News Analysis

How Climate Commitments Are Transforming Design

Many are struggling to hit 2030 Commitment targets and embodied carbon goals. We picked the brains of three architecture firms that are in the thick of it—and progressing.

The largest design firm in the world made a bit of a splash in 2020 with its Gensler Cities Climate Challenge (GC3 for short). “Within a decade, we will eliminate all net emissions associated with our work,” the GC3 boldly states. The commitment explicitly includes both operating carbon (greenhouse gas emissions associated with energy use during operation) and embodied carbon (emissions associated with building materials and construction).

Many firms have signed on to the American Institute of Architects’ 2030 Commitment, whose aspiration is that “by 2030, it will be standard practice to design and construct climate-neutral buildings.” But as the year 2030 looms, a sense of dread may be setting in for some signatories. Here in 2021, the current energy-use reduction goal is 80% against a 2005 baseline. That’s for projects across a portfolio. What sounded achievable in 2008 may still feel decades away.

Published March 1, 2021

Melton, P. (2021, February 17). How Climate Commitments Are Transforming Design. Retrieved from