Welcome to Deep Green

Deep Green is a show about how the built environment impacts climate change and equity. Buildings are some of the biggest things we make as human beings. In these bi-weekly episodes, we explore how through understanding buildings, cities, and all the things that go into them, we can do better for the environment and all life on this planet.

Season 2 | Episode 5

Water as a Battery

In 2020, a FIFTH of all the energy generated in the United States came from renewable sources. That means wind, hydroelectric, solar, biomass, and geothermal energy are slowly but surely winning. Combined, they surpassed nuclear and coal-based energy for the first time in history. As we move toward cleaner sources, we have to get even more efficient in how we handle and use energy. And that means: batteries.

The eternal problem in electricity generation is when you generate too much energy, how do you store it so you can use it when your capacity to generate energy dips? Architects and engineers today have hit on a novel solution for storing energy—water.

While the idea of using water to store electricity is almost a century old, the two projects in today’s episode use water as a battery—but for heat. First, Metropolis executive editor Sam Lubell speaks to the visionary architect Carlo Ratti, who along with his architecture firm won a Metropolis Responsible Disruptors Award for Hot Heart, a proposal to heat the city of Helsinki using a set of floating basins in the Gulf of Finland.

Then, in part two, senior editor Kelly Beamon talks to Don Pawson, a director of engineering at SmithGroup, who designed the very first sewage waste energy exchange system in a commercial building in the U.S. Brilliant stuff.

Season 2 | Episode 4

Regenerative Interior Design

Interior designer Laurence Carr is a trailblazer and an advocate in this area. Carr believes in design that is restorative and regenerative. Which means she doesn’t want to just stop at doing less harm to the environment, she believes that design can actually help restore balance between humans and their ecology, and can allow natural systems to regenerate.

In this episode, Metropolis’s senior editor Kelly Beamon sits down with Carr to discuss the myriad alternatives available to interior designers today, what challenges persist, and how we can all be a bit more responsible with the stuff in homes, offices, hotels, and other spaces.

Season 2 | Episode 3

Making Offices Carbon Neutral

When we think about the carbon emissions of buildings so far we’ve focused largely on two things: the emissions involved in operating the buildings and those involved in the building materials and construction. But there’s a third piece that we’ve largely overlooked, which is all the stuff inside the buildings: furniture, carpet, the lights, the seats. All that stuff puts greenhouse gases in the air when it’s made, when it’s transported, installed, and eventually discarded.

Now consider a company like Salesforce, which designs and develops enterprise software and operates 59 offices around the world. Every time one of those offices is renovated, it means carbon emissions, which is a problem for a company that’s committed to sustainable practices. But through some consistent efforts, Salesforce has been chipping away at the carbon emissions of its workplaces.

In this episode, brought to you in partnership with Interface, we discuss those efforts with Amanda von Almen, senior manager of sustainability and head of sustainable business environments at Salesforce, and Lisa Conway, vice president of sustainability, Americas, at Interface, who supplies all of the flooring solutions at Salesforce—and explore why workplaces are really an important factor in the fight against climate change.

Season 2 | Episode 2

Can Buildings Be Like Trees?

In 2002, the architect William McDonough and the chemist Michael Braungart came up with a rather revolutionary idea. The duo had recently published their groundbreaking book, “Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things,” and would go on to become leaders in the sustainability movement, In fact, they anticipated many aspects of what we today call the circular economy. But back in 2002, the architect and the chemist wrote an essay titled Buildings Like Trees, Cities Like Forests for a book called “The Catalog of the Future.”

Today, 20 years later, we return to that idea: Can buildings be like trees? This episode includes two segments. First, Metropolis editor in chief Avinash Rajagopal reads the introduction to Braungart and McDonough’s essay. Then, we dive into Urban Sequoia, a proposal by the architecture firm SOM that takes giant redwood trees as the inspiration for carbon-capturing skyscrapers and cities.

Season 2 | Episode 1

The Carbon Footprint of the Metaverse

Even if you don’t care about technology, it’s likely you’ve heard something about the metaverse. It’s a sort of 3-dimensional, immersive internet that would take lots of technologies that exist already today, like video games, VR, and NFTs, and find a way to connect all of them.

While our team was reporting on this new phenomenon for our January/February 2022 issue, we began to wonder about the carbon footprint of the metaverse. There is no metaverse without the cloud, which actually lives in buildings—steel and concrete buildings called data centers. If more people get in the metaverse, more stuff gets on the cloud, more data centers—you get the picture. There’s got to be a way to start addressing this before the problem gets out of hand.

Can we build an online world that doesn’t destroy the real one? In this episode, reporter Audrey Grey speaks to Drs. Julie Kriegh and Dr. Hyun Woo “Chris” Lee, UW College of Built Environments colleagues, who were part of a team imagining a completely different future for data centers.