As Environmental Awareness Week draws near, we are featuring exclusive interviews with our four distinguished guest speakers. Today, Edward Mazria spoke to us about his non-profit organization, Architecture 2030 and its mission is to rapidly transform the U.S. and global Building Sector from the major contributor of greenhouse gas emissions to a central part of the solution to the climate change, energy consumption, and economic crises. His streaming presentation to all the Cannon Design offices will take place on Thursday, Oct 25.
Ed Mazria is an internationally-recognized architect, author, researcher, and educator with a long and distinguished career. His award-winning architecture and planning projects span over a 35-year period, each employing a cutting-edge environmental approach to design. Most recently, Ed has reshaped the national and international dialogue on energy and climate change to incorporate building design and the “Building Sector.” He is the founder of Architecture 2030 and issued The 2030 Challenge, a measured and achievable strategy to dramatically reduce global energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2030. We asked Ed a few questions below:
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1.) You describe the building sector to be both the problem and the solution. Can you explain this paradox and how it ties into the mission of Architecture 2030?
Every year, nearly half of all energy produced in the U.S. is consumed by the Building Sector – about the same amount of energy consumed by both transportation and industry combined. Additionally, both energy consumption and the burning of fossil fuels are on the rise in the Building Sector as well according to our findings. So yes, we as architects, construction managers, designers and engineers are a very large part of the problem, but we can also act together to be a powerful part of the solution. We have an ethical obligation to seek a solution to this great challenge. The profession is predisposed to do the right thing, and through our rigorous training and schooling, we are wired to solve the world’s greatest challenges. This mission to address climate change through the built environment is at the core of Architecture 2030.
2.) How will material selection and embodied carbon content come into play in The 2030 Challenge?
In 2006, we launched the original 2030 Challenge which aims to reduce fossil fuel energy for building operations to carbon neutral, or zero-net-energy, by the 2030 target date. Two years ago, we introduced guidelines for planning, called the 2030 Challenge for Planning, as well. One year ago, we developed The 2030 Challenge for Products which calls for a strong attention to the embodied carbon content of raw resource extraction, manufacturing, transportation, construction, usage, and end-of-life stages of building products that all generate significant greenhouse gas emissions. We are asking the building sector to specify products for new buildings, developments, and renovations to meet a maximum carbon-equivalent footprint of 30% below the product category average today, increasing the reduction target to 50% by 2030.
3.) How do you feel about Cannon Design’s efforts to track embodied energy in materials we use, in particular, the findings in our Material LIFE document?
Material LIFE is a great example of a first step to study the different product categories and the materials selection impact on embodied energy. Cannon Design is one of the early firms to study the embodied energy in your materials selection in such depth. You know, there are tens of thousands of products to choose from when one is choosing materials for a new building and it is important to be more selective about the materials we ultimately choose. You are certainly on the leading edge of this research and the more minds we have working on these important challenges, the better off we are.
4.) Can you explain the difference between The 2030 Challenge and the AIA 2030 Commitment?
The main difference between adoption of the 2030 Challenge and that of the AIA 2030 Commitment is one of scope. The 2030 Challenge is specifically focused on lowering building energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Although the 2030 Challenge is at the core of the AIA 2030 Commitment, the Commitment encompasses other issues as well, such as incorporating water and indoor air quality requirements in every design and outlining internal policies within the firm with regards to recycling, green product purchasing and energy conservation, among others.
5.) What can those in the architecture/ engineering industry do to start getting involved with Architecture 2030 and The 2030 Challenge?
The first thing to do is to officially adopt the 2030 Challenge. Then begin to move the culture within your firm to embrace the 2030 Challenge in their daily work. Please also sign up for our e-news bulletin for updates including an announcement soon about the new, visually-focused “2030 Palette”– a set of core planning and design principles for the built environment, from planning regions, cities and towns, to designing buildings and building elements. The Palette will also have helpful links to organizations developing sustainable strategies to meet the 2030 Challenge.
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