Adopt the 2030 Challenge High Performance Building Standard as Part of Your Climate Action Plan
By JR Fulton, Architect, LEED® AP, Housing and Food Services, University of Washington;
Kurt Haapala, AIA , LEED® AP, Associate Mahlum; and
Ron van der Veen, AIA, LEED® AP, Principal Mithun, AASHE Board of Directors
Energy efficient buildings can be designed, built or renovated to use less than half of their present operational energy while maintaining high quality, health, and comfort. This can be done without significant capital investment costs. Energy efficient buildings cost less over the life of the building, reduce the total cost of ownership, reduce energy and operational costs and significantly reduce carbon emissions. Building in energy efficiency can “futureproof” the University and make it more resilient. But you have to ask for it!
In order to significantly reduce our future carbon footprint in campus construction, it is necessary to provide a very strong focus on energy efficient buildings. One of the most prudent ways to do this is to require an aggressive energy reduction requirement for all university new building and major renovation projects. The Architecture 2030 organization has created the 2030 Challenge that provides the framework for producing energy efficient buildings now and carbon neutral buildings by 2030. Adopting and mandating a building energy efficiency standard like the 2030 Challenge for campus construction will significantly reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions. The 2030 Challenge should be a cornerstone of your Climate Action Plan.
Architecture 2030 recommends that buildings be required to use 50% less energy than a similar building in a similar climate through 2010 with an additional 10% reduction in energy use every 5 years until carbon neutrality is achieved in 2030. For simplicity, the 2030 Challenge has identified several code proxies for ease of implementation. One example of a code proxy is to require a 25% reduction in energy above ASHRAE 90.1-2007 through 2010 with additional reductions every five years.
We believe that LEED is the best overall sustainability benchmark for college buildings, but our experience at the University of Washington has been that despite successfully doing multiple LEED projects and creating very sustainable buildings, significant and consistent reductions in building energy use were not completely achieved to the degree necessary to address climate change. Since the UW Greenhouse Gas Inventory indicated that the University’s buildings were the single largest users of energy and were the predominant generator of UW greenhouse gases - additional focus on energy reduction was necessary.
Of the energy reduction standards available, we believe the 2030 Challenge to be the most appropriate. We recommend that the 2030 Challenge be used in conjunction with a LEED standard. The 2030 Challenge should be mandated for all future campus construction projects and integrated into your University’s Climate Action Plan for the following reasons:
- The 2030 Challenge requires significantly more energy efficient buildings today and is much more aggressive than current energy codes.
- The 2030 Challenge can be achieved with existing technology and minimal additional capital investment costs though it does require an integrated sustainable design approach and greater collaboration between design professionals.
- The 2030 Challenge is an escalating standard which requires increased building energy efficiency over time through better practice and new technology.
- The 2030 Challenge standard is currently being embraced by the design and construction industry.
Constructing highly energy efficient buildings and reducing the energy demand side on campus is one of the most critical and significant means to reduce campus energy use, carbon emissions, and long term energy costs. Identify and mandate an aggressive energy reduction requirement like the 2030 Challenge for all your upcoming construction projects. Make it a requirement of your Climate Action Plan. Just building to the energy code is one step above being illegal! Building to a LEED standard is better, but still not enough. We cannot afford to squander the carbon mitigation opportunities of future construction. Adopting the 2030 Challenge will provide multiple tangible benefits to your institution: reductions in energy cost, reductions in carbon emissions, increased energy security, and a more resilient institution, all very tangible results for University leadership and the campus community.
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