Inspiration: Federal Center South in Seattle, WA

Project: Federal Center South
Firm: ZGF Architects LLP
Location: Seattle, WA, United States
Energy Consumption: 24 EUI, 75% reduction from a typical office building
Image Credit: © Benjamin Benshneider

The new U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Seattle District Headquarters is set to be in the top 1% of greenest buildings in the U.S.

Federal Center South is targeting an ENERGY STAR score of 100 and, with a design EUI of 24 kBtu/sf/yr, achieves a 75% reduction in the fossil fuel energy over a typical office building in Seattle.

The building uses narrow floor depths and an atrium skylight for extensive natural daylighting, optimizes shading devices for passive heating, and integrates natural ventilation and passive chilled beams to minimize energy consumption. Geothermal heating wells provide on-site renewable energy. The building also collects and stores rainwater, restored a Superfund site, and recycled or salvaged nearly 99% of construction waste.

Inspiration: Construction Industry Council Zero Carbon Building, Hong Kong, China

Project: Construction Industry Council Zero Carbon Building
Firm: Arup Location: Hong Kong, China
Energy Consumption: Net-Zero Building
Image Credit: Arup

Opened in June 2012, the Construction Industry Council’s (CIC) Zero Carbon Building (ZCB) is a pioneering project to showcase state-of-the-art zero carbon building technologies and raise community awareness of sustainable living in Hong Kong. Through daylighting, cross-ventilation, a high-performance façade, high-volume-low-speed fans, radiant cooling, and desiccant dehumidifation the building achieves significant energy reductions.

Local materials, such as glass and wood, were used to further lower the carbon footprint of the building and on-site photovoltaics and a large-scale biodiesel generator produce more energy than the building consumes. The ZCB achieved BREAM Plus Platinum rating, the highest rating for excellence in building environmental performance in Hong Kong.

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Inspiration: Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL), Pittsburgh, PA

Project: Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL)
Firm: The Design Alliance Architects
Location: Pittsburgh, PA, United States
Energy Consumption: Net-Zero Building
Image Credit: Denmarsh Photography, Inc.

As the centerpiece of the Phipps Conservatory’s expansion, the Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL) is a leading model of low-carbon architecture.

It is a net-zero building that produces more energy than it consumes and achieves 80% energy reductions through building orientation for passive solar heating and cooling, extensive daylighting, shading to minimize summer cooling loads, natural ventilation, and advanced technology for on-site renewable energy production and an efficient HVAC.

Through an integrated system including rainwater harvesting, a green roof, bioswales, and a constructed wetland, the CSL also treats all sanitary water and achieves net-zero water usage.

This building is set to be the first to achieve an impressive certification trifecta of the Living Building Challenge, LEED Platinum, and SITES Certification for landscapes and provide a dynamic center for education, research, and administration.

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Inspiration: Darling Quarter, Sydney, Australia

Project: Darling Quarter
Firm: FJMT
Location: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Carbon Footprint: 72% GHG Reduction
Image Credit:  FJMT

An innovative and record-setting project, Darling Quarter is the first office to achieve the highest green building rating in Australia, a 6 Star Green Star – Office As Built certification. Through extensive daylighting, a high-performance façade, chilled beams, and a trigeneration plant that produces electricity, heat, and cooling, the building reduces its carbon footprint by 72% (as compared to an average office building in Australia).

Additionally, rainwater is harvested and recycled, 92% of main water consumption is reduced, and 100% of wastewater is treated onsite. Darling Quarter sets a high sustainability standard while creating a vibrant center for the area that integrates work and play with an emphasis on families and children.

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Carbon Visuals

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UK based company Carbon Visuals “communicates carbon stories” by producing volumetric representations of greenhouse gases.

This video provides a sense of scale for atmospheric pollution – both in total emissions and the rate of emission – by showing what the 54 million metric tons of carbon dioxide that New York City added to the atmosphere in 2010 would look like.

