Ed Mazria talks to TreeHugger Radio

Edward Mazria talks to TreeHugger Radio about the 2030 Challenge.

Senate Committee Calls on Edward Mazria to Testify on Building Energy Efficiency

On February 26, 2009 Edward Mazria was called before the United States Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources to give expert testimony on reducing energy consumption in buildings.

Following his appearance at the full committee hearing, Mr. Mazria responded to a list of questions for the record from U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA). Mazria’s responses to these questions, with additional written testimony evaluating the NAIOP study, “Achieving 30% and 50% over ASHRAE 90.1-2004 in a Low-Rise Office Building”, are provided below.

To download the Companion Guide, with illustrations referred to in Mr. Mazria’s testimony, click here.

For the addendum graph with historic and projected U.S. CO2 emissions by sector, click here.

JUMP TO:

Questions from U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)

1. Market Forces and Energy Efficiency
2. Government vs. Non-Government Efficiency Programs
3. Applying Stimulus Funds to Energy Reductions
4. Delays in Goverment Funding Distribution
5. Success of the 2030 Challenge
6. Management and Oversight of The Two-Year, Nine-Million-Jobs Investment Plan
7. Other Green Mortgage Products
8. Obstacles to Achieving Zero Net Energy Performance

Questions from U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA)

1. Addressing Green Roof and Cool Roof Strategies
2. Energy Savings Potential of Green Roofs
3. Green Roof Deployment in the Federal Building Sector

Additional Testimony:

Evaluation of NAIOP Study, “Achieving 30% and 50% over ASHRAE 90.1-2004
in a Low-Rise Office Building”

 

Questions from U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)

1. What are some examples where the market has moved energy efficiency in the right direction regardless of government mandates?

Unfortunately, without government mandates, the market moves the Building Sector towards increased energy efficiency slowly, escalating development only when the country enters a recession and/or the price of energy increases dramatically. This can be seen clearly in the graph on Page #2 of my testimony. The drop in Building Sector energy consumption is most apparent with the spike in oil prices that began with the 1973 Arab oil embargo and continued through the short recession that followed, and during the early 1980’s recession when oil reached the equivalent of $103.76 barrel (today’s dollars) following the 1979 Iranian Revolution.After the crisis ended, lighting and energy management technologies that were initiated during this period continued to develop, albeit slowly, due in part to state initiatives and mandates. For example, lighting technology continued to improve with the introduction of higher efficiency lamps (T-8, T-5, and compact fluorescent bulbs) and electronic ballasts. Several states (California, for example) adopted stricter energy codes for commercial buildings that were partly responsible for the development of markets for these more-efficient lighting products. Over time, these advances in energy-efficient technology were adopted more widely by the Building Sector. But government programs were instrumental in promoting the early use of these advances and creating markets so the costs for these products could be reduced.

2. The federal and state governments have been engaged in several standardized programs to promote energy efficiency in the last few decades. It is also true that there have been advances in energy efficient technology without the government playing a role. Please describe the pros and cons of these two approaches.

Relatively little has been accomplished in building sector energy efficiency over the past few decades, so it is difficult to single out the pros and cons of each approach. The two approaches seem to only work well when they work in tandem. For example, when fossil fuel prices increase dramatically, business and industry look to innovate and deliver alternatives to the marketplace, while governments deliver market incentives, new building codes, and fund R&D and technology transfer through universities, research institutions and national laboratories.This was evident during the energy crisis of the 1970’s and early 1980’s. At that time, there were major advances in Building Sector technologies – in glazing materials (heat mirror and low-e coatings), passive and active solar energy systems design and applications, passive and active cooling applications, natural ventilation systems, phase-change materials, moveable insulation, building simulation modeling programs, daylighting systems and controls, energy management systems, night set-back thermostats and occupancy sensors, solar hot water heating, solar thermal electric generation and storage, photovoltaics and advances in low-energy lighting systems, to name just a few. While some of these technologies continued to advance slowly over the past twenty-four years, relatively little has happened in developing innovative new energy efficiency and building energy technologies and systems. The energy intensity of commercial buildings has changed little over this period (total energy use per square foot increased), while a decrease in the energy intensity of housing was offset by an increase in housing size.

