Buildings are stealthy contributors to global climate change. The energy needed to heat, cool, and light buildings, as well as manufacture construction materials, contributes more than half of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. But Kevin Surace, chair and CEO of Serious Materials, has made it his mission to tackle the built environment head-on. An electrical engineer by training, he has worked at IBM, Seiko-Epson, National Semiconductor, and General Magic. He later started the companies Air Communications and Perfect Commerce. In 2002, he began to develop sound-muffling polymers as a sideline, shifting his focus to materials chemistry. Sound-dampening materials now account for much of Serious Materials' business, but the company has received most of its accolades for its energy-efficient products. We caught up with Surace at Serious Materials' headquarters in Sunnyvale, Calif., to talk about how materials science can help make green buildings good business.