Helping Meet Emissions Reduction Targets in the Built Environment
Achieving Zero is a framework of integrated polices for sub-national governments to phase out CO2 emissions in the built environment by about 2050.
Its key implementation strategies occur at building intervention points which align building energy upgrades — energy efficiency retrofits and the sourcing of renewable energy — with capital improvement and major renovation cycles of existing buildings. The framework utilizes a zero net carbon building standard that applies to all buildings, with steps to incorporate it into advanced building energy codes, reach codes and incentives. Achieving Zero is structured to deliver energy and emissions reductions and the rapid expansion of local renewable energy systems while supporting the development of equitable, thriving and resilient communities.
The Achieving Zero framework reflects Architecture 2030’s work with cities, as urban areas are critical to phasing out CO2 emissions in the built environment by mid century. The genesis of the program was a 2014 report produced by Architecture 2030 titled Roadmap to Zero Emissions, a blueprint for mitigating building sector emissions that was prepared for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference in Paris in 2015. From research on building emissions reduction opportunities three key indicators were observed. First, population growth trends point towards cities as the future home of 5 billion residents worldwide by 2030, marking a major shift towards global urbanization. Second, cities are responsible for over 70 percent of global energy consumption and CO2 emissions, mostly from buildings, marking a significant opportunity to focus climate change mitigation efforts on dense urban environments. Third, while many cities have made public commitments for carbon emissions reduction – such as an 80% reduction by 2050 (80×50) – few have a detailed plans for meeting their commitments, nor are they connecting carbon reduction solutions in the built environment with those that address their other pressing concerns around adaptability, resiliency and equity.
In 2015, Architecture 2030 partnered with the city of New York City (NYC), Working Families, and ALIGN New York to analyze the city’s building stock and outline policy actions to meet an 80% carbon emissions reduction by 2050. In a report titled Achieving 80×50, Architecture 2030 provided a framework of NYC incremental code updates and efficiency programs to reduce building emissions and stimulate local construction and renewable energy markets. Since then, Architecture 2030 developed Achieving Zero as a standardized and integrated policy framework designed to integrate a process for discovery, strategy development and implementation that applies to cities worldwide.
Architecture 2030 is a non-profit, non-partisan, and independent organization whose mission is to rapidly transform the global built environment from the major contributor of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to a central part of the solution to the climate crisis.
The organization pursues two objectives:
- to achieve the dramatic reduction of global fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the built environment by changing the way cities, communities, infrastructure and buildings are operated, planned, designed, and constructed; and,
- to advance the development of just and sustainable, resilient, carbon-neutral built environments that can manage the impacts of climate change, protect and enhance natural resources and wildlife habitats, provide clean air and water, generate local low-cost renewable energy, and advance more livable buildings and communities.
Architecture 2030 defined the connection between climate change and the global built environment when it was revealed in 2003 that buildings are responsible for 48 percent of total U.S. energy consumption and GHG emissions, and 77 percent of total U.S. electricity consumption1.
To address this, Architecture 2030 issued the 2030 Challenge in 2006. The 2030 Challenge for Planning, issued in 2008, combined the dramatic reduction in fossil fuel consumption and GHG emissions in buildings called for in the 2030 Challenge with reductions in community-wide water consumption and transportation emissions.
Since then, Architecture 2030 has promoted and expanded these efforts through developing online educational series, hosting international summits, and direct engagement of practitioners throughout the building industry.
Architecture 2030 is bringing about a broad shift in the built environment, led by the building sector itself – architects, planners, developers, owners, managers, builders, NGOs, and local and national governments.
To learn more about Architecture 2030, visit the main site.
1 Data Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration (2012)
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