A couple of months ago, I promised (threatened?) that I’d be starting a new column called Sexy Retrofits. Now I’m making good on that notion — but so much news has been swirling around on the topic lately that I’m forced to start with a round-up. Now with more bullet points!

  • Yesterday I had the chance to drop by the “Green Boot Camp” held at Harvard by Living Cities, a consortium of foundations and financial institutions looking to give U.S. metro areas a shot in the arm. At the conference, teams of officials from 16 cities spent three intense days comparing notes on retrofitting — what works, what doesn’t, how to create citywide models — and devising plans for going forward. (The harried PR woman I worked with referred to it as “amazing … it’s like a green therapy session.”) I spent some time talking with Stockton Williams, the organization’s director of Green Economies Initiatives. Given the pending infusion of federal cash and the urgency of both fighting climate change and creating jobs, Williams said, “the question is not whether to retrofit or how to retrofit, but how to scale up” so that retrofits are not just scattershot projects but part of a broad strategy.
  • And speaaaaking of scaling up: Zerofootprint launched the awesomely named Building Re-Skinning Competition to “advance the state-of-the-art in retrofitting [and create] retrofitting systems that can be scaled to a large number of buildings and deployed globally.” Judges for this save-the-world endeavor, which is open to entries all summer, include Will McDonough and Ed Mazria.
  • The Clinton Climate Initiative continues to make green building and retrofitting seem splashy and sexy (see: Empire State Building), this time by announcing the designation of 16 “Climate Positive” community developments around the world. Said Himself: “The Climate Positive Development Program will set a new global standard for developments that will minimize environmental impacts and benefit economies as we build and rebuild homes, schools, and businesses.” Emphasis added by me. Because it was the closest I could find to Clinton saying, “Damn, retrofits are sexy.”
  • Sears buildingA site for Sears eyes.merges via flickrUp in Toronto, government officials are embarking on one of the continent’s biggest-ever green retrofits, converting the former headquarters of Sears Canada into LEED Gold office space. “We are bringing to life our government’s commitment to greening Ontario’s buildings and along with it creating green jobs and fuelling a green economy,” said George Smitherman, deputy premier and minister of Energy and Infrastructure. Sounds familiar, eh?

In future installments, I promise fewer bullet points and more focus on projects on the ground, concrete steps that cities are taking, and interviews with innovators. Got a sexy retrofit or retrofitter you think we should feature? Leave a comment below.