ATLANTA - The American Institute of Architects (AIA), the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), Architecture 2030, the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA), and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), supported by representatives of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), finalized an agreement of understanding establishing a common starting point and a goal of net zero energy buildings.

“This agreement allows the building design sector to move forward with designing buildings that use substantially less energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and create spaces that are healthy and comfortable,” according to the groups.

“Establishing a baseline for reducing energy consumption is a critical step in the goal of curbing emissions,” said AIA president RK Stewart, fellow of AIA. “From this baseline, the design and construction industry can use this reference point to ensure that new or renovated buildings are designed to operate in a smart, healthy, and efficient manner.”

While focused on designing net zero energy buildings, the ultimate goal is carbon-neutral buildings by 2030. In joining together, the groups recognize that “the building sector accounts for almost half of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States annually.”

“The task we face is daunting,” said Edward Mazria, founder and executive director of Architecture 2030. “Working separately, we could accomplish something significant in each of our respective spheres. By working together, we actually have a chance to influence the course of history.”

To reach that goal, AIA, ASHRAE, Architecture 2030, IESNA, and USGBC agreed to define the baseline starting point for their common target goals as the national average energy consumption of existing U.S. commercial buildings as reported by the 2003 Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS).

“ASHRAE is excited to work with the various organizations that have participated in developing this agreement,” said Terry Townsend, ASHRAE president. “Collectively, our programs, initiatives, and goals now have an agreed-upon baseline to operate from in our common quest to achieve a sustainable future. The challenge is now upon each organization to make good on their commitments.”

Publication date:05/28/2007