It seems pretty obvious that cities -- and the built environment in particular -are major points of leverage in the battle to mitigate climate change.
Here in my home state of Massachusetts an innovative program called The Cambridge Energy Alliance aims to reduce the city of Cambridge’s carbon footprint by 10% in five years through an innovative program that provides energy auditing, renovation, and financing – all in a relatively simple “one-stop-shop” process. Loans for proposed renovations made through the program are designed to pay for themselves through savings from lowered energy costs. City officials aim to enlist 50% of the city’s building stock into the program within the next five to six years.
On a grander scale, Architecture 2030 has set a national standard for reducing the built environment's contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.
If the U.S. were to meet the targets set by Architecture 2030 as outlined below and the U.S. Department of Energy's “20 Percent Wind Energy by 2030” target, we would definitely be making some serious progress towards sustainability. (GW)
Global Warming, Climate Change, and the Built Environment
Rapidly accelerating climate change (global warming), which is caused by greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, is now fueling dangerous regional and global environmental events. Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration illustrates that buildings are responsible for almost half (48%) of all GHG emissions annually. Seventy-six percent of all electricity generated by US power plants goes to supply the Building Sector. Therefore, immediate action in the Building Sector is essential if we are to avoid hazardous climate change.
Architecture 2030 Mission
Architecture 2030, a non-profit, non-partisan and independent organization, was established in response to the global-warming crisis by architect Edward Mazria in 2002. 2030’s mission is to rapidly transform the US and global Building Sector from the major contributor of greenhouse gas emissions to a central part of the solution to the global-warming crisis. Our goal is straightforward: to achieve a dramatic reduction in the global-warming-causing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of the Building Sector by changing the way buildings and developments are planned, designed and constructed.
We are achieving our mission by galvanizing both the building industry and the nation to adopt and implement the 2030 Challenge, a global initiative stating that all new buildings and major renovations reduce their fossil-fuel GHG-emitting consumption by 50% by 2010, incrementally increasing the reduction for new buildings to carbon neutral by 2030.
We issued the 2030 Challenge in January 2006, and since that time, numerous groups have signed on and are now working to implement its targets, including the US Conference of Mayors (Resolution #50), American Institute of Architects (AIA), US Green Building Council (USGBC), Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA/Target Finder), Royal Architecture Institute of Canada (RAIC), International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), Union Internationale des Architectes (UIA), and many, many others.
Credible scientists give us 10 years to be well on our way toward global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions in order to avoid catastrophic climate change. Yet there are hundreds of coal-fired power plants currently on the drawing boards in the US. Seventy-six percent (76%) of the energy produced by these plants will go to operate buildings.
Buildings are the major source of demand for energy and materials that produce by-product greenhouse gases (GHG). Slowing the growth rate of GHG emissions and then reversing it over the next ten years is the key to keeping global warming under one degree centigrade (°C) above today's level. It will require immediate action and a concerted global effort.
To accomplish this, Architecture 2030 has issued The 2030 Challenge asking the global architecture and building community to adopt the following targets:
- All new buildings, developments and major renovations shall be designed to meet a fossil fuel, GHG-emitting, energy consumption performance standard of 50% of the regional (or country) average for that building type.
- At a minimum, an equal amount of existing building area shall be renovated annually to meet a fossil fuel, GHG-emitting, energy consumption performance standard of 50% of the regional (or country) average for that building type.
- The fossil fuel reduction standard for all new buildings shall be increased to:
- 60% in 2010
70% in 2015
80% in 2020
90% in 2025
- Carbon-neutral in 2030 (using no fossil fuel GHG emitting energy to operate).
These targets may be accomplished by implementing innovative sustainable design strategies, generating on-site renewable power and/or purchasing (20% maximum) renewable energy and/or certified renewable energy credits.