ZERO Code: The Future Has Arrived

Introducing the first national and international ZERO Code for new commercial, institutional, and mid- to high-rise residential buildings. 

China ZNC Design Professional Training

China takes the next step on the path toward a carbon neutral built environment by 2050.

On September 20th-22nd, Architecture 2030 and the China Exploration and Design Association Architecture Branch (CEDAAB) co-hosted a Zero Net Carbon (ZNC) professional training workshop in Shanghai, China. The event, put on by the Tongji Architectural Design Group Co. Ltd., was the first training of its kind to prepare architects, planners, building sector professionals, and future trainers from across China to design ZNC developments and buildings.

Globally, urban environments are responsible for nearly 75% of the world’s GHG emissions. Therefore, in order to achieve the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global average temperature increase to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, it is crucial to reduce the energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of the building sector.

“The Chinese government has reiterated on multiple occasions its determination to implement the responsibilities and obligations agreed to in the Paris Agreement. Protecting the environment and Mother Earth is the architects’ professional duty and social responsibility.”

Zhen Chen, Secretary-General of CEDAAB

China is adding roughly two billion square meters (21.5 billion square feet) of new buildings each year in order to accommodate an urban population expected to reach one billion people by 2030. Due to this tremendous growth, it is more important than ever that collaborations be established with Chinese design professionals to share the available principles, tools, and processes that deliver highly efficient, ZNC buildings and developments.

Since October 2015, 62 Chinese local design institutes (LDIs) and international architecture and planning firms have signed the China Accord, setting “carbon neutral or near carbon neutral” as the design standard for all new building projects in China. CEDAAB and Architecture 2030 have since established ZNC as a necessary and achievable goal for Chinese building design practice. In June 2016, CEDAAB established a Zero Carbon Green Building technical committee to further promote ZNC design in China.

The China ZNC training program built on the momentum established by the China Accord, providing a rare opportunity to bring together top international and Chinese professionals in the fields of planning, building energy consumption and emissions, solar analysis, passive heating and cooling, daylighting, and renewable energy systems. Expert speakers from SOM, SmithGroupJJR, NBBJ, DLR Group, University of Massachusetts Amherst, CallisonRTKL, the University of Washington, and Perkins+Will, discussed and presented strategies and methods for sustainable and ZNC design and planning practices applicable to China.

At the training, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, discussed EDGE certification and its incorporation of ZNC into the tool. On September 22nd, Autodesk delivered a half-day workshop on the application of Insight 360, its Revit plug-in, providing a hands-on demonstration on how the tool is used to inform early building design decisions.

The two and a half-day training and workshop were well attended by approximately 200 building professionals from throughout China.

The overarching goal of the ZNC workshop was to empower architects to assume a leadership role in the design of sustainable and carbon neutral buildings and developments, by providing them with applicable and cost-effective methods and case studies. The program ensured that participants understood the rationale behind various strategies, and were able to confidently deploy these strategies to effectively reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions.

“Chinese architects must implement zero net carbon design strategies throughout the entire design process, and not design ‘watermelon style green buildings’ – appearing green on the outside only – for the sake of achieving a certification.”

Xueya Che, Director of the Zero Carbon Green Buildings Technical Committee of CEDAAB

Multiple LDIs throughout China have expressed interest in bringing the ZNC training to their offices, to broaden the reach of the knowledge. As each LDI employees hundreds of architects, the impact of the training is expected to be significant. Architecture 2030 has also been invited to meet with various LDIs and Chinese cities in Guangzhou in March 2018, with the goal of introducing and implementing a new international building code standard in China.

With the ongoing collaboration between Chinese LDIs and international firms, China is in a position to provide global leadership on the pathway towards a ZNC built environment. The stone has been cast, and the ripples are beginning to spread. A transformation of the built environment in China is underway.


