Sustainability: 2030 Challenge Progress Bridges Architects and Engineers

12 November 2019All, Architecture and EngineeringSustainability



Sustainable construction requires designers and contractors to use building practices that will not cause long-term damage to the environment. As the construction industry aims to reduce the environmental impact of buildings with energy efficiency and moderation in the use of materials and development space, players are managing to bring to fruition net-zero projects that can eliminate the depletion of energy, raw materials and water.

According to Redshift, as of 2017 the AIA’s 2030 Challenge – a framework for architectural firms to reduce fossil-fuel dependence and make all buildings, developments and major renovations carbon neutral by 2030 – had been adopted by 80 percent of the top 10 and 65 percent of the top 20 architecture, engineering, and planning firms in the U.S., as well as many state and local government agencies. Ever since DPR Construction received the second Net-Zero Energy Building certification in the US and the 2012 LEED-NC Platinum award for its office building in Phoenix, where does the AIA 2030 Challenge stand today?

Insight and Companion Tools:

Autodesk launched its Insight product in 2015 so companies could integrate with the AIA 2030 DDx (Design Data Exchange) to track their progress toward carbon neutral goals in their design and construction projects. The ultimate goal of the AIA 2030 effort is for energy modeling to be a standard part of every project. The FenestraPro add-in for Revit now enables architects to design energy efficient building facades to comply with building regulations and performance without compromising the aesthetic of the façade. FenestraPro, Revit and Insight tools all work together, providing input to each other, driving the model and the design and performance metrics. Autodesk just announced its EC3 Tool Partnership to combat embodied carbon emissions, which are associated with building material manufacturing and construction. We’re sure to see more about this in the news in the coming months.

LEED Collaboration:

The architectural and engineering disciplines have their distinct parts to play in erecting buildings that meet LEED standards. The entire project team – architectural, engineering, construction, owner – needs to participate in planning at the early stages, running simulations on architectural designs until energy targets are achieved. Cross-functional teams can make better decisions up front and implement sustainable designs – improving building durability and resiliency, reducing costs, addressing climate issues, and improving occupant comfort.


The Carbon Smart Materials Palette, an Architecture 2030 project, provides attribute-based design and materials specification guidance for reducing carbon in the built environment. Its concrete and insulation strategies have been updated to reflect the latest information and data available for embodied carbon emissions reductions.

“How-to” Conferences:  

The Greenbuild International Conference was just held November 18-22, 2019 in Atlanta. Designed for green building professionals worldwide, the conference is a source for learning about cutting edge solutions for construction that’s more sustainable, resilient, cost efficient, and energy efficient.

CarbonPositive’20, scheduled for March 2-4, 2020 in Los Angeles, will be an interdisciplinary, practice-focused conference and expo open to architects, planners, engineers, builders, developers, academics, policymakers, product manufacturers, and others. Sponsored by Ed Mazria’s Architecture 2030 and ARCHITECT Magazine, the purpose of the conference is to define the “how-to” for rapidly reducing embodied and operational carbon in the global built environment.

ZERO Code:  

The International Code Council members are voting between October 30 and November 30, 2019 on a ZERO Code Renewable Energy Appendix, which would become part of the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code. The new IECC would give thousands of state, city and county building departments a new voluntary building standard for zero-net-carbon so they can work toward transitioning to a 100% clean building design as part of their building codes.

Sustainable construction has gained impressive momentum world-wide. Over 450 member firms have joined the AIA 2030 Commitment. This group of professionals is using sustainable building practices to address climate issues and energy challenges one project at a time. If your firm is interested in talking to an industry expert about sustainability, contact Applied Software for a short discovery call. Find out how your firm can participate in reducing the environmental impact of the global built environment.



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