If the unseasonably hot weather and terribly destructive storms weren’t enough to convince you that climate change is happening, then a recent study by Mercer should sway even the most stalwart naysayers. The study estimates that inclement weather will have a negative effect on buildings, transportation and the construction industries to the tune of $8 trillion by 2030. Now an organization called Architecture 2030 is issuing a challenge it hopes will encourage the building industry to help prevent the worst effects of global warming.
Architecture Challenge 2030 was founded in 2003 by visionary, Ed Mazria. Mazria was not only seminal in recognizing the potential for global warming to really ruin your day, but also brought to the attention of administrators the fact that buildings were contributing half of annual GHG emissions and needed to be regulated. There is a tipping point for global warming reformation and we are set to reach its limits in 2030. Although increasingly stringent legislature has done much to curb building GHG emissions, the process is too slow to reach target levels.
Not only is the process too slow, but with burgeoning industrial nations like China and India stubbornly refusing to effect change in their own building codes, the onus for real progress falls on the individual building owner. Architecture Challenge 2030 hopes to appeal to the environmental conscience of building owners and goes beyond legislation to extend the challenge of creating buildings efficient enough to reach quotas that will effectively reduce GHG emissions to below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.
Architecture Challenge 2030 has issued the following targets:
“These targets may be accomplished by implementing innovative sustainable design strategies, generating on-site renewable power and/or purchasing (20% maximum) renewable energy,” the website proposes.
Not only do buildings produce large GHG emissions, but the products and materials from which they are made have embodied carbon footprints. The extraction of resources used in the manufacture of building products, the manufacturing process itself and then the transportation of materials as well as their use in the construction of buildings have a huge carbon footprint. There are also the end-of-life processes to consider as materials need be recycled or disposed of. Architecture Challenge 2030 has extended their challenge to the producers of building materials and products. The first challenge is to reduce the embodied carbon footprint of products by 30% followed by a more stringent reduction in the years to come:
Not only have they extended this challenge, but they are also embroiled in the mammoth task of documenting all the products and their improvements so that builders and designers have a database of compliant products to choose from. Let’s hope Ed Mazria’s challenge does not go unmet as the reduction of emissions can be a financially advantageous move on the part of building owners.