The 2030 Palette Is Now Live!

Sefaira integrates 2030 Challenge benchmarks into its real time energy analysis platform

Sefaira and Architecture 2030 Partner to Drive Deep Energy Reductions in the Building Sector

We’re delighted to announce that we’ve partnered with Sefaira, the leader in software for high performance building design, to raise awareness of the 2030 Challenge and help architects achieve the Challenge targets.

As of this month, 2030 Challenge benchmarks are integrated directly into Sefaira’s newest product, Sefaira for SketchUp, helping architects to put their designs on track and achieve these goals.

Sefaira automatically calculates 2030 Challenge benchmarks from only two inputs (building use and location), then tracks a design’s projected energy consumption against this benchmark in real time.

This intuitive analysis and tracking makes it easy for 2030 Challenge adopters to measure their progress toward 2030 Challenge goals on every project. By integrating 2030 Challenge benchmarks directly into its real time energy analysis software, Sefaira aims to expand the reach of these targets and make it easier for architects to achieve them.

Architecture 2030 CEO and Founder Ed Mazria said, “One of the requirements we identified as key to meeting the 2030 Challenge were design tools to help architects and engineers make informed decisions on energy use during the critical early phases of design. Sefaira is a product that promises to give professionals the energy analysis information they need, and it is an exciting example of the progress we’ve made towards the transformation of the built environment.”

> there’s more information in our press release

The Global Building Sector and the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report – Ed Mazria’s Analysis

Denial Is Not A River In Egypt

While the fossil fuel industry continues to hawk its wares in total denial of the devastating global effects of its actions, the new International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report confirms the necessity for immediate and sustained action.

The IPCC report reveals how close we are to a turning point in the earth’s climate system, and reveals two critical numbers that speak to the urgency of the situation:

  • One trillion tons – a maximum global carbon budget of one trillion tons burned is necessary to keep global warming under two degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels; and
  • 2020 – the year global CO2 emissions must peak in order to burn less than one trillion tons of carbon (the world has already burned more than half of that to date).

The underlying conclusion of the report is that the time has arrived for taking the necessary steps to preserve livable conditions on earth: i.e., we must stop burning fossil fuels as quickly as possible. 

The IPCC report defines four timeline scenarios (Representative Concentration Pathways or RCPs) plotting amounts of carbon burned and resulting global average temperatures, depending on when global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) peak and then decline. The IPCC chose to plot the “business as usual” scenario (RCP 8.5 – continued increase in GHG emissions), then scenarios for global GHG emission peaks in the year 2080 (RCP 6.0), 2040-2050 (RCP 4.5), and 2020 (RCP 2.6). Only by peaking GHG emissions in the year 2020 or sooner, and phasing out conventional fossil fuel burning around 2080, can we stay beneath the total of one trillion tons of carbon burned, which represents the threshold of catastrophic climate change, as shown in the following graphs:



A GHG emissions peak by about 2020 (RCP 2.6) will be necessary to keep global warming under the two degrees Celsius (above preindustrial levels) threshold. If we exceed the world carbon budget of one trillion tons burned (RCP 4.5, 6.0 and 8.5), the models project the planet will keep warming and it will be virtually impossible to bring global average temperature back under the two degrees Celsius threshold.



The good news is U.S. GHG emissions peaked in 2007 and are currently 12% below 2007 levels. We must continue this trend in America. The bad news is, global GHG emissions are continuing to rise.

We can now say with confidence that when it comes to this problem, denial is not a river in Egypt – but is instead the highway to a hellish future of irreversible climate change. Consequently, time is truly of the essence. We need to seize this opportunity now to make a difference that will take us on the road to a transformative global vision of the built environment. The future depends on us.

AIA Portland Presents the 4th Annual Portland 2030 Challenge Design Awards

Architecture 2030, in collaboration with AIA Portland and their Committee on the Environment (COTE) and the BetterBricks Initiative of the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, recently presented the fourth annual 2030 Challenge Design Awards in recognition of design excellence towards meeting the 2030 Challenge reduction targets. This year’s Awards were presented as part of AIA Portland’s annual Honor Awards ceremony.

“We saw an improvement in the level of carbon reduction this year over last, and a few more net zero projects. Support for the 2030 Award seems to be growing as evidenced by the fact it was held as an integral part of the regular Design Awards program this year, ” said Joshua Hatch of Brightworks Sustainability, a member of AIA Portland’s COTE.

“Many project teams spent the extra effort to improve building performance and reduce carbon emissions,” he explained. “Architecture 2030 is very pleased to see that there is an increasing number of entries that are greatly exceeding the 2030 Challenge 60% reduction target,” said Vincent Martinez, Architecture 2030 Director of Research and Operations. “It’s especially encouraging to see entries across a range of building types – residential, commercial and institutional starting to target net zero/carbon neutral.”

