2030 Challenge Stimulus Plan Hits Capitol Hill

A Stimulus Package for all Americans

President-elect Obama has committed to economic recovery, energy independence, carbon-neutral buildings by 2030 and an 80% reduction in US greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Architecture 2030 has developed a groundbreaking economic stimulus plan that, with a single investment, simultaneously addresses all of these issues. Edward Mazria and Kristina Kershner presented the 2030 Challenge Stimulus Plan last week to policymakers and industry leaders in the Nation’s Capitol where the Plan is now gathering steam. The 2030 Challenge Stimulus Plan takes a very focused approach, strategically inserting scarce investment dollars into the economy, so as to get the widest range of benefits. With a federal investment of $85.56 billion each year for two years, the Plan will: in just two years

  • create at least 8.445 million new jobs and
  • create a new $1.6 trillion renovation market

and in just five years,

  • save consumers $142.33 to 200.88 billion,
  • reduce CO2 emissions by 481.13 Million Metric Tons,
  • reduce energy consumption by 6.17 Quadrillion Btu,
  • save 1.83 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and
  • save 83.35 million barrels of oil.

The Plan accomplishes all of this and more using a simple, equitable approach that integrates a mortgage buy-down program for residential buildings and an accelerated-depreciation program for commercial buildings with the energy efficiency targets of the 2030 Challenge (see excerpt in the box below). By tying stimulus funding to the 2030 Challenge targets, the Plan both revitalizes the US economy and incentivizes the necessary shift to an energy-efficient, clean-energy economy. This powerful and comprehensive Plan benefits all Americans, no matter what income level or location in the country. The new demand for energy efficiency upgrades and infusion of capital will create over 8 million new jobs, including a new $1.6 trillion renovation market that will put the construction industry back to work immediately. Due to the large number of products and services involved, the investment in the Building Sector would be spread across the entire US and across all industries (from steel, insulation and caulking to mechanical, electrical and solar equipment, glass, wood, metals, tile, fabrics and paint) and all sectors (from design, engineering, banking and development to manufacturing, construction, wholesale, retail and distribution).

In addition, the $142.33 to 200.88 billion in consumer mortgage and energy savings will provide much-needed disposable income to fuel economic growth. Also, the reductions in energy consumption, CO2 emissions, natural gas and oil will put the country on the path to energy independence and signal our commitment to addressing climate change. The ‘icing on the cake’ is that the cost of the Plan will be paid back each year through the new tax base created by the new jobs. Separately, Architecture 2030 has also called for updating the National Model Building Energy Codes to achieve overall energy savings, compared to the 2006 IECC for residential buildings and ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2004 for commercial buildings, of at least: 30% by 2010, 50% by 2016 and 75% by 2022, reaching carbon neutral in 2030.

The 2030 Challenge Stimulus Plan bridges the gap between 2009 and the implementation of the updated National Codes in 2011. While addressing the country’s immediate needs, it builds a foundation of experience and momentum that will ease the transition to the updated Codes that will transform the US Building Sector by 2030. Investing in the Building Sector is the only investment that can accomplish all of these objectives. The simplicity of the 2030 Challenge Stimulus Plan, and its ability to have such a wide-ranging positive and immediate impact, has garnered a lot of attention on the Hill. The Plan is now being reviewed by the Transition Team. Read the full Plan here.

From Transition Team Weighing Blockbuster Housing and Stimulus Proposal by David Sassoon – Dec 12th, 2008 If you are a homeowner, you can bring your mortgage rate down 2 or 3 or 4 points – with Uncle Sam picking up the difference – if you improve the energy efficiency of your home. It’s an offer you can’t refuse, because it means you can save hundreds of dollars on a typical monthly mortgage, plus hundreds more in reduced energy bills – in perpetuity. Those savings immediately go in to family coffers and can get spent, stimulating the economy. At the same time, all the demand for energy efficiency upgrades creates millions of jobs. The government recoups its investment in the mortgage buy-down from the income tax collected from the newly employed. And greenhouse gas emissions go down dramatically.

