CTA IN THE NEWS: 7 Ways Architects Can Work Toward Carbon Neutral Buildings by 2030

By: Travis Estvold
25 May 2017
The above image is of the Visitor Center at Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge in Alamo, NV. The CTA-designed facility is rated better than Zero Net Energy (ZNE), pushing back to the grid nearly as much energy as it uses.

Featuring input from three CTA team members, an article originally published on Autodesk’s Redshift publication as “7 Tactics for Meeting the Architecture 2030 Challenge and Beyond” was also recently picked up by archdaily.com:

As the impacts of global climate change escalate, forward-thinking architecture firms have committed to being part of the solution. Increasingly, these firms are signing on to the 2030 Challenge and American Institute of Architects’ supporting initiative, AIA 2030 Commitment, which provide a framework to reduce fossil-fuel dependence and make all buildings, developments, and major renovations carbon neutral by 2030.

The 2030 Challenge has been adopted by 80 percent of the top 10 and 65 percent of the top 20 architecture, engineering, and planning firms in the United States, as well as many state and local government agencies. Among these are Eskew+Dumez+Ripple (EDR), a New Orleans–based architecture and planning firm; HOK, a global design, architecture, engineering, and planning firm; and CTA Architects Engineers, an integrated design, engineering, and architecture firm with offices throughout the Western United States and Canada. Here, five professionals from EDR, HOK, and CTA [Ashleigh Powell, Richard Dykstra, and Tim Johnson] share seven key tactics they’ve employed to move toward the 2030 target — and a sustainable future for the planet.

1. Innovate Across the Portfolio

All three architecture firms stress the importance of raising the bar for energy efficiency across a company’s entire portfolio of projects. That approach underpins every effort they make toward achieving the 2030 Challenge.

“We don’t want to just target the projects that have high sustainability goals,” says Jacob Dunn, an architect at EDR. “We are really interested in raising the entire bar for the middle of the distribution of projects.”

2. Set Energy-Use Targets Early

“We talk about the 2030 Commitment during the marketing phase and set targets and benchmarks during conceptual design,” says Anica Landreneau, director of sustainable design with HOK.

Ashleigh Powell, a sustainability director at CTA, adds that establishing Energy Use Intensity (EUI) targets at the beginning of a project creates a different way of thinking for designers and sets them up for success.

And Landreneau’s team gets buy-in from clients. “We find that when the client is part of that discussion, everyone works toward that target,” she says. “People forget that it wasn’t mandatory or contractually obligated. They just keep working toward it.”

3. Model Early and Often

According to Richard Dykstra, a BPA specialist at CTA, modeling can help internal teams communicate better. “We start early on with all the teams—architecture, engineering, construction, and the owners—to figure out what the goal is,” he says. “Then we play around with different models to figure out what has an impact on that goal and what doesn’t. We use that to inform the design early on. Then we bring everyone together regularly, running simulations and architectural design side by side.”

There can also be financial benefits to early modeling for first cost (the sum of initial expenditures on a building project). “If you don’t do the model early enough, you lose the opportunity to find trade-offs where you can come in with a high-performance design that is first-cost neutral or even [yields] first-cost savings,” Landreneau says.

Continue the article on ArchDaily.

“Whether you believe climate change science or are dismissive, it is hard for anyone to argue against the benefits of reduced energy consumption. Energy modeling is an important tool through which we achieve a more energy efficient and sustainable built environment.”

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