The 2030 Palette Updated

At the China ZNC Professional Training, Architecture 2030 presented the updated version of the 2030 Palette, an innovative online platform that provides the guiding principles and actions needed to create low-carbon, adaptable, and resilient built environments. This free online tool presents planning, landscape, and building design practices that are global in scale yet local in application. The updated version of the 2030 Palette has new project examples and resources including references to IFC’s EDGE, and is now easily accessible in China. The 2030 Palette is available in English, Spanish and Chinese languages.


Up next: Greenbuild India 

Architecture 2030 is excited to announce that Edward Mazria, founder and CEO of Architecture 2030, will be giving the opening keynote at GreenBuild India: “India Rising: Providing Global Leadership”. Much like China, India now plays a critical global role in addressing climate change and greenhouse gas emissions: by 2050, nearly 15% of global new construction is expected to take place in India. The conference will be held on November 2-5 in Mumbai, India, and will address pressing issues such as air quality, human health, energy use, and global climate change.

Also taking place at Greenbuild India is an EDGE Technical Workshop that covers the tool’s capabilities, the EDGE certification process, and includes a tutorial on using the EDGE software.

On the EDGE of a Global Transformation

International Finance Corporation and Architecture 2030 Collaborate on Zero Net Carbon Buildings for the developing world.

We’re delighted to announce that Architecture 2030 and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, have partnered to support the international architecture and building community in designing zero net carbon (ZNC) buildings worldwide.

IFC created the EDGE program, a green building certification system with free online software for emerging markets. As part of the partnership, EDGE software has been enhanced to include carbon reporting, as well as recognition for the procurement of off-site renewable energy and carbon offsets. This improvement will support building projects in dense urban areas, which first target on-site efficiency strategies and then add or procure renewable energy in order to reach ZNC, as defined by Architecture 2030.

“With the anticipated and unprecedented growth of the building sector in China, India, and other developing countries, it is essential that designers have the capability to measure the energy and emissions impacts of their projects and immediately target ZNC as a viable design strategy.”

– Edward Mazria, CEO and Founder of Architecture 2030


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2030 Challenge International Benchmarks Set

Architecture 2030 will also be integrating the energy consumption baselines from IFC’s EDGE into its Zero Tool, which is used by architects to estimate building fossil fuel energy consumption baselines and targets. EDGE baselines are sophisticated sets of city-based climate and cost data, consumption patterns, and algorithms for a variety of building types in 131 countries. Achieving ZNC in these fast growing markets will be critical to reaching the targets set by the Paris Agreement. Of the approximately 672 billion square feet estimated to be built worldwide by 2030, 78% will be in EDGE-covered countries (42% in China and India alone).

This announcement also serves to support the growing number of international firms striving to meet the 2030 Challenge targets, including those participating in the American Institute of Architects’ 2030 Commitment. In the 2016 reporting period for the Commitment, over 2.5 billion square feet of projects reported (or 28% of total floor space) were in EDGE-covered countries. The AIA also supports the use of EDGE baselines by encouraging signatories of the 2030 Commitment to use the EDGE software when benchmarking international projects.

“EDGE provides locally relevant baselines for the international design community, and the inclusion of onsite and offsite renewable energy is critical for zero net carbon buildings in rapidly urbanizing areas.”

– Vincent Martinez, COO of Architecture 2030

> see press release here

Life During Trump: Progress on Climate Change Will Come From the Bottom Up


“We are facing two very different and defining moments in history, the ratification of the Paris Climate Agreement and the results of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Should the U.S. government fail to honor or withdraw from the Paris Agreement, this will be completely inconsistent with our core values and professional and civic responsibilities. 

The U.S. and global architecture and planning community, along with our colleagues in the building sector and sub-national governments, will continue to lead the effort to implement the objectives contained in the Paris Agreement and drive progress toward an equitable, sustainable, resilient, and carbon-neutral built environment.” 

          Edward Mazria, Founder and CEO, Architecture 2030


Dear colleagues and friends,

As many are left feeling fearful and uncertain in the wake of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, it is important to remember that we have been, and continue to be, far from powerless to continue to effect meaningful change. After the 2012 elections, when Congressional gridlock set in, it became evident that change in the built environment would not happen from the top down. It had to happen from the bottom up.

