As climate change affects the way we live, architects are taking action. A growing number have pledged to make the buildings they design increasingly energy efficient – and ultimately carbon neutral – by 2030. It’s a significant goal.

Buildings and energy graphic

Love: “Buildings represent about forty percent of the carbon emissions for the United States.”

That’s Andrea Love, chair of the American Institute of Architects 2030 Commitment working group. She says to achieve the goal, architects use computer simulations to estimate how much power their designed buildings will use. Then, after the buildings are constructed, the Institute tracks the amount of energy they consume each year.

But progress is slow. Although the number of architects participating in the commitment has grown over the past five years, the proportion of projects meeting the energy targets has flat-lined.

Love says that’s because the learning curve is steep, for both architects and their clients.

Love: “Hopefully, as we kind of get our sea legs and we start to understand a little bit more about what we can do to really drive down energy usage, we’ll start to see more progress.”

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Love also hopes projects that successfully meet the current targets can serve as models for other, helping build a more sustainable future through design.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media/Andrew Lapin.
Photo: Copyright protected.

More Resources
Why Aren’t There More Energy-Efficient Buildings?
AIA 2030 Commitment: 2014 Progress Report
Buildings share of U.S. carbon emissions

Bruce Lieberman, a long-time journalist, has covered climate change science, policy, and politics for nearly two decades. A newspaper reporter for 20 years, Bruce worked for The San Diego Union-Tribune...