The Oakland University Human Health Building, designed by SmithGroupJJR in 2011, is one of the projects that achieved the current 2030 target with a predicted energy use intensity (PEUI) reduction of 68.3%.
At its annual convention in Washington, D.C., the American Institute of Architects released its second annual report documenting progress toward AIA’s 2030 Commitment. Developed to support Architecture 2030’s 2030 Challenge, the Commitment is a program that promotes greening of firm operations and documenting of predicted energy performance of projects in design, with the goal of helping firms (and the industry as a whole) monitor progress toward the 2030 Challenge goals, which are currently pegged at 60% fossil fuel reduction from average buildings.
The good news from the new report documenting 2011 activities is that the number of firms that have signed onto the commitment continues to grow. At 212, it still represents only a tiny fraction of AIA members, but it is up significantly from 2011. Of those who were eligible, 53% submitted reports as required by the program, including 656 million square feet worth of projects. That’s up from 48% in 2010 but shows that there are still a significant number of firms, especially the very small ones, that signed onto the Commitment but didn’t manage to report.
The reported results changed little from 2010 to 2011:
• Average reduction in predicted energy use intensity went from 35% to 34.6%.
• A respectable 12.8% of projects (weighted by floor area) are on track to hit the 2030 Challenge 60% reduction target, up slightly from 12.1% in 2010. “This is something to celebrate and to learn from; it can be done,” notes Rand Ekman, AIA, of Cannon Design, who helped create AIA’s 2030 Commitment program.
• Energy modeling was done for 57% of the whole building projects (as opposed to interiors-only) by floor area, down from 58% in 2010. Some of the remaining projects will likely be modeled as they get further along in the design process, but those have already missed a chance to take advantage of early-stage modeling. The fact that so many projects are proceeding without models concerns Ekman: “It is not professionally responsible to be delivering projects without intention and knowledge related to energy,” he said.
• Firms intend to collect actual energy use data after the project is occupied on 45% of projects (up from 37% in 2010).
Greg Mella, AIA, vice president at SmithGroupJJR, has also been instrumental in supporting this program. He feels that it’s too early to expect trends in relation to achievement of the 2030 Challenge goals. “The transformations required to shift the momentum of our practice will take several years,” he said, adding, “But for firms, an awareness of energy performance across a practice is the first step.” Mella also described how his firm has improved its ability to collect the data over time, and shared this tip: he found that adding a check-box for whether or not the project intends to pursue the 2030 Challenge to the “project initiation form” in the firm’s accounting program helped raise awareness of the program among project teams and alerts him to projects that may benefit from support in setting their energy targets.
Institutional support for this program within AIA seems to be growing, with plans for a summer fellowship to interview firms and create case studies of reporting best practices, and with ongoing improvements to the Excel spreadsheet-based reporting tool.