Mazria walked me through a hypothetical example that highlighted the huge incentives the plan could unleash. Say you’re a homeowner with a $272,000 mortgage at 5.55%, paying about $1,550 a month. You decide you want your mortgage rate to drop to 3%. In order to qualify for the reduction, you have to improve the energy efficiency of your home 75% below code, and it’s going to cost you a pretty penny: about $40,000. Existing tax credits would take care of about $10,000 of that cost. The rest would get tacked on to your existing mortgage, bringing it up to $302,000. But, at 3%, you’d be paying only about $1,280 – saving almost $300 a month on the mortgage alone, plus another $150 in reduced energy costs. The value of your home rises, you have more disposable income, you’ve given work to someone to do the upgrades for you – and s/he’s now paying federal taxes, and you’ve reduced your carbon footprint.

For additional discussion, see Adam Siegel’s article, Massively Efficient Path to Save the Economy, at The Huffington Post. Also look for Edward Mazria’s December 17, 2008 post at Grist.

Sea Level Rise Greater Than Expected

Bad News for the US

A new report appearing in today’s Science magazine, ‘Kinematic Constraints on Glacier Contributions to 21st-Century Sea-Level Rise’, projects a sea level rise of up to two meters this century. Many Americans are unaware of how little a rise in sea level is required to devastate the US. According to Architecture 2030’s sea level rise study, ‘Nation Under Siege’, beginning with just one meter, hundreds of US cities and towns along the East Coast, Gulf of Mexico and West Coast would be inundated – from East Boston MA, Point Pleasant NJ, Charleston SC and Miami FL on the Atlantic to Cape Coral and Tampa FL, New Orleans LA, and Galveston TX on the Gulf to Foster City CA and Seaside OR on the Pacific.

Prior to 1996, the rate of sea level rise was approximately two millimeters per year. Since 1996, the rate of sea level rise has almost doubled to 3.4 millimeters per year, the increase being due to land-based ice melt in Greenland and West Antarctica (see graph below). NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory recently launched a new website measuring the planet’s vital signs, including sea level rise.

Charleston,SC 1.5M Saint Augustine, FL 1M
Charleston, SC: 1.5m rise Saint Augustine, FL: 1.0m rise
Sea Level Rise Sea Level Rise Chart
Hampton Beach, NH: 1.0m rise Sea Level Rise (source: Josh Willis, NASA jpl)

Sea level rise is already having a significant impact on US coastal areas. “Flooding of low-lying regions by storm surges and spring tides is becoming more frequent and causing more damage and disruptions. Around the Chesapeake Bay, wetlands are being submerged, fringe forests are dying and being converted to marsh, farmland and lawns are being converted to marsh; and some roads are routinely flooded at high tides. ‘Ghost forests’ of standing dead trees killed by salt-water intrusion are becoming increasingly common in southern New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, Louisiana, and North Carolina. Rising sea level is gradually intruding into estuaries and threatening fresh-water aquifers”, according to a recent study (draft) from the US Climate Change Science Program.

Rising Seas On the South Carolina Coast

Using Architecture 2030 maps and video, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) created the following video on the impacts of rising sea level on the Charleston, SC area:

Rising Seas: Challenges and Opportunities for the Lowcountry

Rising Seas: Challenges and Opportunities for the Lowcountry from Open Dome Studios on Vimeo.

Mazria Unveils Blueprint at Historic Energy Summit

Energy Independence is Within Reach

This week, at a historic gathering of industry leaders, scientists, policy experts and elected officials, Edward Mazria laid out a path for US energy independence.

The roster of speakers at the first annual National Clean Energy Summit, hosted by US Senator Harry Reid, the Center for American Progress Action Fund and the University of Nevada Las Vegas, read as a Who’s Who of individuals at the forefront of solving our energy and climate crises. Alongside Mazria, the lineup included Senator Reid, Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, oilman T. Boone Pickens and President Clinton, who, in his keynote address, stressed the importance of the Building Sector in addressing climate change.

In his talk, Mazria unveiled the 2030 Blueprint, a three-pronged solution that uses building energy efficiency, homeowner choices and renewable energy to completely replace conventional coal by the year 2025 and to free up natural-gas-generated electricity for mass transit and plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles by 2030. To implement the 2030 Blueprint, Mazria calls for 1) upgrading the National Building Energy Conservation Code Standard to meet the 2030 Challenge targets, 2) investing $21.6 billion a year for five years in building energy efficiency and 3) passing federal legislation requiring an aggressive Renewable Portfolio Standard of at least 30% for electricity generation.

