Building Design Leaders Unite on Energy Reduction Targets

To reduce the building design industry’s impact on the environment, key leaders in that sector are collaborating to establish carbon-neutral buildings by the year 2030.

By Consulting Specifying Engineer Staff May 23, 2007

are collaborating to establish carbon-neutral buildings by the year 2030.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA), the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), Architecture 2030, the Illuminating Engineering Society of NorthAmerica (IESNA), and the U.S. Green Building Council, supported by representatives of the U.S.Department of Energy, finalized an agreement of understanding this week, establishing a common startingpoint and a goal of net zero energy buildings.

“This agreement allows the building design sector to move forward with designing buildings that usesubstantially less energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create spaces that are healthy andcomfortable,” according to the groups.

While focused on designing net zero energy buildings, the ultimate goal is carbon-neutral buildingsby 2030. In joining together, the groups recognize that “the building sector accounts for almost half of allgreenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. annually.”

To reach that goal, AIA, ASHRAE, Architecture 2030, IESNA and USGBC agreed to define thebaseline starting point for their common target goals as the national average energy consumption of existingU.S. commercial buildings as reported by the 2003 Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey(CBECS). CBECS data is a set of whole-building energy use measurements gathered by the DOE’s EnergyInformation Administration, which can be used to determine a national energy use intensity using kBTU/sq ft-yr. as the metric.

“ASHRAE is excited to work with the various organizations that have participated in developing thisagreement,” Terry Townsend, ASHRAE president, said. “Collectively, our programs, initiatives and goalsnow have an agreed-upon baseline to operate from in our common quest to achieve a sustainable future. Thechallenge is now upon each organization to make good on their commitments.”

“The task we face is daunting,” Edward Mazria, founder and executive director of Architecture2030, said. “Working separately, we could accomplish something significant in each of our respectivespheres. But by working together, we actually have a chance to influence the course of history- and wewill.”

“Establishing a baseline for reducing energy consumption is a critical step in the goal of curbing theemissions generated by the built environment,” said AIA president RK Stewart, FAIA.the design and construction industry can use this reference point to ensure that new or renovated buildingsare designed to operate in a smart, healthy and efficient manner.”

“This agreement is a significant demonstration of the importance of an ongoing alliance among thekey organizations responsible for building design,” Kevin Flynn, IESNA president, said. “Carefuldeliberations have resulted in agreed upon goals for addressing substantial reduction in energy use. IESNAlooks forward to pursuing these goals in collaboration with the partnering organizations.”

“By working together on this important initiative, we will make a difference in the builtenvironment,” said Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO & founding chair, USGBC. “Buildings are a big piece ofthe climate change puzzle but the good news is they are also partof the solution, and together we will makean impact.”