With the election results last week, this has not changed. Our work is now more important than ever. For some time now, real and measurable progress has been made at the state and local levels, and in the private sector where building design and planning, innovation, equity, policy, business, and climate change intersect. This broad base of momentum is firmly established and will continue to accelerate, regardless of last week’s election.

Worldwide, 533 cities are now reporting their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, a 70% increase in reporting since the Paris Agreement. To date, 30% of these cities have GHG emissions reduction targets. In North America, 56% of the cities reporting have GHG emissions reduction targets, many declaring zero emissions or an 80% reduction by 2050 or earlier.

The International Union of Architects with member organizations representing over 1.3 million architects in 124 countries worldwide has unanimously adopted the 2050 Imperative, a declaration to eliminate CO2 emissions in the built environment by 2050. Individual architecture, engineering, and planning firms continue to make a commitment to design to carbon neutral standards by 2030, including top international and Chinese architecture and planning firms that have signed the China Accord and are now working to implement it. Over 350 firms have joined the AIA 2030 Commitment.

Ten Green Building Councils worldwide – Canada, Germany, United States, China, India, South Africa, Australia, Brazil, The Netherlands and Sweden – are now creating zero net carbon building certification pathways. The 2030 Districts Network continues to grow throughout North America, and is poised to go international.

As important, the market has spoken. At the utility scale, flattening electricity demand (due to building efficiency gains) in the U.S. will make the need for new fossil fuel fired power plants unlikely. Photovoltaic (PV) and wind energy production is cheaper and more feasible than ever. Residential and community solar installations and financing mechanisms are increasing dramatically, providing affordable energy and access to homeowners and renters at all income levels.  There are now 300,000 solar jobs in the U.S., a number that has doubled in the last 12 months.

The emergence of new PV products and battery storage is likely to transform the housing market, while LED lighting has already had a huge impact in lowering energy consumption and emissions in the commercial building sector. Wind energy is growing rapidly and is another bright spot in our economy with wind jobs increasing 20% in 2015. We are seeing a similar growth in efficient equipment, appliances, and products, which gives us competitiveness in international markets. U.S. manufacturers of building products throughout the world are reducing their carbon footprint, and have committed to achieving, or are already meeting, the goal of zero carbon.

The potential to implement change and accelerate progress firmly rests with architects, planners, and our colleagues in the building and renewable energy sectors and local governments; that’s as true today as it was before the election.

As Margaret Mead famously stated, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Our ‘small group’ of thoughtful citizens and professionals grows daily, as does our power to achieve our goals.

Now is the time to harness this power and redouble our efforts from the bottom up.

— Architecture 2030

This article also appears on Common Edge.
Image designed by Demetra Mazria.

China: Towards a Zero Carbon Built Environment

n late October, an historic two-day forum and workshop event was held in Wuhan, China. Organized by the China Exploration & Design Association Architecture Branch (CEDAAB) and Architecture 2030, this event established Zero Net Carbon (ZNC) as a necessary and achievable goal for buildings and developments.

Architecture 2030 to Host International Zero Net Carbon Conference in China

Architecture 2030 and CEDAAB are hosting an important international conference on China’s move towards a Zero Net Carbon built environment, Oct 27th in Wuhan, China

On September 3, 2016 China ratified the historic Paris Agreement on climate change and committed to taking a global leadership role in addressing this crisis. President Xi Jinping vowed to “unwaveringly pursue sustainable development” in China and stated “Our response to climate change bears on the future of our people and the well-being of mankind”.

China is currently urbanizing at a rate unmatched in human history. Over the next few decades, China will build 1.5-2.5 billion sqm new buildings annually as China’s urban population grows by about 350 million people. Today, buildings account for about 30% of China’s greenhouse gas emissions, but this is projected to increase rapidly as more people move into cities to find work.

To meet the commitment of Paris agreement, this conference will establish that Zero Net Carbon (ZNC) building design is essential and achievable for dramatically reducing GHG emissions in the building sector. Top practitioners will present the transformative principles and practices that make ZNC buildings possible.