Government programs also play a critical role in advancing building sector technologies due to the relationship between construction costs and energy costs. For many commercial or leased building projects, capital costs for construction and operating costs for energy use are budgeted and paid for from different accounts. The project owner pays for the building design and construction, while the tenants pay for the resulting operating costs for energy and resource use. In this fiscal environment, government programs (state energy codes and tax credits, for example) have been very important in advancing the adoption and promoting the improvement of cost-effective, energy-efficient technologies.

The situation we find ourselves in today, with three major crises converging at the same time – foreign energy dependence, climate change and a deep economic recession – is very different from anything we have ever experienced before. I believe both approaches to the Building Sector, which is at the center of all three crises, must play a critical role if we are to successfully meet these challenges.


3. The recent stimulus bill directs billions to energy efficiency measures. How can these funds be targeted to be most effective?

I have carefully read through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act 2009, specifically to analyze the bill’s requirements on energy efficiency. I find that only in some cases are there requirements, and that the few programs with requirements are somewhat vague. There are no benchmarks or energy reduction targets (which are essential to attaining real and significant reductions) mentioned in the bill.What this means is that many of the building projects put forward in response to the bill will have minimal energy reduction strategies, and as a result, minimal energy reductions.

The following language, if included in the energy bill, would help to prioritize projects and serve as a guideline for projects submitted for grants. While the language does not prohibit any projects from going forward, it makes clear that projects will be competing for funds and meeting specific energy reduction targets will be a priority consideration in the judgment criteria.

This language also sets the benchmark based on i) CBECS and RECS for federal and federally-owned buildings as called for in the Energy Independence and Security Act 2007, and ii) ASHRAE and IECC for other buildings. In addition, it also allows the Secretary of Energy to set other benchmarks and reduction targets, since there are states that have their own codes with specific criteria.

The following language would send a strong message to the building community that significant energy reductions are important, and that the federal government will lead the way:

A. That any new and renovated federal buildings receiving stimulus money be required to meet the 2010 energy reduction standard set by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Funding preference will be given to projects that achieve overall energy savings compared to the Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey 2003 for commercial buildings and Residential Energy Consumption Survey 2005 (RECS) for residential buildings (or other comparable codes, standards or measurement protocols authorized by the Secretary of Energy) of, in the following order of priority—(1) carbon neutral, (2) 85 percent, (3) 70 percent, (4) 55 percent.B. For any new building construction or renovation project grants made with stimulus money by state and local governments, preference shall be given to projects that achieve overall energy savings compared to ASHRAE 90.1-2004 for commercial buildings and IECC 2006 for residential buildings (or other comparable codes, standards or measurement protocols authorized by the Secretary of Energy) of, in the following order of priority—(1) 75 percent to carbon neutral, (2) 50 percent, (3) 30 percent.


4. Also, as you know, $3.1 billion of energy efficiency block grants came with preconditions, namely energy efficiency rulemaking measures and updating building codes. Are you concerned with the inevitable delay in getting the energy efficiency funding out to states and localities?

The answer to this question is multifaceted and requires some explanation.Since professional architects and engineers design most commercial and public buildings and large-scale housing developments, it is instructive to look at A/E firm billings to project future Building Sector construction activity. It takes 6 months to a year or two to design and prepare construction documents for a building project, a few months for bidding, a month or two for contract negotiations and another month or two for construction start up. Billings for housing began to decline sharply at the end of 2007, followed by a decline in commercial and industrial project billings in early 2008. It was not until August of 2008 that we began to see a decline in public building project billings. At the end of 2008, while construction in housing and commercial buildings were in steep decline, construction in the public sector was steady with school construction up 6% and government building construction up 6% (Page 14 of my testimony).

Most of the stimulus money and energy efficiency block grants for buildings are slated for the public building sector. Projects that have been designed but shelved for lack of tax dollars will be pulled off the shelf as shovel ready. Other projects will begin the design process taking advantage of efficiency block grant monies. As a result, the public building sector should continue on without a construction downturn for another few years.

While I do not foresee a delay in using the efficiency block grant money, the anticipated building energy consumption reductions will fall short unless the actions recommended in answer #3 above are implemented.


5. In the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act, Congress authorized an initiative for the development and establishment of zero net energy commercial buildings which applies to any commercial building newly constructed in the United States by 2030 as well as 50% of the commercial building stock of the United states by 2040. Groups such as the American Institute of Architects (AIA) have endorsed an immediate 50% reduction in fossil fuel-generated energy and a 10% reduction target every five years until new and renovated buildings achieve carbon neutrality in 2030.