Winners were selected from projects submitted for the AIA Portland 2013 Design Awards and, in addition to reduced energy consumption, submissions were required to include a calculation of operational carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Jurors then considered these CO2 calculations along with other design elements.

The following projects were winners of the 2030 Challenge Design Awards:

Grand Prize: Greatest Effort –  Chemeketa Community College Health Science Complex – SRG Partnerships

Net-Zero Excellence: Residential – Karuna House – Holst Architecture

Net-Zero Excellence: Commercial – Sokol Blosser Winery Tasting Room – Allied Works

The Chemeketa Community College Health Science Complex in Salem, OR also exceeds the 2030 Challenge targets, generating 88% fewer CO2 emissions than the average US building of the same type and size.

The Karuna House in Newberg, OR is the first MINERGIE-certified home in North America, earning the top rating of MINERGIE-P-ECO. Additionally, it has achieved Passive House PHIUS+, is pending LEED for Homes Platinum, and has reached Net Zero energy use by incorporating onsite solar panels.

The Sokol Blosser Winery Tasting Room in Dayton, WA is also a net-zero energy building, and is on track to achieve Living Building Challenge (LCB) certification by 2014. AIA Portland’s adoption of the 2030 Challenge design targets and its incorporation of the CO2 emissions calculations into the competition demonstrate an ongoing commitment to a low-carbon future and a step forward in understanding the full meaning of design excellence. We would love to see all AIA components to adopt 2030 Challenge targets as part of their competitions.

> Learn about earlier winners of the Portland 2030 Challenge Design Awards

Introducing the 2030 Palette

The 2030 Palette is a free interactive online platform that puts the principles and actions behind low-carbon and resilient built environments at the fingertips of architects, planners and designers worldwide.

Architecture 2030 has developed this free online tool as a powerful catalyst for driving broad implementation of the 2030 Challenge and more – ensuring that our buildings and communities consume fewer fossil fuels, complement and preserve sensitive ecosystems, access site renewable energy resources, and successfully adapt to climatic changes.

> more information

Architecture 2030 Ranked #1 in Organizational Effectiveness

We would like to thank all of our Architecture 2030 supporters who have adopted and are implementing the targets of our 2030 Challenges.

You have made a major impact in lowering U.S. energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Because of your work, Architecture 2030 was ranked #1 this year in organizational effectiveness on leadership and resource deployment by DesignIntelligence in their 2013 Sustainable Design and Leadership Survey of leading U.S. architecture and design firms. According to the DI survey, firms committed to meeting the 2030 Challenge continued to rise in 2013:

And, as a further indication of the transformation underway in how we plan and design the built environment, Architecture School Deans weighed in:

64.6% 67.8%
Percentage of architecture deans cited an increasing emphasis on “sustainable design” as one of the most significant changes in course offerings in the past five years. Percentage of architecture deans cited “sustainability / climate change” as one of the biggest concerns in the design profession.

The building sector could not have made these important advances without your continued support, actions, and encouragement. Together, we are accelerating a transformation of the built environment.

“Clean, Environmentally Friendly Shale Gas?” – Consider the Source

Consider the Source (or, How to Swashbuckle Like a Pirate)

The American Gas Association (AGA), flush with cash from increased consumption of shale gas extracted through fracking, and all the political power that comes with it, makes no bones about wanting the repeal of Section 433 of the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA). Section 433 requires new federal buildings and major renovations to meet the 2030 Challenge targets (no fossil fuel energy consumption by 2030). The AGA’s weapon of choice to achieve this is to add the Hoeven-Manchin Amendment, to repeal Section 433, to the Shaheen–Portman Bill (a.k.a. the 2030 Repeal). AGA’s ultimate goal is for the U.S. to increase its use of what it calls “clean, abundant and environmentally friendly” shale gas.

Clean, Environmentally Friendly Shale Gas?

The planet is currently at 396ppm CO2 in the atmosphere, way past the 350ppm danger point. The planet is warming at an unprecedented pace and we are now experiencing the dangerous effects of climate change. The following graph clearly illustrates why we must phase down fossil fuel use and emissions – before we reach the specter of more climate tipping points. As illustrated, fracking and burning even a fraction of available shale gas will be incredibly destructive and irresponsible.

Don’t let the AGA fool you: despite its handwringing over sensible (and flexible, as written in Section 433) targets, the organization is no “Mom and Pop” suffering from overregulation: the simple fact is that the AGA is one of the largest, most powerful special interest groups in the United States, with many lobbyists on its payroll. If it weren’t, Congress wouldn’t be listening.

Worth Fighting For

Section 433 is a “cornerstone” piece of legislation because it adopts the 2030 Challenge targets and sets a federal standard specifically for reducing the use of fossil fuels in federal building operations.

