With the educational opportunities provided by The Solar Decathlon program and The Building Science Education Series, we can engage all building professionals in the crucial concepts to fuel the decarbonization revolution.

The Solar Decathlon program supports current and future generations of new green building professionals to support decarbonization efforts through net zero buildings. To learn more about the Solar Decathlon and sign up, visit for more information.

About the Author

Nick Vener is a Marketing Manager for the Greenbuild International Conference + Expo and a LEED Green Associate. He focuses on digital and content marketing for Greenbuild, concentrating on sustainability and the green building space.