Mixed results in design projects meeting carbon reduction targets

A recently report by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has assessed the work of firms that are part of the AIA 2030 Commitment, a voluntary initiative to commit their practice to advancing the AIA’s goal of carbon-neutral buildings by the year 2030 that began reporting performance data in 2010, according to a press release.

“We have made some progress in the overall program, with a noteworthy jump in the amount of buildings included in the report,” said Greg Mella, FAIA, director of sustainable design at SmithGroupJJR and co-chair of the AIA 2030 Working Group. “But we are simply not making significant strides in crucial metrics that predict building performance. These findings should serve as a wake-up call to architects that there needs to be greater urgency to drive improved energy efficiency across their project portfolios if we are going to reach our ultimate carbon reduction goals.”

Highlights from the AIA 2030 Commitment: 2015 Progress Report include:

  • 152 firms submitted reports – a 9 percent increase from 2014
  • 2.6 billion gross square feet (GSF) represented in this data – an 8 percent increase
  • 5,982 whole building projects have been accounted for in this report – a 37 percent increase
  • 4,461 interiors only projects reported – a 16 percent increase
  • 614 design projects are meeting the 60 percent energy reduction target – a 42 percent increase
  • 38 percent average Predicted Energy Use Intensity reduction reported by firms – an increase of 1 percent
  • 10 percent of total GSF meeting the previous 60 percent carbon reduction target – a decrease of 4 percent
  • 4 percent of total GSF meeting the new 70 percent carbon reduction target
  • 59 percent of total GSF using energy modeling to predict operational energy consumption – a 9 percent increase

In aggregate, the energy saved from the projects accounted for in this report is approximately 21 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, the equivalent of running six coal-fired power plants or powering 2.2 million homes for a year, according to the EPA Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator.

“Seeing more firms including energy modeling into their workflow is one of the encouraging takeaways from this report,” said Andrea Love, AIA, director of building science at Payette and co-chair of the AIA 2030 Working Group. “Architects are uniquely positioned to lead the energy modeling process and incorporate into their overall business strategy with their clients. This is exactly the sort of broad, cultural shift that is required to make serious inroads towards carbon reduction in buildings.”

2015 was the first year that firms used the new 2030 Design Data Exchange interactive tool that enables design teams to benchmark and target energy performance through a range of analytical aids to drive improved energy efficiency. Users of the tool are reporting that the ability to see immediate results on how their projects are performing has facilitated benchmarking and started conversations about efficiency options earlier in the design process. That has afforded them more ability to understand how the buildings will perform against baseline energy use.



Topics: Architectural Firms, Associations / Organizations, Building Owners and Managers, Construction Firms, Sustainable Communities, Urban Planning and Design

Companies: The American Institute of Architects

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