Finegold Alexander’s Rebecca Berry Speaks at 2023 Historic New England Summit

During the Panel discussion, Rebecca shares insights on the importance of embodied carbon to combat climate change.

photo courtesy of Historic New England
February 2, 2024
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Rebecca Berry President and Principal at Finegold Alexander recently spoke during the "Embodied Carbon: The Sustainability Imperative of Preserving Places” session at the 2023 Historic New England Summit. The panel was moderated by Phillip Kennicott, Pulitzer Prize Winner and Senior Art and Architecture Critic for the Washington Post. The panel, which also included Dan Bergsagel, Sustainability Lead and Engineer at Schlaich Bergermann Partners, and Jonathan Rosenbloom, Professor of Law at Albany Law School and Executive Director of the Sustainable Development Code, delved into changing the perception of existing buildings being expendable assets, to instead being viewed as vital instruments in combatting climate change.

Historic New England Summit Panel - photo courtesy of Historic New England

Key Panel Focus: The central question posed by the panel was to challenge conventional views of construction and called for a paradigm shift. How can we change the prevailing ideas of building as disposable commodities and reframe them as crucial tools in the fight against climate change and social inequity?

Panel Highlights

  • Multi-Disciplinary Approach: A key takeaway from the conversation emphasized the need for holistic, multi-disciplinary approaches. The panel highlighted the significance of comprehending the diverse options available to clients for reducing embodied carbon. This involves fostering open communication among key decision-makers and the project team to align on goals and determine the most effective means of achieving them. Such an integrated strategy stands as a fundamental requirement for attaining net-zero and zero-waste sustainability objectives.
  • Moving Towards Net Zero and Zero-Waste: Achieving net-zero and zero-waste sustainability goals requires a holistic approach that considers the entire life cycle of a building. The panel stressed the need for mindful construction, efficient resource use, and responsible building end-of-life considerations.
  • Broader Views of Sustainability: When we extend the life of our existing buildings, we not only reduce emissions, we also honor our cultural heritage. The built environment is a product of the labor and intellectual capital of previous generations. By creatively reusing our existing structures, we are engaging in an act of cultural, as well as ecological, sustainability.
  • Implications for the Future: The insights shared during the panel discussion signal an urgency within the industry. By reframing buildings as crucial tools in the fight against climate change and social inequity, members of the AEC industry are called to adopt innovative, sustainable practices and to work with community members and policy makers to create a decarbonized future – together.

To watch the entire panel discussion, click here!