Architecture 2030 seeks to make buildings part of the solution, not the problem

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Buildings consume nearly half of all the energy produced in the United States and are responsible for half of its carbon emission. Ed Mazria launched Architecture 2030 in 2002 to transform the man-made surroundings where people live and work — “the built environment” — from a major contributor to the climate crisis to a central part of the solution.

In 2015, the solar-building design and energy efficiency guru issued the 2030 Challenge. He asked global architects and builders to make all new buildings, developments, and major renovations carbon-neutral by 2030.

So far, eight of the top 10 architecture, engineering and planning firms have taken up the challenge. So too have the American Institute of Architects, the federal government and the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

“The landscape for low-carbon buildings has been transformed,” Mazria said in a recent interview. “Designing with sustainability and high performance in mind has become the standard approach.”

Experts from participating firms have laid out seven tactics for meeting the Architecture 2030 Challenge. Among them: setting high targets, building good models, hiring people that give a damn and balancing upfront costs with long-term operating savings.

Most importantly, bake the low-carbon goals into all projects, not just marquee buildings. “We don’t want to just target the projects that have high sustainability goals,” says architect Jacob Dunn. “We are really interested in raising the entire bar for the middle of the distribution of projects.”

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Photo credit: Architecture 2030