building a sustainable and resilient community

The AIA Awards and Carbon Neutrality

Posted on | September 13, 2009 | No Comments

The American Institute of Architects, or the AIA, is the national association for professional architects in the United States.  Each year, local chapters of the AIA give out awards to projects or firms in their jurisdiction for exemplary design.  Well, MOST of the chapters give out awards for exemplary design.  Yet another reason why I admire Portland so much is because their AIA design awards are given out both for excellent design AS WELL AS a carbon dioxide metrics calculation.  They began this practice in 2007, and by next year, in 2010, they will begin requiring a specific target emission reduction to be eligible for the awards.  In their words:

Nationally, the AIA has adopted the Architecture 2030 Challenge and is committed to developing and promoting the means to reach at least a 50% carbon emission reduction by 2010 and carbon neutral buildings by 2030.  As stated in the AIA SustAIAnability 2030 program, “This exciting challenge offers many opportunities for integrated, high-performance, environmentally-conscious buildings that will become valued assets for future generations.”

So, from my perspective this is pretty much awesome. Because it means that it’s getting the best designers in the city to recognize that in order to have a really great building, you need to have a great design AND be environmentally sound as well.  And AIA Portland is helping out, by providing all applicants for the awards with the following 2009 Carbon Calculator.  It’s a simple Excel spreadsheet that requires a few inputs to yield your building’s percentage of carbon emissions, which compare to baseline numbers that you determine by filling out the Energy Star Target Finder.  It may seem like a lot of numbers but frankly designers need to become more familiar with these processes… finding your building’s carbon emissions, and then figuring out how to reduce them, is going to be absolutely key if we are going to fight global warming!



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