Photo courtesy of 2030, Inc.
Santa Fe, NM
Architect and educator Ed Mazria has questioned the long-term environmental effects of the building sector throughout his prominent career. In 2002, he began extensive research on this issue—only to discover the sector was the largest energy consumer and greenhouse gas emitter in the world. Over the next several years, Mazria wrote articles, presented research, and showcased his work about the relationships among energy, climate change, and the built environment. “Once the sector understood the issue and was ready to act, the question became: What do we do next?” Mazria said.
In response, Mazria established Architecture 2030. Founded in 2006, the nonprofit, nonpartisan organization has a straight forward two-part mission:
- To achieve a dramatic reduction in fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by changing the way cities, communities, and buildings are renovated, planned, designed, and built.
- To reach the regional development of adaptive, resilient, livable built environments that can manage climate change impacts, preserve natural resources, and access low-cost, renewable water and energy resources.
“We understand that the built environment is the problem,” Mazria said. “We also understand it holds the key to the solution.”
According to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates, buildings currently are responsible for 48 percent of all annual GHG emissions. In addition, 76 percent of all electricity generated by U.S. power plants supplies the building sector.
Mazria calls on his colleagues in architecture to meet the 2030 Challenge: to make all new buildings and major renovations carbon-neutral by the year 2030.
One program designed to help accomplish this is the Zero Net Energy (ZNE Plan—a state homebuyer’s tax credit for purchasing high-performance housing. The credit is tied to jobs, state revenue, and efficiency-construction for both new and existing homes.
Through another program,2030 Districts, large, existing urban areas in Seattle, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh are committed to reducing their energy, water consumption, and GHG emissions. This growing program currently has new districts forming in Los Angeles and Bellevue, Washington.
And the AIA+2030 Professional Education Series, a course in the design and technology applications needed to produce next-generation energy-efficient buildings, is now offered in 23 markets across the U.S. and Canada.
“A transformation in the built environment is definitely underway,” Mazria said.
With 900 billion square feet of building area now constructed—to accommodate an additional 1.6 billion people living in cities by 2030—the new question is: Can we transform fast enough?
Architecture 2030’s response is the development of 2030 Palette, an innovative online resource which provides professionals with a comprehensive set of guiding principles, planning and design strategies, and tools for transforming the global built environment.
“The 2030 Palette is a living platform, a new visual language,” said Mazria, adding that his organization has already identified more than 85 core design principles. These principles provide practical support for meeting the 2030 Challenge targets.
Today, all top 10 architecture/engineering firms in the world have adopted the 2030 Challenge. “The leadership in the industry is behind it,” Mazria said. “That’s why we believe we can turn the ship.”
Looking ahead, Architecture 2030 will continue to expand its activities and build momentum.
“We are providing the basis for a global paradigm shift for restructuring the built environment—one that is resilient, restores natural habitats,exists within its ecological capital, and is accessible to all,” Mazria said. “I believe this can and will be accomplished.”
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