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LEED v.4 and EPDs

Great American Cities Going 2030

Pittsburgh Joins Cleveland and Seattle, Launches a 2030 District

2030 Districts are forming in great American cities to meet the energy, water and transportation emissions reduction targets called for by Architecture 2030 in the 2030 Challenge for Planning. This week, Pittsburgh joined Cleveland and Seattle by launching a Pittsburgh 2030 District. Pittsburgh, a city transitioning from an industrial past to a lively, low-carbon metropolis, will become part of an emerging 2030 District network.

The announcement of a collaborative effort creating a Pittsburgh 2030 District, containing 61 properties and over 23 million square feet in the downtown area, is the most recent effort in this city’s evolution.

“Launching a 2030 District in Pittsburgh helps to reinforce what this city has been working towards for a long time. Pittsburgh has been building a reputation as a healthy, vibrant city with many sustainability initiatives, and this 2030 District takes things to the next level. The fact that we already have so many businesses committed to this challenge shows that Pittsburghers want to build a better city, and they’re ready to take the next step.” Mike Schiller, CEO Green Building Alliance

Architecture 2030’s Edward Mazria will deliver a lecture titled “The Next Built Environment, Today” on Monday, September 10th at 4:30pm at Carnegie Mellon University. The lecture is part of Pittsburgh 2030 District launch activities hosted by the Green Building Alliance (GBA). The GBA, a community benefit organization founded in 1993 and headquartered in Pittsburgh, is leading the Pittsburgh 2030 District initiative.

Origin of the 2030 Districts

First established in Seattle, 2030 Districts are unique “private/public” partnerships driving a national grassroots movement to create durable coalitions focused on creating and maintaining sustainable and resilient urban growth.

“The 2030 District model is a private sector sustainability initiative for urban development that sets feasible, long-term targets. As municipalities continue to struggle with financial challenges, this is an exciting, robust new model for our time.” Brian Geller, Founder and Executive Director Seattle 2030 District

The 2030 District model brings property owners and managers together with local governments, businesses, architects and planners, and community stakeholders to provide a business model for urban sustainability. Together, this group adopts measurement tools and implements strategies and best practices to meet the 2030 Challenge reduction targets. Leveraged financing, shared financial resources and incentives allow Districts to realize their vibrant urban development and renovation plans without undue delay.

Cleveland Builds Momentum

Cleveland Ranked 14th Best City for Public Transportation. Cleveland RTA Rapid Transit (generally known as The Rapid)

Recently, Edward Mazria and Brian Geller joined 250 community members at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History to celebrate the Cleveland 2030 District launch. The Cleveland 2030 District originated in a Sustainable Cleveland 2019 working group, an initiative that engages citizens in designing and developing a thriving self-sustaining greater Cleveland region, leveraging assets to achieve an economic strength, social stability and environmental beauty that will enhance the quality of life for all its residents.

“Since moving to Cleveland five years ago from Cincinnati (Cleveland’s ‘other’ rival city in addition to Pittsburgh), I’ve been very pleasantly surprised by its major cultural institutions, wonderful locally-owned restaurants, diverse population, and most relevant to my career, the implementation of various sustainability initiatives by the City, its residents and businesses throughout the greater Cleveland area. The Cleveland 2030 District’s work can lead to additional benefits including regional economic development, increased investment in the downtown core, and visibility as a national leader in energy-efficient and environmentally responsible building practices.” Kemp Jaycox, Program Manager Cleveland 2030 District

Next steps for the Cleveland 2030 District, established in May 2012, include implementing its strategic plan, hiring full-time staff, engaging new property owners and stakeholders, and creating a database to track and display building and District performance.

U.S. Coal Consumption in Decline

In May 2012, the New York Times reported that “Coal and electric utilities, long allied, are starting to split. More than 100 of the 500 or so U.S. coal-burning power plants are expected to be shut down in the next few years. While coal still provides about a third of the nation’s power, just four years ago it was providing nearly half.” According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) there was a nationwide decrease of 22.8% in net electricity generation from coal between April 2011 and April 2012. The reasons given in the press for the decline of U.S. coal consumption include new pollution rules, fuel switching, and environmental pressure.

The unstated, yet requisite, driver of this trend is the dramatically declining demand for energy in the Building Sector due to slower growth in the U.S. building stock and increases in building energy efficiency.