Have we made any progress on these initiatives?

Yes, interest in the 2030 Challenge energy reduction targets has increased significantly since we issued the 2030 Challenge in January of 2006. Many state and local governments, professional organizations, A/E firms and institutions have adopted the targets and have begun to implement them, and many more would like to do so. However, without clear and sustained leadership and support from the federal government, these efforts will not be enough. Specifically, we will not see any significant reductions in the rate of increase in building sector energy consumption, let alone a decline, until the National Model Building Energy Code Standards are updated as indicated on Pages 12 and 13 of my testimony.My emphasis on performance standards is deliberate. By setting performance rather than prescriptive standards, Congress will not be picking energy and efficiency technology winners and losers. The marketplace, individual practitioners and building owners will determine the most cost-effective strategies that meet the performance standards. Many new strategies and technologies will emerge (and existing ones will re-emerge) to meet the particular conditions of various climatic regions and economic conditions. Performance standards bring out the best in our competitive and entrepreneurial spirit and create a level playing field for all technologies.

For this approach to be most effective, performance standards and ‘reach codes’ must preempt federal minimum appliance standards to insure the emergence of new technologies, systems and design practices.

Also, I would ask that the Committee be mindful of the dates for the Model Energy Code updates specified on Page 12 of my testimony. The dates correspond with the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act’s initiative for the development and establishment of zero net energy commercial buildings in the United States by 2030 as well as 50% of the commercial building stock of the United States by 2040. They also coincide with the code standard update cycles set by IECC and ASHRAE. For example, the 2016 date for the 50% standard is critical and is set to coincide with the 2018 IECC code release date of April 2017. The next IECC code cycle is not until 2024. The dates specified on Page 12 – 2016, 2022 and 2028, giving the states two years to adopt the code standards – meets both the 2030 Congressional target date and code cycle upgrade timelines.


6. As part of your vision to stimulate the economy, you provide a plan that would adjust interest rates on homes, pursuant to their energy reduction capability, and an accelerated depreciation schedule for commercial buildings, who demonstrate energy savings. Please describe who would manage these mortgage and depreciation programs.

The Plan would leverage the benefits of energy reductions by offering for both existing and new homes, through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, mortgage financing with reduced interest rates in proportion to the energy reduction target reached. The Treasury Department is currently doubling its financial support to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It will buy as much as $200 billion of preferred stock in the two mortgage companies, twice as much as previously promised. This support provides the capital to implement the Plan and tie the Treasury’s support of Fannie and Freddie to private investment and job creation.The new ‘conforming’ mortgages would be no larger then that allowed by law. The interest rate buy-down schedule would be determined by available funds and the level of job creation desired. For existing homes, a minimum amount of private investment in efficiency would be required according to the energy reduction target and mortgage rate offered. Homeowners taking advantage of the Plan would be required to have an energy audit and a certification that the work was performed properly. Equity can be built into the Plan by allowing existing efficiency and solar tax credits to be used up to a maximum mortgage amount or home value. Tying the mortgage rate buy down to minimum energy reduction targets insures that every federal dollar spent will stimulate private investment and create jobs.

Since my testimony, the U.S. Treasury and the Federal Reserve are expected to offer refinancing through the Term Asset-backed Loan Facility (TALF) next month to help free up money for the commercial real estate sector. Given this new development, the way to create jobs through commercial building energy reductions is through existing federal, state and local programs. At the federal level we recommend increasing The Energy Efficient Commercial Buildings Deduction from $1.80 per square foot for the 50% energy consumption reduction (cost savings) to 1) $3.50 per square foot for meeting a minimum 50% energy consumption reduction target below ASHRAE 90.1-2004, 2) $5.00 per square foot for meeting a minimum 75% energy consumption reduction target, and 3) $6.50 per square foot for a building that is carbon neutral.

Building energy consumption from non-depletable energy sources collected on site or provided from within a development would be considered an energy reduction. The tax deduction should be offered for a period of 3 years.


7. I understand that there have been several green mortgage products developed to assist homeowners interested in these types of improvements. How different would your program be from these types of products?