Section 433 is worth fighting for because:

  • It demonstrates the U.S. government’s capacity to be a world leader in addressing climate change and reducing CO2 emissions.
  • It supports the tremendous progress towards a low carbon future underway in the Building Sector.
  • It saves taxpayers billions of dollars in federal energy costs.

The Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency bill making its way through the Senate has, up to this point, enjoyed bipartisan support. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and Architecture 2030, as well as most Building Sector and environmental firms and organizations, have supported the bill – but will firmly oppose it should Hoeven-Manchin’s “2030 Repeal” amendment be part of the deal.

Make no mistake: since its introduction in 2011, Shaheen-Portman has been so diluted by special interests that if the bill includes the 2030 Repeal, it won’t be worth supporting.

Slash and Burn

Now, the fossil fuel industry is holding Shaheen-Portman hostage in the Senate (so much for bi-partisan support) unless the 2030 Repeal is included in the bill. This past week, the AGA enlisted back-up from two environmental (efficiency) organizations, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) and the Alliance to Save Energy (ASE). In a recent interview regarding its support for the repeal of Section 433, Steven Nadel, Executive Director of ACEEE, “argues that a compromise with the fossil-fuel industry was necessary for the bill [Shaheen-Portman] to move forward at all.”

Really? Just how many compromises must be made, and amendments added, to the Shaheen-Portman bill for it to be acceptable to the fossil fuel industry? And how many of these pirate raids on Shaheen-Portman will it take before ACEEE and ASE wake up and realize that the bill is being looted?

The Shaheen-Portman bill has already been gutted substantially from the original bill introduced in 2011. For example, the following Section for national building energy code update targets was completely removed:

Removed in the Reintroduced 2013 Shaheen-Portman Bill

(B) GOALS- The Secretary shall–
(i) establish goals of zero-net-energy for new commercial and residential buildings by 2030; and
(ii) work with State and local governments, the International Code Council, ASHRAE, and other interested parties to achieve these goals through a combination of national model building energy codes, appliance and lighting standards, and research, development, and demonstration of new efficiency and clean energy technologies.

Not coincidentally, the only environmental organizations invited to testify on the Hoeven-Manchin amendment to the Sheehan-Portman bill were ACEEE and ASE. Architecture 2030’s Technical Review of Steven Nadel’s (ACEEE) Senate testimony is available here.

A Line in the Sand and an Unstoppable Tide

Building Sector and environmental leaders have drawn a line in the sand. The AIA, Architecture 2030,, the Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, Environment America, Environmental and Energy Study Institute, New Buildings Institute, American Society of Landscape Architects, American Chemistry Council, and over 350 other architecture, engineering, environmental, and building industry firms and organizations recently sent a letter to the Senate opposing the “2030 Repeal”.

What’s more, the Building Sector itself is engaged in a sea change. Since 2005, the Sector has dramatically reduced its projected energy consumption to 2030, saving American consumers over $4.5 trillion. There is every reason to continue moving towards meeting the 2030 Challenge targets, including additional massive savings to consumers, turning the tide on carbon emissions, planning for climatic changes, recovering from climate disasters in responsible and resilient ways, and remaining on the cutting edge of planning and design. In short, a massive wave of momentum led by architects, engineers, planners, builders, developers, and other Building Sector professionals is rumbling forward. This powerful movement will change the U.S. landscape and promises to scuttle even the largest pirate vessel, and Section 433 has an important place as its national flagship. To make your voice heard, use the AIA’s guide to contact your Senators.

So, Where Does the White House Stand?

Some believe the fossil fuel industry and American Gas Association have a vise-like grip on Congressional legislation. More than 350 Building Sector and environmental firms and organizations believe otherwise. To advocate for the 2030 Repeal and its fossil fuel reduction targets for federal buildings is not only shortsighted, but also irresponsible, given the environmental, climatic, and societal impacts of fracking and burning shale gas.

The President has vigorously supported Section 433 in the past by issuing Executive Order 13514 in 2009. The Executive Order requires federal agencies to meet federal building energy reduction targets, including implementation of the 2030 net-zero-energy building requirement. And recently, the White House Blog posted the American Institute of Architects’ statement opposing the repeal of Section 433, usually an indication of their current position.

Meanwhile, the AGA continues to “Frack Frack Frack” and Shake its Booty for Congress, leaving the American public to pick up the pieces of a broken environment.

With the Building Sector determined to meet the 2030 Challenge targets, the AGA, on the wrong side of history, will eventually lose the pirate’s game.

Colorado’s ZNE Goose Lays Golden Eggs

With political acrimony in Washington expected to continue, state and local governments cannot wait for the federal government to create the badly needed jobs, economic activity, and resultant revenue needed to sustain themselves; they must use the options available and undertake the task on their own – and they can.

