A Meeting of Minds

Leaders in zero energy design discuss innovation and hope in the face of global warming.

PAE Associate, David Mead sat down with Brad Liljequist, Zero Energy Director at the International Living Future Institute to discuss David’s role as a Net Zero Fellow, as well as his insights from participating in the development of Project Drawdown.

David offered his, and PAE’s services, after he heard about Drawdown’s mission to shift the focus of the sustainability movement from problems to solutions. PAE’s mission is to help solve the planet’s energy and water challenges, and we were thrilled to be part of a project that looked at global solutions so holistically.

The solutions in Drawdown range from wide-spread adoption of renewables to education of women and girls to conversion to plant-based diets. As an MEP engineering firm that is a world leader in sustainable design, Drawdown’s plan includes two significant ways PAE can help drive change – refrigerant management and market proliferation of Net Zero and Net Positive buildings.

As discussed in the interview by Brad and David, refrigerant management, including the destruction and phasing out HFCs, is Drawdown’s number one solution. David adds “in some cases, [refrigerants] can completely offset whatever emissions savings you’ll have from energy efficiency.” One of the solutions offered by David includes a “super passive, envelope driven approach.”

One of the challenges “super passive” and Net Zero projects face, as David puts it, is that “a lot of society doesn’t know it’s possible.” With several successfully completed Net Zero and passive projects in challenging climates like the Bullitt Center in cloudy Seattle, Washington and the Rocky Mountain Institute Innovation Center in cold Basalt, Colorado PAE has started to crack some previously believed climate barriers. We hope these projects can serve as inspiration for the adoption of both new and retrofitted Net Zero buildings throughout the globe.

After his work on Project Drawdown, David’s conclusion?
“I’m still hopeful, and I think that’s the key takeaway of Drawdown. Stay focused on the solutions—let’s get this done!”