Article Date: 11/08/2013

Progress Reported in the Push for More Carbon-Neutral Buildings … But Is It Enough?

By Steve Rizer


How is America faring in its quest to make carbon-neutral buildings a much more common sight nationwide? Statistics that the American Institute of Architects (AIA) released last month indicate some improvement on this front, but is the reported progress falling woefully short of expectations for this particular point in time? Perhaps.


Below are some of the latest findings from the 2030 Commitment Program, a voluntary initiative involving AIA members and others who are working toward the organization’s goal of carbon-neutral buildings within the next 17 years, as documented in the new “Measuring Industry Progress towards 2030” report. At the end of last year, firms were asked to submit an assessment of their 2012 design work using a tool developed by AIA three years ago.

  • About 14 percent of total gross square footage encompassed by the project is meeting the current 60 percent carbon reduction target, an increase of 2 percent from 2011.
  • A total of 110 firms submitted reports, 6 percent more than the comparable number in 2011.
  • Roughly 1.4 billion gross square feet (gsf) are represented in the latest set of data, a 120 percent increase from 2011.
  • Energy modeling is being used to predict operational energy consumption for approximately 57 percent of the total gsf.
  • Firms reported a more than one-third (37 percent) average predicted energy use intensity reduction, an increase of 2 percent from 2011.
  • There was about a 17 percent average firm reduction in lighting power density for interior projects, a decrease of 4 percent from 2011.

Despite the progress, AIA Chief Executive Officer Robert Ivy acknowledged that much more work needs to be done. “We still need to have energy modeling become standard for every design project if we are going to meet our ultimate goal of carbon-neutral buildings. Architects play a crucial role for clients and for planet Earth by predictive modeling, clearly demonstrating how it can lead to long-term economic benefits through a building’s lifespan.”



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