Colorado just took a giant step forward.

The Centennial State is set to create more construction jobs, increase state and local government tax revenue, and move its housing market to Zero Net Energy (ZNE) – meaning homes that produce as much on-site energy as they consume!

Thanks to the Colorado Energy Saving Mortgage Program, signed into law by Governor Hickenlooper on May 28, a homebuyer purchasing a new or renovated ZNE (HERS 0 rating) home is eligible for an $8,000 reduction on financing the total cost of their home mortgage. A new or renovated home that has a HERS rating greater than HERS 0, but less than HERS 50 (50% energy reduction), will also receive a mortgage reduction incentive.

In addition to an $8,000 mortgage incentive, homebuyers will benefit further from lower energy bills, which can be used to offset any cost increase on a ZNE home. For example, $30,000 in improvements on a 2,200 square foot home, after the $8,000 incentive, would require an additional $94.53 in mortgage payments each month. The monthly energy savings, however, would be $154.00. That’s a net savings of $59.47 a month.

Bill introduced by Senator Gail Schwartz, and Representatives Max Tyler and Mike Foote.
Example is based on a 30-year, 4% mortgage, and average home energy cost of $0.84/sf/year.

Under this new program, a homebuyer can receive an $8,000 incentive, and purchase a zero net energy home that is worth substantially more – and at a lower annual cost than an equivalent non-ZNE home.

According to the analysis conducted by Architecture 2030, each $1 million in incentives will generate:

  • $16.22 million in direct spending,
  • $16.49 million in indirect and induced spending, and
  • $1.92 million in state and local government tax revenue.

This program “has great support from the construction and financial sectors, as we continue to work together to keep Colorado at the forefront of renewable energy, clean tech and energy efficiency policy nationally” said Senator Gail Schwartz.

With interest rates low, now is the ideal time to leverage state and local government incentives to generate local building sector jobs, increase tax revenue, and stimulate the growth of an affordable high-performance housing market.

New York is following Colorado’s lead.

On May 17th, Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton introduced a Zero Net Energy Tax Credit Bill in the New York State Assembly.

The bill, patterned after the ZNE program developed by Architecture 2030, would give homebuyers a personal state income tax credit for purchasing a new or renovated home equal to:

  • $5,000 for a HERS 50 home (50% energy reduction),
  • $7,500 for a HERS 25 home (75% energy reduction), and
  • $10,000 for a HERS 0 home (zero net energy).

The tax credit would more that pay for itself – each $1 million in tax credits would create approximately $27 million in total spending, and generate over $3 million in state and local government tax revenue.

And in New Mexico,

a Sustainability Tax Credit bill, introduced by Senator Peter Wirth, was passed and recently signed by the Governor. The bill provides personal and corporate income tax credits, for both new and renovated high-performance commercial and residential buildings.

We encourage each state to get into the golden egg business with its own ZNE goose. For more information and a customized state ZNE Plan, contact Architecture 2030.

See the latest information on strategies for designing Zero Net Energy buildings at the new groundbreaking 2030 Palette.

Of Champagne and Parallel Universes – Building Sector Energy Consumption Trending Downward

Building sector energy consumption and projections are trending downward dramatically. According to the recently released U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) 2013 statistics and projections, Building Sector projections for energy consumption in the year 2030 have declined annually since 2005, even though we plan to add over 60 billion square feet (a 22.6% increase) to our building stock by then.

What this means is, we have no need to add more electricity generating capacity – additional power plants – to service the building sector today, or in the near future.

Although this news is cause for celebration, it appears to be deeply troubling to the gas and fossil fuel industry. So troubling, in fact, that somewhere in a parallel universe the American Gas Association is again pushing for repeal of Section 433 (which calls for new and renovated carbon neutral federal buildings by 2030), by creating an illusory need for more natural gas.

The truth is, if we incorporate the “best available demand technology” in our building designs (roughly equivalent to meeting the 2030 Challenge targets), we can reduce the Building Sector’s energy consumption by 2030 even further. Under this scenario, the EIA estimates that we would reduce the need for building operations energy by an additional 8.1 QBtu and reduce U.S. electricity capacity by 177,700 megawatts between now and 2030, roughly the equivalent of 355 large coal or gas fired 500MW plants. This would reduce CO2 emissions from building operations by a staggering 29.8% below 2005 levels by 2030.

It is clear that the Building Sector is tracking ahead of the 2030 Challenge reduction targets with unstoppable momentum. We’re vigorously addressing today’s critical issues of energy security and environmental stewardship. We’re doing what we set out to do six years ago.

Here in our universe, we’re breaking out the champagne!


Political Hardball: Part II

EcoBuilding Pulse:
AIA to Congress: Don’t Gut Energy Conservation Requirements

American Institute of Architects:
Letter to Congress