  • China’s policies and commitment to a low/zero carbon built environment by the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development / China Green Building Council
  • The Six Principles for Zero Net Carbon Design by Ed Mazria, Architecture 2030
  • Guidelines, strategies, tools, and resources to support low carbon design by Carl Elefante, AIA President-Elect
  • International and Chinese project case studies in urban planning, residential and community design, and commercial and institutional projects by SOM, ZGF, NBBJ, Perkins+Will, DLR and more
  • Future collaboration and actions

Other speakers include Chen Zhen, Secretary-General of CEDAAB, and Stanley Yip from Peking University’s Center of Urban Planning and Design.


For additional information on forum registration and sponsorship opportunities, please email

You can download the Forum brochure: in English | in Chinese


Ticket price: US$ 270 (1800 RMB). Prices include lunch and dinner.


Register and Pay with Wire Transfer:

From within China, in RMB. Please scan QR code on the right to register on mobile or send your information (company, title, mobile) to
Payment information will be sent to your email after registration


Wuhan image used under Creative Commons License

The New Standard: Zero Carbon

Representatives from ten Green Building Councils (GBCs) worldwide – Canada, Germany, United States, China, India, South Africa, Australia, Brazil, The Netherlands and Sweden – together with the World Green Building Council (WGBC) and lead partner Architecture 2030, met in New York City last week for a 3-day workshop to define a common approach towards creating net zero certification pathways.

“It’s extremely important that GBCs worldwide align their net zero building certifications with the global emissions reductions goals established by the international community in the climate agreement reached in Paris last December.”

Edward Mazria, Founder and CEO, Architecture 2030

At COP21 in Paris, nearly 200 countries forged an unprecedented agreement to phase out fossil fuel CO2 emissions from the built environment by mid-century.  In a rapidly urbanizing world, plans to meet this commitment must focus on urban development and building design to meet zero emissions performance standards. Adding Zero Net Carbon (ZNC) certifications sends a strong signal to the global marketplace and establishes ZNC as standard practice for all new construction and major renovations by 2030.

Two key long-term goals were agreed at the Advancing Net Zero workshop:

  • All new buildings and major renovations are built to a ZNC standard starting in 2030, and
  • 100% of buildings achieve zero emissions by 2050

The ten national GBCs present at the three-day workshop are taking the lead in meeting these goals as they represent countries with some of the highest projected growth in construction over the next three decades.  Certification pathways developed by this group are also intended to lead the way for other GBCs to follow.



Zero Net Carbon Definition

A priority for the workshop attendees was to establish a shared definition for net zero that would form a basis for their certification pathways. Architecture 2030 led the discussion by putting forward the ZNC definition they developed in collaboration with Rocky Mountain Institute and New Buildings Institute.

A ZNC building is defined as:

a highly energy efficient building that produces on-site, or procures, enough carbon-free renewable energy to meet building operations energy consumption annually.

Positive Outcomes

The GBCs committed to align their ZNC definitions and programs to achieve a common carbon goal, one that will drive significant momentum in shifting industry and regulation towards substantial greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions.

Other fundamental principles agreed by the national GBCs include transparency over how the proposed ZNC pathways are to be used to drive improvement in the building sector. Importantly, all the GBC representatives also championed a level of energy efficiency in their planned certifications, and their initial plans include consideration of a combination of on-site and off-site renewable energy, and in some cases, offsets.

Each participating GBC pledged to adopt a ZNC definition and certification program as soon as possible, with a goal of having those in place by the end of 2017. Each GBC is also committed to developing training materials and educational resources.

The workshop also provided a valuable opportunity for the GBCs to collaborate on approaches and offer each other insight on how to accelerate development of their ZNC programs.

“This commitment lays the foundation by creating common guidelines for each of the parties to follow. The GBCs are leading an important effort towards meeting the Paris Agreement by setting a unique path to successfully address the climate crisis.”

