Copenhagen, Denmark -- The American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) Carl Elefante, AIA president, is calling on architects, industries and governments to do more to achieve a carbon neutral built environment by the 2050 deadline.

Elefante moderated a panel discussion—at the Alliance to Save Energy’s EE Global Forum in Copenhagen—where architects and industry leaders examined how we can better support carbon-reduction goals. The conversation focused on designing high-performance buildings, retrofitting the existing building stock, promoting renewable energy, reducing embodied carbon, and utilizing AIA’s 2030 Commitment program.

“The United States and Europe have made significant strides when it comes to designing high-performance buildings, but we face real challenges in retrofitting the existing building stock,” said Elefante. “Overcoming this is critical to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. The time is now for our governments to implement effective programs, policies and incentives that will allow manufacturers, designers and specifiers to make progress towards a sustainable future.”

In order to meet 2050 energy targets, 75% of the existing building stock needs to be renovated, which amounts to 54 billion square feet of renovations. Overall, it would require every architect in the U.S. to renovate approximately 18,000 square feet each year for the next 32 years. This is a substantial increase to the low rate of renovation occurring throughout the U.S.

In an effort to combat the lack of uniform public policies, AIA developed the 2030 Commitment. As part of the program, AIA architecture firms and engineers enter predicted energy-use data from all projects in an interface to aggregate design-energy use year to year. Overall, the tool allows firms to know how well their projects perform together as a portfolio and whether they are designing energy-efficient buildings.

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