According to Carbon Visuals:

  • 75% of these emissions came from buildings with the majority of the rest coming from transportation,
  •  emissions in 2010 were 12% less than 2005 emissions,
  •  the City of New York is on track to reduce emissions by 30% by 2017, an important step towards reaching the 2030 Challenge targets.

Architecture Canada | RAIC Website Features 2030 Challenge Achievements

A new Architecture Canada | RAIC website featuring Canadian building projects that meet and exceed the 2030 Challenge has posted its first two case studies and promises eight additional projects available to view soon. These featured projects are “the best energy-efficient commercial buildings that have been constructed in Canada so far.”

North Vancouver City Library:

Restoration Services Centre:


The North Vancouver City Library and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority Restoration Services Centre (pictured above) have reduced energy use by an estimated 72% and 61% respectively beyond the National Average Energy Use Intensity (EUI) for their building types. Case studies on the website provide an overview of the project along with in-depth building information covering each project’s energy conservation features, information on products and materials, water conservation and drawings of site integration, floor plans, section drawings, and energy system strategies.

According to the website:
“Every project featured has been included because of the commitment made by its Owner, the Builder and the entire Design Team to create a building that reduces or eliminates its consumption of resources. Success is measured by the building’s energy use index; it can also be measured by the satisfaction and enthusiasm of every individual using or inhabiting the building.

These case study buildings have taken the first step to becoming energy neutral; their building envelopes are as efficient as possible and the implications and realities of net zero energy have been considered. The next step is to integrate renewable energy systems into the majority of new and existing buildings.”

For more information or to submit projects for possible inclusion, please visit the Architecture Canada | RAIC 2030 Challenge Case Studies page, and read more in Canadian Architect.

Photos above by Tom Arban.

DLR Group: Transformation Underway

DLR Group,  an international and interdisciplinary design firm providing architecture, engineering, planning, and interior design from offices coast-to-coast and in China, is working hard to demonstrate its full support of the initiatives and goals of the 2030 Challenge.


This year, DLR Group’s leadership traveled to its offices nationwide to discuss the firm’s plans to meet the 2030 Challenge and AIA’s 2030 Commitment.  The Kansas City Business Journal interviewed Steven McKay, a senior principal of DLR Group in Seattle, who pointed out that the key is returning to an earlier approach to planning buildings, before architects came to rely on HVAC systems and extensive electric lighting to solve their designs’ shortcomings.

“All the things you’ve forgotten when you got into the real world because ‘Here’s your budget, here’s your schedule, and oh, my God, I’ve got a great idea for a 50-story glass skyscraper in Dubai,’” McKay told the designers. “We’ve forgotten about it. But these principles exist, and we are asking that we insert that rigor back into our practice.” Read more: Groups take challenge to leave no footprint – Kansas City Business Journal

This effort continued when DLR Group designers joined founder and CEO of Architecture 2030, Edward Mazria  and Vincent Martinez, Architecture 2030’s Research and Production Coordinator, on IslandWood in Puget Sound in early August for DLR University 2010. Together, they examined and collaborated to activate DLR Group’s 2030 action plan.  DLRU 2010 welcomed sixty participants, who were themselves knowledgeable about sustainable design, and who, as Metropolis points out in its article below, are now hoped to become, “catalysts at their 22 home offices; that each local team will be able to push the envelope further in the direction of the firm’s 2030 commitments and, ideally, to win both colleagues and clients to their side in the process.” Read more: Ed Mazria’s Master Class- Metropolis 



Transformation of the Building Sector

The 2030 Challenge is fundamentally changing the U.S. Building Sector.

Seventy-three percent (73%) of the 30 largest Architecture / Engineering (A/E) firms, responsible for over $100 billion in construction annually, have now adopted and are implementing the 2030 Challenge. According to a recent poll of design industry leaders by the Design Futures Council, approximately forty percent (40%) of all U.S. architecture firms have adopted the Challenge.

The adoption of the 2030 Challenge by large A/E firms has global implications. Since most of these firms are multinational, the shift towards building to the Challenge carries important economic implications, representing a significant, stable global market for high-performance building materials, products, and on-site renewable energy systems.