Just Released: U.S. Annual Energy Outlook (AEO) 2012

The Annual Energy Outlook 2012 (AEO 2012), prepared by the EIA, presents long-term projections of energy demand based on results from EIA’s National Energy Modeling System. AEO 2012 concludes “The rate of growth in energy use slows over the projection period, reflecting moderate population growth, an extended economic recovery, and increasing energy efficiency in end-use applications.” Visualizing AEO Building Sector data in a graphic format clearly illustrates the key drivers of the recent trend in U.S. energy infrastructure planning.

According to AEO 2012, if the ‘best available demand technologies*’ are incorporated, the projected energy consumption for residential and commercial buildings in 2030 is expected to drop 12% below 2005 levels; CO2 emissions are expected to drop 21.8% below 2005 levels.

AEO projections do not include sustainable planning applications or incorporate passive heating and cooling, natural ventilation, daylighting, or spatial configuration and site design strategies. With the growing number of architects and planners incorporating these strategies to meet the 2030 Challenge targets, actual energy consumption and emissions in the Building Sector will drop substantially lower.

All of this is particularly good news because the alternative of continuing coal use is rather dire. To quote from a previous E-News Bulletin:

“The only practical way to preserve a planet resembling that of the Holocene [i.e. the world as we know it],…is to rapidly phase out coal emissions…”

Note: Seventy-six (76%) percent of all electricity produced in the U.S. is consumed by buildings.

* Best available demand technologies – new equipment purchases are limited to the most efficient versions of technologies available in the residential and commercial buildings sectors.

Access, Info, and Transparency: 2030’s Technology Round-Up

Architecture 2030 is working with industry leaders and online technology innovators to provide extraordinary new resources for meeting the 2030 Challenges.

Green Wizard: Paving the Way to Carbon Neutral

Architecture 2030 has joined forces with the design and construction industry’s go-to-source for sustainable building products to greatly simplify finding and specifying materials that meet the 2030 Challenge for Products.

GreenWizard, a technology leader and market influencer with over $10 billion in project purchasing power, is integrating the Products Challenge into their cloud-based project management platform, making the carbon footprint results of Environmental Product Declarations and Life Cycle Assessments freely searchable and accessible online.

Concrete, which is the leading contributor of greenhouse gases among building products will soon become the first material incorporated into the GreenWizard tool. Expect additional updates as this feature continues to grow.

Lucid: The Future of Tracking Performance Has Arrived

Though an unprecedented voluntary effort to make energy, water, and transportation data for commercial buildings available to the public, the Seattle 2030 District, in partnership with Lucid Design Group, is now openly tracking its progress towards meeting the 2030 Challenge for Planning online.

Lucid is the pioneer of real-time feedback technology for buildings. Their Building Dashboard® platform – touted as “the first social network for buildings” – is used by the world’s leading companies, organizations and institutions to better understand their energy and water use and, through sharing and collaboration (and a little friendly competition), spur creative solutions for curbing consumption.

The Seattle 2030 District Dashboard, monitors the entire Seattle 2030 District as well as individual buildings. The tool is furthered enhanced by VehicleRunner, a transportation footprint solution developed by the Seattle-based software firm, Frontrunner, to gauge vehicle emissions from occupant commuters.

Honest Buildings: Plugging into the Real Estate Mainframe

Comprehensive data for over 1,000 buildings within the Seattle 2030 District, including 83 member properties, representing 20 million square feet of commercial space, are now featured on the rapidly growing real estate network, Honest Buildings.

This comes as Honest Buildings announced that it was releasing detailed profiles on 32,000 commercial and mixed-use buildings in the Emerald City. Since launching just three months ago, the startup sensation has amassed and released information on 450,000 U.S. properties, including images, typology, ownership, management, square footage, LEED certifications, ENERGYSTAR ratings, and more.

“This partnership provides a powerful catalyst towards our efforts,” said Brian Geller, Executive Director of the Seattle 2030 District. “Honest Buildings is an ideal platform for our professional stakeholders to showcase their work and illustrate how they are helping District members to meet our ambitious energy, water, and transportation emissions reduction goals.

Explore the Seattle 2030 District at

AIA+2030: Connecting With the Nation’s Zero-Carbon Experts

In just a few years, the AIA+2030 Professional Education Series has reached over 1,000 architects and engineers in 22 cities across the U.S. – providing real-world training and expertise on meeting the 2030 Challenge. This is just the beginning; AIA+2030 is in high demand.

