Edward Mazria

Edward Mazria is an internationally recognized architect and the founder of Architecture 2030, which aims to rapidly transform the building sector from a major contributor of greenhouse-gas emissions to a central part of the solution to the global-warming crisis.

Taking a cue from King Solomon

A skeptical take on efficiency money in Obama’s jobs plan

King Solomon, reputed to be the wisest man who ever lived, had the difficult job of deciding which of two women was the rightful mother …

Are new nuclear plants the answer? No.

Oh, those sexy building codes: More powerful than 100 nuclear plants

Building energy codes are the key.Are 100 new nuclear plants the solution to our climate troubles? I asked that question in a post last week. …

100 nuclear plants: The answer?

  Architecture 2030 will post a better answer on Grist next week. Stay tuned … UPDATE:  Here’s the answer.  

A hog in a tuxedo is still a hog

NAIOP releases disinformation study downplaying building efficiency

I was wondering when it would happen: a building sector disinformation campaign launched by vested interests. Well it's here. The campaign hit the New York Times on Saturday, and it comes from NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association. It appears just as the country has come to grips with the fact that buildings are responsible for over 50% (50.1% to be exact*) of all the energy consumed in the U.S. It comes at a time when Americans are trying to reshape their energy policy and wean themselves from dependence on foreign oil, dwindling natural gas reserves, and dirty conventional coal. This disinformation campaign is obviously meant to stall, confuse, and distort. The first salvo, a spurious study (PDF) and press release, was issued two days before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on improving building energy code standards. It is clear from a simple analysis of the study that NAIOP commissioned a building energy efficiency analysis to support predetermined results. They contracted with ConSol, an energy modeling firm, and asked them to analyze five (yes, only five) efficiency measures for an imaginary square-shaped, four-story office building with completely sealed windows and an equal amount of un-shaded glass on all four sides of the building. In other words, analyze an energy hog. They conducted the analysis for different cities and climates -- Newport Beach, Chicago, and Baltimore -- without changing the design to respond to these very different climates. They did not study changing the shape of the building, its orientation or form, or redistributing windows or using different windows to take advantage of natural light for daylighting or sunlight for heating. (Office buildings are day-use facilities.) They did not study shading the glass in summertime to reduce the need for air-conditioning, using operable windows for ventilation (not even in Newport Beach with its beautiful year-round climate), using landscaping to reduce micro-climatic impacts, employing cost-effective solar hot water heating systems, employing an energy management control system, or even study the impact of using inexpensive energy saving occupancy sensors in rooms to turn off lights. In other words, NAIOP intentionally kept out of the analysis all the readily available low-cost, no-cost, and cost-saving options to reduce a building's energy consumption. This deliberate omission is glaringly apparent in their press release and in the NYT article. In fact, they take so many inexpensive energy-saving options off the table that it is impossible for the imaginary building to reach commonly achievable energy-consumption-reduction targets. They then add an inflammatory headline to their press release -- "Results show efficiencies unable to reach 30 percent mandates" -- and state that, "The study provides an unbiased insight into the energy targets practical to commercial development today." Using this pseudo-analysis as their baseline, NAIOP goes on to report, without any objective basis, that "reaching a 30 percent reduction above the ASHRAE standard (a commercial building energy code standard) is not feasible using common design approaches and would exceed a 10-year payback." They conclude, "achieving a 50 percent reduction above the standard is not currently reachable." Clearly, this study is meant to confuse the public and stall meaningful legislation, insuring that America remains dependent on foreign oil, natural gas, and dirty conventional coal. The U.S. peaked in oil production in 1970 and natural gas in 1973. Our reserves are in steep decline and 70 percent of the remaining world oil and gas reserves are located in the Middle East, an area stretching from Saudi Arabia and Iran to the Islamic republics of the former Soviet Union. This type of activity by NAIOP not only hurts our country, it is also a disservice to their membership and all those in the building sector who work hard to deliver a high-quality, energy-efficient building products. NAIOP touts itself as advancing responsible commercial real estate development and advocating for effective public policy. This pseudo-study and misleading campaign accomplishes none of these goals. The American public deserves better. ----- * To create a U.S. Building Sector, the Residential buildings (operations) sector, Commercial buildings (operations) sector, Industrial sector-building operations estimate, and the Industrial sector-annual building construction and materials embodied energy estimate were combined.

Building stimulus on Capitol Hill

2030 Challenge Stimulus Plan: Emission reductions, jobs, and economic benefits across the country

President-elect Obama has committed to economic recovery, energy independence, carbon-neutral buildings by 2030, and an 80 percent reduction in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. …

Live, baby, live

Architecture 2030’s challenge targets would provide five times the energy as offshore and nuclear

Because America’s energy crisis is adversely impacting our economy and national security, it is critical to take a realistic look at the energy solutions currently …

Drill here, drill now

A pipe dream

Data Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration From Architecture 2030

Your city council could save the world

How local building codes can be adapted to meet the 2030 Challenge right now

Compared to cutting-edge technologies -- nanotechnology, coal with carbon capture and sequestration, biomimicry -- building codes seem downright stodgy and, dare I say it?, boring. Yet, much to the surprise of many, building codes are fast becoming the Titans in the battle against climate change. Able to fell with a single blow the giants on the other side of the battlefield -- out-of-control greenhouse-gas emissions, thoughtless energy consumption, and gross energy inefficiency -- building codes are beginning to look pretty darn sexy in their own right.

The 2030 Blueprint

Solving climate change can save billions, boost the economy, and create jobs

A new report from Architecture2030 shows that solving the climate change crisis can save billions of dollars, stimulate a deteriorating U.S. economy, and create high quality jobs (full report here). Complex problems sometimes require the simplest of solutions. One of the most important questions facing those attempting to solve the climate crisis is, "How do we reduce CO2 emissions dramatically and immediately?" The simplest answer is, "Turn off the coal plants." Although coal produces about half of the energy supplied by the electric power sector, it is responsible for 81% of the sector's CO2 emissions. According to recent paper by Dr. James Hansen et al., titled "Target CO2: Where Should Humanity Aim?" (PDF), if we are to have any chance of averting a climatic catastrophe, we must implement an immediate moratorium on the construction of any new conventional coal-fired power plants and complete a phasing out of all existing conventional coal plants by the year 2030. Anything short of this will fail (call Congress on Earth Day, April 22nd, supporting the Markey Waxman bill and a moratorium on coal). To turn off the coal plants, one must replace them with another energy source and/or eliminate the demand for the energy produced by these plants. And the economic feasibility of any proposed actions regarding climate change is a particularly important consideration in this time of looming recession. Today, of the approximately 38.5 QBtu of primary energy consumed by residential and commercial building operations in the U.S. each year, 27.3 QBtu is consumed in the form of electricity. About 14.2 QBtu of this electricity is produced by conventional coal-fired power plants. According to a recent McKinsey Global Institute report, the implementation of straightforward, off-the-shelf residential and commercial building efficiency measures would reduce energy consumption by 11.1 QBtu for an investment of $21.6 billion per QBtu.