GreenBlocks: A New Green Building Rating System Created on the Blockchain
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CitationBacorn, Kristen. 2020. GreenBlocks: A New Green Building Rating System Created on the Blockchain. Master's thesis, Harvard Extension School.
AbstractThis thesis explored the possibility of developing a new alternative to conventional, centralized green building rating systems like LEED, Energy Star and Green Globes. It further explored the possibility of originating and maintaining the rating system’s data on the blockchain via Ethereum. Although real estate has been sold or rented with cryptocurrency, the underlying technology has not yet been applied to evaluating and recording green building construction attributes. This thesis tested the extent to which a new rating system can offer advantages over conventional green building ratings systems. Assessments also gauged the extent to which the Ethereum blockchain can successfully provide operational advantages such as peer verification, decentralization, transparency, and decreased costs. The hypothesis was: It is feasible to create an effective green building rating system with a new and different approach, and that system can be successfully processed, maintained and delivered on the Ethereum platform. The research method used was to design a pilot green building rating system (GreenBlocks), and then beta-test and adapt it for implementation on the Ethereum platform, using a large commercial project as a test model. The site used for this live research is 38.5-acres in Las Vegas prepared for a mixed-use, new green development to be constructed. Criteria for the rating system, along with documented facts about the project, were submitted to Ethereum experts to test the technological feasibility of loading and maintaining a large amount of specialized detail using the blockchain and smart contracts. The goal of this thesis project was twofold: to develop an improved and highly granular method for evaluating green buildings, and to maintain the application system on the Ethereum platform, using blockchain technology. Success in loading and maintaining data for the test building on the Ethereum platform may permit exploration of the comparative merits of the blockchain approach, and the extent to which this approach may apply to other projects in future. Results of the investigation were that the GreenBlocks system was technologically feasible. However, loading and maintaining the data on a peer network was very labor-intensive. Unlike traditional systems like LEED, where building owners assume the labor costs of uploading data to the central online application, in GreenBlocks, data is submitted by building owners (and their team) to blockchain experts. This raised practical, non-technological questions about how labor costs are to be handled in a business sense. This thesis tested whether it was possible to create a completely new green building rating system that does not borrow from existing systems like BREEAM, LEED, Well, Green Globes, et al. Further, it tested whether the system could be created as a blockchain app and if live data from an actual building project could be successfully stored on the blockchain peer to peer network. With a positive outcome to the hypothesis, the next step is to determine what next steps might be taken in future research. The logical next step, in future projects, is to determine if the program can be made financially feasible and if the system can find any significant market acceptance. Needless to say, the system also requires refinement both in design and technology, to such an extent that if such a project were to be created for release to the public, it might bear little or no resemblance to the GreenBlocks pilot. In addition, the intensive skilled labor necessary to create a product beyond the GreenBlocks pilot may prove to be financially unsustainable. It will be interesting to see if GreenBlocks has any kind of viable future as a construction industry product.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37365406