Now, Architecture 2030 has embarked on a campaign with the Society of Building Science Educators (SBSE) to expand the Series directory of preeminent experts in carbon-neutral and zero-net-energy design.

To add your name to the list of potential AIA+2030 educators, click here.

Fossil Fuel Fairy Tale

“The Better to See You With, My Dear”
and other fairy tales from the American Gas Association

Everyone has heard the classic fairy tale of “Little Red Riding Hood” and the deceitful, greedy Old Wolf who has eaten the grandmother and now has his eyes on Little Red. It has been told to generations of school children.

To us, the story is simple: beware of those who will tell you anything to further their own interests.

In the most recent rendition of this fable, the American Gas Association (AGA) and Federal Performance Contracting Coalition (FPCC) seem to have swallowed up a Congressional Committee and now have their eyes on both Federal agencies and the U.S. taxpayer.

Under attack is Section 433 of the Energy Independence and Security Act, which was signed by President Bush in 2007 to require that all new Federal buildings, and major renovations of Federal buildings of at least $2.5 million, meet a fossil fuel-generated energy consumption reduction of 55% in 2010, 65% in 2015, 80% in 2020, 90% in 2025, and 100% in 2030.

The fairy tale is an Issue Brief titled “Fossil Fuel Elimination Rule”, which was prepared and distributed at a White House meeting by the AGA and FPCC.

The brief, which asks Congress to “substantially modify or eliminate” Section 433, is intentionally misleading.

The AGA and FPCC want us to believe that there is no “long term path to compliance” to phase out the use of fossil fuels in new Federal buildings and major renovations by 2030. They argue that many Federal agencies “do not have the ability to comply with the fossil fuel generated energy reduction mandate and therefore will not renovate,” resulting in higher energy bills for the Federal government and the American taxpayer.

These spurious claims prey on the recessionary fears of the American public. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), 76% of the 51,000 non-residential Federal buildings are one-story; 95.7% are three stories and under. The Federal government also owns over 400,000 one and two-story housing structures. These building types are easily renovated to meet the reduction targets set in Sec. 433.

In fact, there are numerous low-cost solutions for dramatically reducing energy consumption in single story and low-rise buildings: daylighting and ventilation strategies, natural heating and cooling systems, and high-performance products, fixtures, and equipment, to name just a few.

These buildings also have large roof areas capable of accommodating cost-effective, off-the-shelf renewable energy and electric generation technologies and systems. More advanced on-site energy production and storage technologies developed over the next 18 years can be accommodated as well. Section 433 insures that Federal buildings will continually improve in efficiency – saving both the Federal government and American taxpayer precious dollars over the 60-year average lifetime of a building.

Of course, the Federal government can also purchase renewable energy to meet part of its mandated fossil fuel reduction target directly from electricity suppliers (DOE final rule will likely include Power Purchase Agreements). Today, over 50% of electricity consumers in the United States have the option of purchasing renewable energy generated electricity. Over the next 18 years, advancements in the grid and renewable energy technology will likely make this option even more widely available and cost-effective.

The brief also states that Section 433 “would halt the pursuit of increased use of natural gas.”

Federal government buildings comprise less that 1% of total U.S. building stock, of which only a small portion is renovated each year. To suggest that this would affect the use of natural gas in the U.S., staggers the imagination.

And finally, the brief gives five “examples of projects that would be hindered by the rule” – four very large power plant projects and one 355,000 square foot, eleven story building – implying that many or most renovation projects would not be possible, or go forward, under Sec. 433.

The point is moot. Sec. 433 contains a provision for obtaining a waiver if the “requirement would be technically impracticable,” i.e. impossible to carry out.

Even so, the only building example cited in the brief is not a typical government building project or renovation. Less than 1% of Federal commercial buildings are 10 stories or more, most are only one story. Also, the assumption made that, in the next 13 to 18 years, only a maximum 30% electricity consumption reduction will be possible is unsound; especially with ongoing advancements in LED lighting, high-tech and energy generating window coatings, high performance equipment and electronics, nanotechnology, and site renewable energy generation and storage.