Interest in ‘green’ homes has increased dramatically in the past few years. There are rebates, tax breaks and cash incentives for green homes offered by states and local governments. Fannie Mae provides a ‘green mortgage’ program where the added value of a home’s energy efficiency translates into more buying power not necessarily a lower net monthly outlay. The program is for both new construction and existing properties.The problem is very few people are applying for these incentives and mortgages. Right now, the public is averse to purchasing big-ticket items and increasing their monthly outlay, regardless of how small.

Our Plan is very different. By tying the mortgage interest-rate buy-down proposed in our Plan to specific energy reduction targets and homeowner investments, three highly beneficial and desired results are achieved: 1) new demand for Building Sector jobs is immediately generated, benefiting not only the Building Sector, but all the industries and sectors that support the Building Sector, 2) a homeowner’s monthly mortgage payments and energy bills are significantly reduced, providing disposable income and making it much more likely that they can meet their payments, and 3) creation of a new $236 billion per year renovation market that does not currently exist. A mortgage buy-down that is not tied to aggressive energy reduction targets and private investment will not create many jobs or new business opportunities.


8. Is it reasonable to demand Net Zero Energy performance from existing buildings, regardless of size, and geographic location? What obstacles exist in practice, to obtain net zero energy?

In the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act, Congress authorized an initiative for the establishment of 50% of the commercial building stock of the United States to be zero net energy by 2040. In the Act, the definition of a ‘zero-net-energy commercial building’ is:
“a commercial building that is designed, constructed, and operated to—
(A) require a greatly reduced quantity of energy to operate; (B) meet the balance of energy needs from sources of energy that do not produce greenhouse gases (GHG); (C) therefore result in no net emissions of greenhouse gases; and (D) be economically viable.”
Given this definition, I believe it is possible to achieve zero-net-energy for 50% of the commercial building stock of the United States by 2040 for the following reasons; i) over the next 30 years three quarters of the built environment in the U.S. will be either new or renovated; ii) low-rise commercial buildings, which are easier to renovate to zero-net-energy, make up 77% of total U.S. commercial building stock; iii) most existing buildings can reduce their energy consumption using economically viable and readily available, strategies, technologies and equipment; and iv) the definition allows for existing buildings that cannot produce as much clean (non-GHG emitting) energy on-site as they consume, to purchase clean energy from a local or central utility.

Questions from U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA)

I believe another promising area for improving the efficiency and many other aspects of our nation’s buildings is adding on green roofs. On efficiency benefits in particular, according to the EPA, the surface temperature of a green roof can be as much as 90 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than the surface of a traditional rooftop.

1. Since your testimony did not specifically address green roofs, could you talk about what potential roles do you see for green roofs in achieving higher levels of building energy efficiency?

Green roofs and cool roofs (solar reflective roofing membrane or surface) are part of a new generation of roofing strategies that have a high potential to reduce energy consumption in buildings. Each has advantages and disadvantages that are well documented in government literature. It must be noted however, that green roofs provide benefits beyond energy savings, such as storm-water management, filtering and reducing the temperature of water runoff, cooling ambient air temperatures (heat island effect), and increasing green space (see: “Reducing Urban Heat Islands: Compendium of Strategies”, EPA 2008).


2. What is the energy savings potential of green roofs and what federal incentives and programs might help to accelerate the deployment of green roofs nationwide?

The energy savings potential of green roofs depends on local climatic conditions and individual building and roof characteristics, such as size, use and insulation values. Greater energy savings are weighted toward a reduction in summer heat gain through shading, thermal mass and evapotranspiration, rather than in winter heat loss. Of critical importance in low-rise green-roofed buildings is their thermal resiliency, or their ability to maintain acceptable interior conditions when exterior conditions reach extremes (heat waves and cold spells), especially during a blackout or brownout.The Cities of Portland, OR and Chicago, IL have been very successful with their green roofing efforts by offering density bonus incentives in their zoning codes. This type of policy promoted nationally may accelerate green roof deployment. Federal tax credits to building owners are another avenue. We believe however, that updating the National Model Building Energy Code Standards (Page 12 of my testimony) will lead to the greatest deployment of all building energy savings strategies and technologies.


3. Do you believe the Federal Energy Management Program is an effective vehicle for the acceleration of green roof deployment in the federal building sector?

