Geoff Manaugh

INHABITAT INTERVIEW: Ed Mazria from Architecture 2030

by , 05/03/11

Ed Mazria, Graph of Carbon Emissions, Architecture 2030, AIA, Sustainable Architecture, Green Architecture, Environmental Architecture, Eco-friendly architecture, Energy Savings Buildings, Albuquerque, NM, Rio Grande Botanical Garden

Geoff: What’s the other 8%?

Ed

: The other 8% is greenhouse gas emissions released in producing the materials for buildings – materials that architects can specify – as well as during the construction process itself.

But the major part, you see – 40% – is design. Every time we design a building, we set up its energy consumption pattern and its greenhouse gas emissions pattern for the next 50-100 years. That’s why the building sector and the architecture sector is so critical. It takes a long time to turn over – whereas the transportation sector, on wheels, in this country, turns over once every twelve years.


[Image: "U.S. Energy Consumption by Sector. A reorganization of existing data - combining the energy required to run residential, commercial, and industrial buildings along with the embodied energy of industry-produced materials like carpet, tile, and hardware - exposes architecture as the hidden polluter." Graphic by Criswell Lappin, via Metropolis].

Geoff: Speaking of which, you’ve pointed out elsewhere that SUVs only represent about 3% of total greenhouse gas emissions in the US – yet they receive the brunt of the media’s attention and anger. The real culprit is wastefully designed architecture.

Ed

: People must remember, though, that this doesn’t let the US automobile industry off the hook! Cars and SUVs are still part of the problem – and we need to attack that part of the problem.

And there are solutions. One of the solutions, for example, is to use plug-in hybrid flex-fuel technology. Plug-in meaning you can collect energy on your rooftop, with photovoltaic cells, and then plug your car into a battery at night, and drive 30-50 miles on a charge. Then you can use hybrid technology to get incredible miles; then you can use flex-fuel – so you put high-cellulose alcohol or ethanol into the tank, rather than fossil fuels. So there are solutions in that sector.

Geoff

: It seems like the 2030 Challenge has met with a lot of enthusiasm from both the American Institute of Architects and the US Conference of Mayors. Is that the case, or were you hoping for a better response?

Ed

: The response was immediate, and very gratifying. Right when we issued the challenge, in January of 2006, the American Institute of Architects adopted it for all its 78,000 members. That did two things. One, it got the wheels turning within the architecture and building sector to figure out how to meet the Challenge. Two, it began getting resources and information to architects and to designers about how to change course.

Just as important, the US Conference of Mayors then adopted the 2030 Challenge in a resolution that was passed at their annual convention. That was passed unanimously. The 2030 Challenge was adopted for all buildings in all cities. That’s very important.

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6 Comments

  1. Patrick McGuinness October 26, 2007 at 10:59 pm

    Given this challenge: “That the project be designed to engage the environment in a way that dramatically reduces or eliminates the need for fossil fuels.”

    There is one design that could answer that challenge fully and dramatically: Designing and building safe, non-GHG-emitting nuclear power plants.

    Nuclear power can make the entire electrical energy sector carbon-neutral and de-link total energy usage from global warming. Seventy-six percent of all electricity generated by US power plants goes to supply the Building Sector. Building 300 nuclear power plants would be enough to make that entire portion of our energy consumption non-fossil fuel based, and this is not an impractical goal, as it is merely bringing the US up to where France and Japan are in terms of use of nuclear power for electricity production.

  2. Nikos Karamesinis October 11, 2007 at 4:51 pm

    Actually quite an informative article since I am on the beginning of a project which aims to give as a boost to develop a few houses in a settlement that has near zero or zero carbon footprint. Thank you for all the important information.

    Karamesinis Nikos
    DMU Leicester
    BArch

  3. Sustainable Sean January 29, 2007 at 4:08 pm

    Absolutely AWESOME interview and article. Kudos to Mazria and you guys!

  4. Pink Robe January 29, 2007 at 3:51 pm

    Excellent article! We’re meeting with an architect in a couple of days to talk about a reno of our home, and I’m definitely going to be talking to him about these topics.

  5. Geoff January 29, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    Just a quick note: somehow, in posting this, all of the interview’s links disappeared! So you’re left with a bunch of fake links that go nowhere.

    However, we’ll be fixing that over the next few hours – so by late afternoon or so those should be fully functional.

    Sorry about any confusion, meanwhile -

  6. Nick Simpson January 29, 2007 at 6:56 am

    Haven’t had chance to read the whole article yet – having to head into Uni, where I’ll sit and read it right the way through – but this is EXACTLY what should be happening over there. What a brilliant guy! And to put it into context, we’ve just been told here in the UK that all housing must be carbon neutral within the next 10 years (and we’ve been one of the slowest of the bigger countries to adopt environmental legislation in Europe). So even with another long-term Republican government (please, please no…) there’ll be plenty of evidence by even 2020 to show that it’s easy to do and there’s no excuses for the government not to go with this.

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