Following the Washington, D.C.-based American Institute of Architects' (AIA) annual Grassroots Legislative and Leadership Conference, AIA President RK Stewart, FAIA, testified before the Subcommittee on Energy of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on the issue of energy efficiency in buildings. He explained the pivotal role that buildings play in contributing to climate change and recommended that Congress pass legislation committing the federal government to meeting aggressive energy-efficiency requirements for federal buildings. Specifically, it is the AIA’s recommendation that all new buildings and major renovations owned or leased by the federal government should immediately meet fossil fuel generated energy-consumption targets that represent a 50-percent reduction from that of similar federal buildings in 2003. In 2010, this target would increase to a 60-percent reduction. The targets would increase thereafter at 5-year intervals until 2030 when new federal buildings and major renovations would be carbon neutral.
“Because the built environment produces nearly half of the greenhouse-gas emissions that contribute to global warming, there is an overwhelming need to revolutionize the ways that buildings are designed,” says Stewart. “While state and local governments have taken the lead on encouraging energy-efficient building design, the federal government is in the best position to accelerate adoption of sustainable design principles through a combination of tax incentives, regulations, and legislative requirements.”
Relevant facts on buildings’ role in global warming:
- Buildings and the embedded energy of their interiors produce 48 percent of dangerous greenhouse-gas emissions that contribute to climate change.
- Buildings consume 71 percent of electricity produced at U.S. power plants.
- Nonresidential buildings are in use an average of 75 years, consuming energy and producing emissions throughout their life.
- U.S. buildings account for nearly the same amount of carbon emissions as the economies of Japan, France, and the United Kingdom combined.
Stewart adds, “U.S. energy consumption is projected to increase by 32 percent over the next 25 years and, by the year 2035, three-quarters of the built environment will be new or renovated. We are at a critical juncture in addressing this situation, and the AIA believes that the time is now to act to reverse this course and start making significant reductions in the amount of fossil-fuel generated energy our nation consumes through its buildings.”
The information was provided by the American Institute of Architects. For 150 years, members of the American Institute of Architects have worked with each other and their communities to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings and cityscapes. To find out more about the AIA, visit (www.aia.org). To read the full testimony delivered by RK Stewart on Feb. 12, 2007, click here.