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2030 Carbon Targets May Be Within Reach

By Erin Weaver

This article originally appeared on BuildingGreen.com.

March 15, 2012
The Annual Energy Outlook from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows progressively lower energy consumption predictions. 2011 projections are the most recent.
Source: Architecture 2030
The Annual Energy Outlook from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows progressively lower energy consumption predictions. 2011 projections are the most recent.

Architecture 2030 says new energy projections from the federal government show the building sector is on its way to achieving long-term goals in energy and carbon reductions.

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The organization’s 2030 Challenge asks architectural firms to meet progressively rising standards in building energy use and emissions, with the ultimate goal of carbon neutrality by 2030. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) issued a report last year showing projects in 2010 achieving energy use reductions of only 35 percent, discouragingly far from the year’s target of 60 percent. (The report also suffered from a lack of data, making the results difficult to interpret. See Despite Efforts, Many AIA Firms Fail to Meet Their 2030 Commitment.)

New projections from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) are more encouraging. Architecture 2030’s triumphant report on the new federal numbers says, “Improved building design and efficiency has put the 2030 Challenge energy reduction target within reach.”

EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook (AEO) predicts, among other things, the total energy use of residential and commercial buildings; that section of the AEO has been lower each year, with 2011 projections nearly 70 percent below estimates reached in 2005. This is due in part to revised projections about new construction rates: the 2005 AEO predicted that total U.S. building floor area would grow by more than half by 2030, with energy consumption rising by 44.4 percent and CO2 emissions by 53.1 percent. But with total floor area projected to grow by only 38.6 percent and greater efficiency taken into account, those numbers have plummeted to 13.7 percent and 4.6 percent respectively, a drop in projected energy consumption amounting to a difference of 21.3 quadrillion Btu (QBtu). Architecture 2030 predicts that energy use for the building sector would actually decrease by 2030 if “best available technology” were used—with projected energy consumption at –9. 2percent and CO2 emissions at –16.5 percent compared with 2005.

These promising results have led the organization to declare a redoubling of its efforts, including promotion of advanced building energy codes.

Copyright 2012 by BuildingGreen Inc.

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