This program is hosted & funded by the SDG&E Energy Innovation Center.

Search: Decarbonizing the Built Environment: Rethinking Zero Net Energy

Course Description: 

We all know that carbon is the key to life…but within our built environment that same carbon is threatening that same life. This presentation will first discuss the concept of decarbonization within the building sector. What are the roles and impacts of both embodied and operational carbon? Is carbon the only concern? We will then shift the discussion to the process of applying decarbonization to our designs. How is our typical performance-based approach altered when we use GHG emissions as our primary metric? How does this new metric alter the construction practices and operational routines? Finally, we will discuss how decarbonization aligns with well-known performance standards such as Zero Net Energy & Living Building Challenge. Throughout the presentation, we will share our successes, challenges, and lessons learned from the perspective of the owner, builder, and designer, while targeting the next generation of sustainability goals.

This event is approved for the following continuing education:

- 4 General LFA CE Credits (contact the SD Living Future Collaborative, [email protected], for more information)

- General GBCI & AIA Continuing Education Units

Seminar Highlights:

1. What is decarbonization?

2. Why is decarbonization important?

3. What is the relative value of embodied carbon vs. operational carbon?

4. How does Electrification relate to decarbonization?

5. What different design decisions might be incorporated if the goal is Zero Carbon rather than Zero Net Energy?

6. How can you reduce embodied carbon? 



Syska Hennessy Group

Xun has wide range of sustainability consulting experience in aviation, healthcare, higher education corporate and interiors, government, convention center, etc.  As a building sustainability practitioner with strong passion in building decarbonization, she provides performance-driven integrative design focused on minimizing impact and optimizing building systems for the built environment. She enjoys collaboratively working with clients to achieve sustainability metrics and certification including LEED, Net Zero Energy, Water Conservation and Carbon Neutrality. She also helps existing building owners improve building energy efficiency and receive incentives from states and local utilities.  As a GBCI certified WELL Performance Testing Agent, she helps clients achieve their health and wellness goals. She currently serves as one of the Board of Directors of SDGBC to help promote building decarbonization practice locally.

Dennis Daley

Level 10 Construction

Dennis graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Construction Management from Colorado State University. As a project manager, he has been with Level 10 Construction since the opening of their San Diego office in 2013. Throughout his 17-year career in California, Dennis has worked on projects ranging from $50,000 tenant improvements to $90M campus additions including multiple LEED and design build projects. As project manager Dennis’ main duties include contract administration, constructability, team supervision and coordination, and monitoring budget and schedule to ensure client’s needs are met on time and on budget.

Justin Di Palo, P.E., LEED AP BD+C, WELL AP, LBC Ambassador, EcoDistricts AP

Syska Hennessy Group

Justin Di Palo is a licensed Professional Mechanical Engineer and Energy Analyst who aspires to make continual positive impact in the field of sustainable engineering through consulting services, project management, business development, and education. Justin has a proven ability to deliver high quality analysis via holistic building energy modeling to guide architectural and engineering design and optimize building performance. Justin’s passion for sustainability has led him to become an active member and leader in advocacy groups such as the International Living Future Institute (ILFI) and the USGBC. His diverse portfolio of projects spans many market sectors, including commercial, higher education, healthcare, life science, institutional, R&D, manufacturing, transportation, multi-family residential, and hospitality industries.

Dennis Astl, AIA, CCM, LEED AP

Palomar College

Mr. Astl has over 28 years of experience as an Owner, Design Manager, Project Manager and Project Superintendent for all aspects of both large and small scale construction projects delivered using all project delivery types across the United States as well as Japan.  Mr. Astl joined Palomar College in 2015 as the Manager of Construction and Facilities Planning and is responsible for oversight of the District’s $694M Prop M bond program that is updating the District’s 60-year old facilities and expanding into 2 new campuses located in Fallbrook and Rancho Bernardo, California. Mr. Astl’s responsibilities include determining the appropriate delivery method for each project and the oversite of the RFQ/RFP process as well as supervision of the design, construction and managing the end user’s expectations for all capital improvement projects.  In addition, Mr. Astl is responsible for updating the District’s Facilities Master Plan which is a 20 year forecast of the District’s facility’s needs.  Furthermore, Mr. Astl is championing multiple sustainability measures/programs at the District.

Danielle Buttacavoli, AIA AICP


Danielle is Director of BNIM’s Pacific Studio office in San Diego. She is a registered architect and certified urban planner with extensive experience working collaboratively to bring high-performance communities and facilities to life. Danielle’s positive and results-focused leadership is demonstrated in her work on projects including Makers Quarter Block D and the LEED Gold Pacific Center Campus Development. Danielle has recently worked closely with Cal Poly SLO and CSU San Marcos to support growth opportunities on campus that achieve sustainability initiatives and in cohesion with existing campus design guidelines and standards.

Jeremy Knoll


Jeremy is an Associate Principal at BNIM with a deep passion for green building and social equity. At BNIM, Jeremy has focused on elevating the level of sustainable design performance across the firm’s portfolio. In addition to managing BNIM’s 2030 Challenge monitoring and reporting, he has contributed to a long list of projects as a sustainability leader, more recently including the Washington University East Campus Master Plan and Parking Facility, Seaton Hall Renovation at Kansas State University, the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton, and the School of Music at the University of Missouri.


Check-in time: 8:00am and continental breakfast will be provided. Content begins promptly at 8:30am.


March 18, 2020 at 8:30am - 12:30pm


Energy Innovation Center
4760 Clairemont Mesa Blvd
San Diego, CA 92117
United States
Google map and directions

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