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'Architecture 2030' turns to Zero Code for energy efficiency

Aiming for zero-net-carbon buildings, the latest initiative of Architecture 2030 is an international building energy standard that integrates cost-effective energy efficiency measures with renewable energy.

In January 2006, Architecture 2030 – a non-profit think tank established by Edward Mazria in 2002 as part of his architectural practice – issued "the 2030 Challenge". Prior to launching Architecture 2030, Mazria was probably best known for his leadership in the field of resource conservation, and for his passive heating, cooling, and daylighting strategies.

The goal of Architecture 2030 was to achieve a “dramatic reduction in global fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions of the built environment by changing the way cities, communities, infrastructure, and buildings, are operated, planned, designed, and constructed” and to “advance the regional 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.”  The 2030 Challenge established the following targets, to be voluntarily adopted by the global architecture and building community:

  • New buildings, developments, and major renovations would be designed to meet a fossil fuel, greenhouse gas-emitting, energy consumption performance standard of 70% below the regional (or national) average for that type of building. That standard is increased to 80% in 2020, 90% in 2025, and 100% in 2030 (carbon neutral).
  • An equal amount of existing building area, as a minimum, would be renovated every year in order to meet a fossil fuel, greenhouse gas-emitting, energy consumption performance standard of 70% of the regional (or national) average for that type of building.

Very soon after its launch, the 2030 Challenge had been adopted by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and several states.  By the end of 2007, the 2030 Challenge had been mandated for all federal buildings in the Energy Independence and Security Act. Today, the 2030 Challenge has been adopted by most leading green-focused organizations, as well as by numerous universities, businesses, professional firms, individuals, and government entities at all levels.

The latest initiative of Architecture 2030 is ZERO Code, an international building energy standard that integrates cost-effective energy efficiency measures with renewable energy in order to achieve zero-net-carbon buildings.  The ZERO Code provides language that is easily adaptable by a local jurisdiction and is flexible in its implementation of renewable energy requirements.

This flexibility, including both performance and prescriptive paths to compliance, makes the code applicable to most new building types, including commercial, institutional, mid-to high-rise multifamily, and even downtown-sited buildings that have little or no on-site renewable energy capability. The ZERO Code relies on ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2016 requirements for minimum building efficiency, and can also provide for other referenced standards, such as the International Green Construction Code and ASHRAE Standard 189.1-2017.

Along with the code, Architecture 2030 has published a technical support document that describes options for evaluating and purchasing off-site renewable energy and has developed an Energy Calculator to reduces errors when implementing the prescriptive compliance path. They have also developed an Application Program Interface (API) for their software, to aid in the development of ZERO Code apps for websites, smartphones, and tablets.

A regular contributor to HPAC Engineering and a member of its editorial advisory board, the author is a principal at Sustainable Performance Solutions LLC, a south Florida-based engineering firm focusing on energy and sustainability. He can be reached at [email protected]

TAGS: Renewables
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