Recent Report Shows Building Decarbonization Successes

May 25, 2023 / Architect

The building sector has grown alongside energy sector consumption and CO2 emissions since the Industrial Revolution. Each year, we add billions of square feet in building stock, and those buildings needed energy.

  • Since 2005, the carbon intensity of the entire U.S. building stock (CO2 emissions per sf of floor area) declined by 39.8% for residential buildings and 43.7% for commercial buildings.
  • From 2005 to 2022, the U.S. added 62.5 billion sf to its building stock, but building sector operating energy consumption did not increase (it decreased by 3.5%) and CO2 emissions declined 28.4%.
  • From 2010 to 2022, residential and commercial building energy consumers saved approximately $530 billion compared to the energy costs initially forecast in 2010.
  • More than 70% of all electricity in the U.S. is destined for building operations, but renewable electricity generation is growing exponentially. That increase, coupled with low-to-zero carbon design and planning; new federal climate programs and incentives; local governments advancing electrification and clean power plans; and zero carbon standards for new buildings and major renovations puts us on track to meet or exceed a 50% building sector CO2 reduction by 2030.

Understanding the outsize contribution that buildings and the built environment make to greenhouse gas emissions—building materials, construction, and sitework can account for as much as 50% of the carbon footprint of new buildings over their lifespan—158 of the 196 parties to the Paris Agreement now include buildings in their emissions reduction targets. Fortunately, new design, planning strategies, and calculation tools—such as EC3, Carbon Smart Materials Palette, Pathfinder, Tally, CARE Tool, EPIC, and One Click LCA—are gaining popularity.

Read More

Climate Positive Design at GGLO

The places and spaces we design will be climate positive by 2030. The beautiful spaces GGLO designs will withstand the test of time with a better than net zero embodied and operational carbon content to contribute back to the environment. As an early signatory to the AIA 2030 Commitment, we have implemented sustainable design practices towards this goal since 2010, with deeper roots in sustainable design since our founding.

Healthy communities also means designing with healthy and low toxic interior and exterior materials and systems for the benefit of users, builders, and beneficiaries of those spaces and places. We continue to research review, measure, adopt and improve performance-based design practices rooted in data. We are committed to creating healthy communities for all.

Read More