You know those TV ads that promote “clean” coal, “responsible” natural gas fracking, and “sustainable” oil drilling in the Arctic?
Edward Mazria loves those ads. Not because he buys their rhetoric (in fact, just the opposite), but because they indicate to him that a sea change is under way regarding the environmental impact of the built world, and that his work as the initiator of the Architecture 2030 movement is having an effect.
“The fossil fuel industry is waging a huge battle to avoid being phased out,” he says. “There’s always resistance to earthshaking change, and opposition validates that a transformation is going on.”
But not fast enough for Mazria. While more and more people from the Building Sector are getting on board and the “train has left the station,” he is not yet sure if we’re on the local or the express. “We’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go,” he says. “The question is, are we moving fast enough?”
To move it along and, as he says, “push the ball downfield,” Mazria and his team at Architecture 2030 based in Santa Fe, N.M., have broadened their scope to include and support opportunities to bring information to the Building Sector about carbon neutral design solutions.
Piloted in Seattle, the AIA+2030 Series of professional courses led by regional and local experts has attracted capacity crowds and spread to 19 cities across the United States to proliferate the gospel of zero-carbon buildings and impart the tools to achieve it; Architecture 2030, with numerous partners, also has inspired “2030 Districts”—entire sections of cities committed to reducing their carbon footprint and exploring alternatives to fossil fuels—and sparked spin-offs to look more closely at the manufacture and environmental operating and maintenance costs of specific building products and systems.
“Every program we have is geared to educating the Building Sector,” says Francesca Desmarais, who heads up the firm’s 2030 Challenge for Products initiative to reduce the embodied energy of building materials. “We are driving change while responding to sector demands,” as evidenced by the popularity of the AIA+2030 Series and initiatives taken by local collaborations to put them into action.
That dynamic gives Mazria no doubt that at some point (hopefully soon), his colleagues in the design realm will overtake Architecture 2030’s efforts and drive the transformation exponentially. “You don’t have to convince them to do the right thing,” he says. “You just have to show them what the issues and problems are and they’ll set to work solving them. It’s what they do.”
As for those TV ads, Mazria says keep ’em coming. “The Building Sector sees through the smoke screens put out by the opposition,” he says. “It is moving aggressively to meet its responsibilities.”