It is indeed unfortunate that the American Gas Association and the Federal Performance Contracting Coalition are putting their own interests before that of our country, especially during these tough economic times.

In our favorite ending to the classic tale of Little Red, the kind woodcutter rushes to her rescue just before she ends up in the belly of the Old Wolf, tricked by his lies.

This is exactly how we want this fairy tale to end.

Less Carbon, More Love for the Planet With the 2030 Challenge for Products

Last Valentine’s Day, Architecture 2030 sent out a Valentine to the Planet, unveiling a new challenge focused on lowering the embodied energy and greenhouse gases of building products. Over the past year, the Building Sector has demonstrated its solid support for the 2030 Challenge for Products and has been instrumental in addressing the issues of embodied carbon on an ever greater scale.

2012 kicks off with a few exciting announcements – and promises to be another big year for the 2030 Challenge for Products.

InterfaceFLOR Commits to the Challenge

Sustainability giant, InterfaceFLOR has chalked up another first, continuing its legacy of leadership in the contract furnishings industry by being the first product manufacturer to adopt the 2030 Challenge for Products. InterfaceFLOR has accepted Architecture 2030’s goal to dramatically reduce the embodied emissions of its flooring products and is well on its way to meeting the reduction targets outlined by the 2030 Challenge for Products.

InterfaceFLOR has also committed to high-level transparency, Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for its products, and is working towards its own declaration, Mission Zero®. The company intends to be oil-free in the manufacture of its flooring products and achieve zero environmental impact by 2020.

Read the Press release here.
Access EPDs from InterfaceFLOR here.

Concrete Product Category Rules Set for Release

At 3PM PST today, the first U.S. Product Category Rules (PCRs) for Concrete will be released for public comment by the Carbon Leadership Forum. Written to meet the targets of the 2030 Challenge for Products, these PCRs will provide the methodology for calculating the carbon footprint (i.e. the global warming potential) of concrete. Proposed CSI numbers: 03 03X XX (Cast in Place Concrete), 03 4X XX (Precast Concrete), and 03 070 00 (Mass Concrete).

Learn more about the Draft Concrete PCR here.

Looking Back on a Great First Year

ECO-STRUCTURE editor, Katie Weeks, sits down with the Director of the 2030 Challenge for Products, Francesca Desmarais, to discuss the Challenge, its impetus, the past year, and the future of the initiative.

Read the article here.

Everything You Wanted to Know…
Where to Learn More About the 2030 Challenge for Products

Products FAQ

Questions about the 2030 Challenge for Products? Check out the FAQ section, assembled with insight from leading experts in the fields of LCA and EPDs here.

Critical Points

The Critical Points document is a quick primer on the key points of the Products Challenge – everything you need to know about the 2030 Challenge for Products. Download the pdf here.

Request for Information (RFI)

As a professional who specifies products, let your product manufactures know that you are concerned about the embodied carbon of their product. Send them an RFI to learn more about their product’s carbon content, while also encouraging carbon reporting and transparency here.

BuildingGreen Information Hub

Looking for background on the issues, critical reading or additional resources? Check out the BuildingGreen Information Hub for the 2030 Challenge for Products here.

Concrete Product Category Rules Set for Release

The first U.S. Product Category Rules (PCRs) for Concrete have been released for public comment by the Carbon Leadership Forum. Written to meet the targets of the 2030 Challenge for Products, these PCRs provide the methodology for calculating the carbon footprint (i.e. the global warming potential) of concrete.


Researchers from the University of Washington’s College of Built Environment’s Carbon Leadership Forum (CLF) have worked with a diverse stakeholder committee to develop standards (Product Category Rules/PCRs) to track and report the environmental footprint of concrete. Use of these standards will enable producers to report the ‘environmental footprint’ (Environmental Product Declaration/EPD) of different concrete mixes and enable architects and engineers to specify low impact concrete. The standard is now posted for stakeholder input and available at the CLF PCR Website. Comments from engineers, architects, material manufactures and concrete suppliers as well as life cycle assessment and environmental scientists are sought.

The standard is expected to help people in the building industry meet the 2030 Challenge for Products. Launched a year ago today, the challenge calls for dramatically reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions related to the manufacture and transportation of construction products. Building industry specific PCRs, like the concrete standard released today, as well as industry benchmarks are key to advancing the goals of the 2030 Challenge for Products.

Read the full press release here.