The 2030 Challenge has been issued! Climate change is no longer speculation; it’s a fact. A big part of the problem is carbon emissions. Atmospheric C02 is a heat-trapping greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. Carbon dioxide is a byproduct of energy production. The urban built environment is a huge energy hog. Buildings use about 48% of all the energy produced in the U.S – nearly double the consumption of both the industrial and transportation sectors, respectively. Accordingly, buildings are responsible for almost half of all CO2 emissions. As the greatest culprit, the building sector also represents the area in which the greatest improvements can be made.
As architects our influence on such matters can be significant. In 2006 architect Edward Mazria founded “Architecture 2030,” a non-profit research organization that issued the “2030 Challenge.” The objective of the challenge is to “reduce global fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by changing the way we plan, design, and construct the built world.” The challenge calls for an immediate energy consumption reduction of 70% below current averages for all new buildings, developments, and renovations. By 2020, the goal is an 80% reduction overall. By 2025, a 90% reduction is the aim. Ultimately, by 2030, the objective is for all new buildings, developments and renovations to be 100% carbon neutral, where no greenhouse gas-emitting fossil fuels will be used in their operation.
To achieve this tall order, as architects, we’ll have to employ a few different solutions. Initial design strategies have the greatest potential to lower energy consumption. The passive strategies for a building’s orientation, envelope, ventilation, heating, cooling, lighting, etc. all conspire to drive down energy requirements. These passive strategies, combined with on-site renewable energy systems, like solar photovoltaic panels, solar hot water tubes, wind turbines, etc. can take care of the majority of a building’s energy needs. For any lingering requirements, Architecture 2030, as part of their “2030 Challenge” permits up to 20% of a building’s total energy requirement to be purchased from an off-site renewable energy source.
To fight global climate change we need to stop burning fossil fuels as quickly as possible. The 2030 Challenge provides us with a guide towards this end. At Ross Design Architects we’ve taken special interest in both the problem and the solution outlined by Mazria. Moving ahead, we’re looking forward to implementing sustainable strategies in our own projects!
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