The 2030 Commitment


The 2030 Commitment

By By Nathan Kipnis, FAIA

The 2030 Commitment

Georgia Tech, Krone engineered biosystems building. 69 percent predicted reduction from national average energy use intensity for building type.
Photo Credit: Cooper Carry


I sit on the American Institute of Architects (AIA) 2030 Commitment committee. The 2030 Commitment is a program developed by the AIA whose goal is to design buildings and communities that are net zero carbon and energy by 2030. The program was set up in response to a call to action by Architecture2030. The 2030 Commitment is made up of three parts. Firms are to sign a letter stating that they commit to designing their projects to this standard. There is a Sustainable Action Plan that the firm is to draft up that documents the goals of the firm’s operations and firm culture that align with the 2030 Commitment. And finally, the firm is to report their project performance on the Design Data Exchange (DDx). This is an online portfolio that allows the firm to see how they are doing on a project by project basis, as well as anonymously to see how they compare to other firms.

I am very excited about the 2030 Commitment. We are currently up to over three billion square feet of construction being reported every year, by over 550 dedicated architecture firms. Being able to see how your projects compare is similar to the dashboards on hybrid and electric cars. It elevates your consciousness on how the buildings perform. Plus, you gain knowledge on what impact the design is having and how to do better on each and every project.

I have been involved with the 2030 Commitment Working Group for over nine years. I am the current co-chair of the committee, and I feel that this is one of the most important things I have done professionally. It’s one thing for me to design ten to twelve really great, high-performance homes a year, but it’s completely another thing to have an impact on the entire architecture profession. Buildings are responsible for 40 percent of the CO2 emissions, and as architects, we drive the decisions that impact their performance. Knowledge about the impact that the buildings have is everything.

In 2017 the firms who were participating in the 2030 Commitment saved nearly 18 million metric tons of CO2. That translates into the equivalent to the amount of carbon that would be sequestered by over 21 million acres of forest. That’s the size of Maine.

The numbers for 2018 will exceed those totals, so the benefits of joining the 2030 Commitment begin with helping your clients save money by integrating energy metrics and analysis into your firm’s DNA. And becoming a part of a growing number of design firms who are working to combat climate change will raise your firm’s profile regarding your approach to sustainability.

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