Yes, the Federal Energy Management Program is charged with assisting federal agencies to use energy, water, and other resources wisely; green roofing is an effective design option that accomplishes these goals.

 

EVALUATION OF STUDY Titled “Achieving 30% and 50% over ASHRAE 90.1-2004 in a Low-Rise Office Building”, Prepared for NAIOP (Commercial Real Estate Development Association), Published December 2008

After a thorough review of the NAIOP-commissioned energy efficiency study, it is my professional opinion that the study is of no value and is intentionally misleading for the following reasons:

  1. The study analyzes a square-shaped, four-story office building configuration with completely sealed windows and an equal amount of un-shaded glass on all four sides of the building. In other words, the study analyzes an extremely inefficient and outdated building design typology.
  2. The study looks at only three cities and climates – Newport Beach, Chicago and Baltimore – and does so without changing the design of the building to respond to these very different climates.
  3. Of the numerous energy saving measures that can be applied to, or integrated into a building design, the study analyzes only five measures.
  4. The study intentionally does not analyze any of the readily available (and well known) low-cost, no-cost and cost-saving measures that reduce a building’s energy consumption. For instance, the study does not investigate changing the shape of the building, its orientation or form; redistributing windows or using different windows to take advantage of natural light for daylighting or sunlight for heating (office buildings are day-use facilities); shading the glass in summertime to reduce the need for air-conditioning; using operable windows for ventilation (not even in Newport Beach, with its beautiful year-round climate); or using low-e glazing. It also does not investigate employing a heat recovery system, cost-effective solar hot water heating system or energy management control system. In fact, the study fails to analyze so many of the no-cost and inexpensive energy-saving options available, that it is impossible for the building configuration studied to reach commonly achievable energy-consumption-reduction targets.
  5. NAIOP contends that its analysis is “aimed at understanding the practical and economical impacts” of energy efficiency measures available. Yet, the study intentionally analyzes high-cost, low-energy-reduction measures to falsely demonstrate that increases in efficiency are expensive and unachievable. For example, the roof area in a four-story building is only 25% of the building floor area. Increasing the insulation values in the roof well beyond code will yield only marginal efficiency results and at steep costs. However, seven roof insulation options are analyzed in this category (see Graph 1. below).
  6. Upgrading to commonplace low-e double glazing is 6.5 times more efficient at half the cost per square foot than upgrading to R-38 roof insulation, yet the study does not consider this option.
  7. The study is statistically irrelevant. A four-story office building represents less than one percent (approx. 0.29%) of commercial building square footage and 0.08% of all building square footage in the US*. A four-story, square office building with equally distributed sealed glazing on all four sides is a small fraction of this 0.08%.

* Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2007 Building Energy Data Book, Tables 2.2.2, 2.2.3 and 7.4.2, and the EIA AEO 2008, Tables 4 and 5.

A Hog in a Tuxedo is Still a Hog: The NAIOP Disinformation Study

Still a Hog By Edward Mazria

I was wondering when it would happen, a Building Sector disinformation campaign launched by vested interests. Well, it’s happened.

The campaign hit The New York Times on Saturday, and it comes from NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association. It appears just as the country has come to grips with the fact that buildings are responsible for over 50% (50.1% to be exact*) of all the energy consumed in the US. It comes at a time when Americans are trying to reshape their energy policy and wean themselves from dependence on foreign oil, dwindling natural gas reserves and dirty conventional coal. This disinformation campaign is obviously meant to stall, confuse and distort. The first salvo, a spurious study and press release, was issued two days before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on improving building energy code standards.

It is clear from a simple analysis of the study that NAIOP commissioned a building energy efficiency analysis to support predetermined results. They contracted with ConSol, an energy-modeling firm, and asked them to analyze five (yes, only five) efficiency measures for an imaginary, square-shaped, four-story office building with completely sealed windows and an equal amount of un-shaded glass on all four sides of the building. In other words, analyze an energy Hog.

They conducted the analysis for different cities and climates – Newport Beach, Chicago and Baltimore – without changing the design to respond to these very different climates. They did not study changing the shape of the building, its orientation or form, or redistributing windows or using different windows to take advantage of natural light for daylighting or sunlight for heating (office buildings are day-use facilities). They did not study shading the glass in summertime to reduce the need for air-conditioning, using operable windows for ventilation (not even in Newport Beach with its beautiful year-round climate), using landscaping to reduce micro-climatic impacts, employing cost-effective solar hot water heating systems, employing an energy management control system or even study the impact of using inexpensive energy-saving occupancy sensors in rooms to turn off lights.