Andrew Lee, Program Manager, Architecture 2030

You can learn more about the workshop in our blog post for the WGBC here.

Flag images from Freepik

Advancing Net Zero Worldwide

Green Building Councils Worldwide to Develop Net Zero Certifications

Architecture 2030 joins WorldGBC as the lead partner in a new project – Advancing Net Zero – to deliver “net zero” building energy or greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) certification pathways across Green Building Councils (GBCs) worldwide. At least eight GBCs will initially take part in the project, including: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, Netherlands, South Africa, and Sweden, with additional GBCs to follow.

In his keynote at COP21 Buildings Day, Ed Mazria called for GBCs worldwide to commit to develop net zero certification as a critical catalyst for transitioning the building sector towards zero net emissions.

The WorldGBC and its 74 Green Building Councils (representing 27,000 member companies) responded with a bold commitment to reduce CO2 emissions from the building sector by 84 gigatons by 2050, through net zero buildings and deep renovation.

Under this new project, WorldGBC and Architecture 2030 will work directly with participating GBCs to transform these commitments into actions. GBCs will be guided through the adoption of common definitions for net zero and the development of action plans to accelerate the launch of national net zero certification programs (as stand-alone programs or extension of existing rating systems). In addition, each participating GBC will create net zero training programs for their building professional community and support the development of net zero demonstration projects for each market.

This collaboration marks a critical inception point that will align disparate efforts across the industry and set the stage for global adoption of net zero standards.

The term “net zero” refers to buildings, which are either net zero energy or net zero emissions, reflecting a balance of energy efficiency with clean energy resources on an annual basis. Researchers estimate that there are currently hundreds of net zero commercial buildings and thousands of net zero homes around the world. The Advancing Net Zero project is aimed at tipping the global market to rapidly adopt net zero and establish it as standard practice for all new construction by 2030.

For more information about the project, read the WorldGBC announcement here.


Photo by Maria Eklind Creative Commons Licensed

Paris to World: an End to the Fossil Fuel Era

Last week, the world came together in Paris for the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), and signed a historic agreement.  At the heart of the Paris Agreement is the “long-term goal” committing almost 200 countries – including the U.S., China, India, and the EU nations – to keep the global average temperature increase to “well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C.”

To meet this target, the world must reach zero fossil fuel CO2 emissions in the urban built environment by about 2050, and zero total global greenhouse gas emissions by 2060 to 2080.

What’s in the Agreement

The agreement commits all countries to “aim to reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible . . . and to undertake rapid reductions thereafter”. It includes 188 national government submissions – Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) – containing the actions each country intends to take to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

These initial INDCs admittedly do not go far enough to meet the 1.5°C target, but each country is required to renew its pledge with increasingly stringent targets every five years. The current U.S. INDC pledge is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 26% to 28% below 2005 levels by 2025.

But most importantly, the impact of the agreement is clear – governments have signaled an end to the fossil fuel era by committing for the first time to cut GHG emissions and avoid the most egregious impacts of climate change.

The Agreement and the Built Environment

Another historic event at COP21 was the first ever UNFCCC Buildings Day – an entire day devoted to the building sector in recognition of the important role it must play in ensuring that countries meet their emissions reduction obligations.


Ed Mazria presenting the China Accord at the UNFCCC COP21 Buildings Day

Architecture 2030 helped organize Buildings Day, and Ed Mazria, Architecture 2030 Founder and CEO, delivered the opening presentation titled “Road to Zero”, which successfully set the tone for the remainder of the day. Referencing Architecture 2030’s submission to the UNFCCC – the Roadmap to Zero Emissions: The Built Environment in a Global Transformation to Zero Emissions report – he demonstrated how a combination of reducing the built environment’s demand for fossil fuel energy while increasing the world’s supply of renewable energy sources will meet the Paris Agreement’s long-term 1.5°C goal.

In addition, Mazria presented the China Accord for the first time to the UNFCCC and the international audience in attendance, illustrating how the architecture, planning, and building design community in China will play a key role in making the agreement’s targets a reality.