The 2030 Blueprint

1. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that by 2030 US electricity consumption will increase by 6.97 Qbtu. The entire increase is due to additional demand in electricity for building operations.
2. By implementing the 2030 Blueprint, the US can phase out the use of conventional coal by 2025 and free up natural gas for other uses by 2030.

Architecture 2030 will release a new study in September, describing in detail how to implement the 2030 Blueprint. The 2030 Blueprint was outlined previously in a study released by Architecture 2030 in April 2008.

Meeting the 2030 Challenge Through Building Codes

Cracking the Code: A Much-Awaited Approach for Dramatically Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

In a major announcement today, Edward Mazria and Architecture 2030 have released an unprecedented and much-anticipated guide for every city, county and state in the nation to swiftly meet the greenhouse gas reduction targets of the 2030 Challenge.

Published in a new white paper, titled “Meeting the 2030 Challenge Through Building Codes”, a single chart provides the key to deciphering various building energy codes, standards and rating systems as they relate to the immediate 50% reduction target called for in the 2030 Challenge.

Using the code equivalents provided in the chart below, local governments, states and industry professionals can achieve dramatic reductions and be confident that they are meeting the 2030 Challenge.

2030 Challenge Code Equivalents

Download the White Paper (.pdf)

Major Victory in the Midwest: The Minnesota Sustainable Building 2030 Bill

The Architecture 2030 Challenge is now law in the state of Minnesota.

On May 8, Governor Tim Pawlenty signed the Minnesota Sustainable Building 2030 bill, which requires that buildings receiving state funding meet energy efficiency targets of the 2030 Challenge with a 60% reduction in 2010, 70% in 2015, 80% in 2020 and 90% in 2025.

Minnesota proponents of the Architecture 2030 Challenge testified in support of the bill to the Minnesota Senate and House Energy Committees. Architecture 2030 would like to thank Perkins+Will, The Weidt Group, Studio 2030, Minnesota Center for Energy and Environment, the University of Minnesota Center for Sustainable Building Research, LHB Architects, Architectural Alliance, the Green Institute, Indigenous Environmental Network and the many other individuals and organizations whose efforts helped secure this historic legislation.

Minnesota now joins the ranks of California, Illinois, Dallas, Santa Barbara, Richmond, Albuquerque, the Federal Government and others who are working to implement the 2030 Challenge targets. The Minnesota Sustainable Building 2030 Bill was authored by Representative Bill Hilty and Senator Yvonne Pretner Solon and co-authored by Senators Scott Dibble, Dave Senjem, Ellen Anderson and Julie Rosen and Representatives Jeremy Kalin, Brita Sailer, Kate Knuth, Alice Hausman, Bob Gunther, Matt Dean, Linda Slocum, Maria Ruud and David Bly.

View the Sustainable Building 2030 bill online (SF 2706 and HF 3401).

Solving Climate Change Saves Billions: The 2030 Blueprint Study

A groundbreaking st2030Blueprintudy released by Architecture 2030 this week shows that an investment of just $21.6 billion towards building energy efficiency would replace 22.3 conventional coal-fired plants, reduce CO2 emissions by 86.7 MMT, save 204 billion cubic feet of natural gas and 10.7 million barrels of oil, save consumers $8.46 billion in energy bills and create 216,000 new jobs.

The 2030 Blueprint study gives a comparative analysis of three approaches to addressing climate change – building energy efficiency, ‘clean’ coal (with carbon capture and sequestration) and nuclear power – while laying a new roadmap for solving the global warming and US economic crises.

This plan, the 2030 Blueprint, is generating excitement amongst many diverse industries and groups for its practicality and achievability.

> Download the complete 2030 Blueprint study here

Face It Webcast

There is a Solution to Global Warming

Over 175,000 people chose to “Face It” on January 30, 2008, tuning into this webcast to kick-off Focus the Nation and 2030’s Reverberate Competitions.