In other words, NAIOP intentionally kept out of the analysis all the readily available low-cost, no-cost and cost-saving options to reduce a building’s energy consumption. This deliberate omission is glaringly apparent in their press release and in the NY Times article. In fact, they take so many inexpensive, energy-saving options off the table that it is impossible for the imaginary building to reach commonly achievable energy-consumption-reduction targets. They then add an inflammatory headline to their press release, “Results show efficiencies unable to reach 30 percent mandates”, and state that, “The study provides an unbiased insight into the energy targets practical to commercial development today.”

Using this analysis as their baseline, NAIOP goes on to report, without any objective basis, that “reaching a 30 percent reduction above the ASHRAE standard (a commercial building energy code standard) is not feasible using common design approaches and would exceed a 10-year payback.” They conclude, “achieving a 50 percent reduction above the standard is not currently reachable.” Clearly, this study is meant to confuse the public and stall meaningful legislation, insuring that America remains dependent on foreign oil, natural gas and dirty conventional coal. The U.S. peaked in oil production in 1970 and natural gas in 1973. Our reserves are in steep decline and 70% of the remaining world oil and gas reserves are located in the Middle East, an area stretching from Saudi Arabia and Iran to the Islamic republics of the former Soviet Union.

This type of activity by NAIOP not only hurts our country, it is also a disservice to their membership and all those in the Building Sector who work hard to deliver a high-quality, energy-efficient building product. NAIOP touts itself as advancing responsible commercial real estate development and advocating for effective public policy. This study and misleading campaign accomplishes none of these goals. The American public deserves better. · · ·

*To create a U.S. Building Sector, the Residential buildings (operations) sector, Commercial buildings (operations) sector, Industrial sector-building operations estimate, and the Industrial sector-annual building construction and materials embodied energy estimate were combined.

Edward Mazria testifying before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

 Edward Mazria giving expert testimony on building energy reduction before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (February 26, 2009).

> Download the Companion Guide

The Two-Year, Nine-Million-Jobs Investment Plan: A Better Use of TARP Funds

To most effectively use remaining TARP funds and directly address the mortgage crisis, Architecture 2030 is urging the White House and Congress to support the The Two-Year, Nine-Million-Jobs Investment Plan (an update to the 2030 Challenge Stimulus Plan). With an investment of $192.47 billion ($96.235 billion each year for two years), this Plan creates, in just two years:

  • over 9 million new jobs,
  • $1 trillion in direct, non-federal investment and spending, and
  • a new $236 billion renovation market that could grow to $2.6 trillion by 2030 and over $5.47 trillion by 2069.

Also critically important:

  • the Plan pays for itself annually through the new tax base created,
  • this new tax base also provides the needed funding for public infrastructure
    and building projects, and
  • the Plan can be implemented quickly through existing federal programs.

What can you do?
Architecture 2030 wants you to add your voice to the cause. Please urge your representatives to support the Two-Year, Nine-Million Jobs Investment Plan. A sample letter is available at the Architecture 2030 website, here.

Hope Resides in the Private Building Sector

The Two-Year, Nine-Million-Jobs Investment Plan is so effective because it invests funds directly in the sector that is dragging down the entire economy, i.e. the private building sector. The private building sector represents 93% of total U.S. building stock and affects virtually every industry and sector in the U.S. It also generates substantial private investment and spending, which makes the 9 million jobs possible. Although important, the public building sector accounts for only 7% of total U.S. building stock and, compared to private building, generates very little private investment and spending, resulting in far fewer jobs.

Addressing the foreclosure crisis and the collapse of the private building sector is critical to stabilizing the U.S. economy. The Two-Year, Nine-Million-Jobs Investment Plan addresses both, as well as many other challenges facing the country, including energy independence and climate change. With a single investment, the U.S. can create millions of jobs, strengthen the U.S. economy, reduce CO2 emissions and energy consumption, and save consumers billions of dollars. Investing in the private building sector is the only investment that can accomplish all of these objectives simultaneously.

Additional information is available at the Architecture 2030 website.
To read the updated Plan, click here.

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).