Chen Zhen, Secretary General of CEDAAB (left) and Leon Qiu, Vice Secretary General of CEDAAB and Principal at DLR Group

Chen Zhen, Secretary General of CEDAAB (left) and Leon Qiu, Vice Secretary General of CEDAAB and Principal at DLR Group

The Accord is a commitment by 52 key Chinese and international architecture and planning firms to plan and design cities, towns, developments, and buildings in China to low carbon/carbon neutral standards.  

Chen Zhen, Secretary General of the China Exploration & Design Association – Architecture Branch (CEDAAB), also delivered a speech at the opening of Buildings Day on the importance of international collaboration and China’s commitment to low carbon development. According to Zhen,

“The China Accord is a manifestation of the determination and moral obligations of planners and architects both in China and internationally, that we are taking huge strides to reduce carbon emissions and move towards zero carbon.”

At COP21, bold actions such as the China Accord underlined the importance of cities and the built environment in combatting climate change, giving nations the confidence to take dramatic steps in Paris.

Cities consume nearly 75% of global energy production and are responsible for a similar percentage of global GHG emission. Tokyo, for example, is responsible for the same amount of GHG emissions as the 37 least polluting African countries. 

Architecture 2030's representatives at COP21: Panama Bartholomy, EU Lead, and Yaki Wo, Asia Lead

Architecture 2030’s representatives at COP21: Panama Bartholomy, EU Lead, and Yaki Wo,
Asia Lead

COP21 is also the first time that cities have had their voices fully recognized at a global UN conference on climate change, and the first time over 1,000 city and regional officials gathered to demand bold action.

436 cities have signed the Compact of Mayors pledging to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and track their progress.

These include 117 U.S. cities, with total average U.S. city pledges at 68% GHG emissions reductions below their current levels by 2050.

In addition to the China Accord and the local government pledges, many other initiatives were announced during COP21, including:

  • 123 jurisdictions (states, provinces, regions, and cities) collectively representing more than 720 million people and $19.9 trillion in combined GDP, equivalent to more than a quarter of the global economy, joined the Under 2 MOU agreement, pledging to limit emissions to 80% to 95% below 1990 levels, or below 2 metric tons per capita, by 2050.
  • Over 100 banks, managing a total of $4 trillion in assets, called for a doubling of building energy efficiency by 2030.
  • Over 150 US companies committed to reduce energy use in their facilities by 50%.
  • The Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction, a global private-public alliance was established to foster closer collaboration and new partnerships in the buildings sector.
  • The World Green Building Council (WGBC) announced that GBCs in Canada, Australia, and South Africa are developing Carbon Neutral building certifications, signaling that this is where the market is headed. The WGBC and Architecture 2030 are planning to collaborate to help develop the certification and then to expand it into other global markets.

2016 and Beyond

The Paris Agreement introduces a new world, one that envisions an end to fossil fuel emissions and secures a strong mechanism to address climate change.

As Architecture 2030’s senior consultant Farhana Yamin (also CEO of Track 0 and advisor to the Marshall Islands) put it:

“There is a huge way to go, but there are already people out there working on envisioning what a Zero by 2050 world looks like.”

So open your champagne bottles, and toast the promise of not just another New Year, but also a new era of international collaboration in creating a sustainable, resilient, and highly livable planet.

Buildings Day at the COP21 UN Climate Change Conference

Today marked the first time ever at UN climate change conferences that a day was devoted specifically to the building sector.

As an ‘initiating organization’ of Buildings Day (along with other groups including the French government and the United Nations Environment Programme), Architecture 2030 helped plan the agenda for the day, and Architecture 2030 Founder Edward Mazria delivered a key message with an opening presentation titled “The 2 Degree Path for the Building Sector”. Read more about it:

First Ever Buildings Day: Green Buildings Scale Up,” Eco-Business

UN Climate Change Conference Discusses the Building Sector’s Environmental Impact,” Architect Magazine

Building Efficiency Finally Gets Its Day in the Sun at COP 21,” World Resources Institute