WASHINGTON - The U.S. Conference of Mayors will vote in June to endorse a goal of carbon neutrality for all city-funded buildings by 2030. Resolution 50 - sponsored by the mayors of Chicago, Seattle, Miami, and Albuquerque, N.M. - specifically cites the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and is similar to the AIA sustainable practice position statement approved last year, and the association is actively lobbying for its passage.

The AIA has adopted a position statement calling for the immediate energy reduction of all new and renovated buildings to one-half the national average for that building type, with increased reductions of 10 percent every five years so that by the year 2035 all buildings designed will be carbon neutral, meaning they will use no fossil fuel energy.

The resolution, which will be voted on at the U.S. Conference of Mayors annual meeting in early June, was proposed at the mayors' Summit on Energy and the Environment. The mayor's group organized the summit to respond to the nation's ongoing energy crisis. The AIA's national group cosponsored the event, and two architects played prominent roles at the meeting: Ed Mazria, AIA, who gave a keynote address on buildings and climate change, and Vuk Vujovic, Assoc. AIA, who spoke on energy efficiency in municipal buildings. In his keynote, Mazria stressed that we must address the building sector now if we are to avoid dangerous climate change. He urged the mayors to step out in front on this issue and adopt the "2030 Challenge."

The largest source of energy consumption in the world, buildings account for an estimated 48 percent of all greenhouse emissions, compared to 27 percent for transportation and 25 percent for industry, says AIA. In fact, 76 percent of all electricity generated by power plants goes toward operating buildings.

If current trends continue, it is anticipated that annual energy consumption in the U.S. will increase by 37 percent and greenhouse gas emissions by 36 percent in the next 20 years. Annual global usage will increase even more dramatically, by 54 percent over the next two decades.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors' 2030 Challenge seeks to help reverse this trend by setting a goal of carbon neutrality by 2030. The plan will reduce the use of fossil fuels in buildings by 60 percent in 2010, 70 percent in 2015, 80 percent in 2020, 90 percent in 2025, and full carbon neutrality by 2030. This goal was developed with significant input from the AIA and closely tracks the AIA's "Sustainable Architectural Practice" position statement.

The resolution outlines the first steps to help cities meet the fossil fuel reduction goals:

  • First, all newly constructed city buildings should be designed to consume a maximum of one half of the average fossil fuel usage for that building category as defined by the U.S. Department of Energy

  • Second, all renovated buildings should achieve the same 50 percent fossil fuel usage rate as new buildings

  • Finally, all other municipal construction should employ green building practices to the greatest extent achievable.

    See www.architecture2030.org for more information on the 2030 Challenge.

    Publication date: 05/29/2006