The race to 2030

By Sara R. Boyer AIA posted 03-29-2019 13:02


By Allen Schaffer, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP BD+C, WELL AP, LBC AMBASSADOR and Lindsey Freel

Allen Schaffer (left) and Lindsey Freel (right)


AIA 2030 Commitment, the challenge, and DDX

The AIA 2030 Commitment helps to provide a collective framework and metrics to benchmark our movement towards a common goal for a carbon neutral future. 2018 marks the third year Moody Nolan has reported to the commitment, recording data for nearly 300 projects. {Editor's note: The AIA 2030 Commitment is to encourage architects to meet the target energy reduction goals of Architecture 2030's 2030  Challenge.] The AIA Design Data Exchange (DDX) enables efficient analysis of our entire portfolio, allowing for continuous evaluation and evolution of strategy further informed by the lessons learned on individual projects. Since our first year participating in the AIA 2030 Commitment, these shifts in strategy have resulted in a 7% improvement in our average EUI. The DDX provides a means to compare performance internally as well with our peers which provides a basis of discussion for how to continue to improve and advance collectively.


Advancing the energy code

We are only beginning to be able to draw comparisons related to the advancement of ASHRAE Standard 90.1. The stringency of the new standard is best illustrated by the recent completion of two nearly identical projects designed by our team, one certified with LEEDv2009 and the other with LEEDv4, achieved an energy cost savings of 46.8% and 23.4% respectively, with the only difference reflecting the advancement of energy code.

As peers continue to reinforce the importance of energy modeling in the design process, our Sustainable Design Leadership Team has increased investment in early energy analysis. Passive strategies for energy savings are best identified in these earliest stages, placing a reliance on early, conceptual and iterative energy analysis by the design team. Separate from a "true" energy model, this early analysis involves educating our teams to define baseline metrics and leverage new tools to inform decision-making. More than a shift in design process, this embodies a cultural shift in the way we are accustomed to working. Increased collaboration among local and regional firms and the introduction of third-party certification credits driving integrative processes has helped streamline some of the challenges associated with the 2030 goals, but we have found many still exist with regards to defining project scope, fee, and collaboration amongst all parties.

Our teams are also working to identify which tools and methods are most effective for particular sets of constraints. For example, early energy analysis is most effective when there is control over site selection, orientation, or form, but in many of our projects these elements are predetermined and inflexible. A framework to best guide our team as to which strategies are most impactful in specific scenarios would allow us to efficiently analyze our designs and create sustainable impact on all projects.

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Cities and institutions leading advancement

As the private sector continues to invest in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Environmental Social Governance (ESG), major companies are beginning to partner with the public sector to drive the goals of the 2030 Challenge. 2030 Districts have helped define local and regional climate change action plans, fuel investment in green infrastructure, and most importantly, bring stakeholders together to drive sustainable growth. Colleges and universities are joining these forces, adopting their own green building standards and mandating new investments pursue third-party certification. As a result, Requests for Proposals are defining increasingly aggressive Energy Use Intensity (EUI) and Water Use Intensity (WUI) targets while also asking more complex questions associated sustainability, health and wellness. These proposals are reinforcing the investment in our firm on sustainable design education and resources.



Allen Schaffer, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP BD+C, WELL AP, LBC AMBASSADOR is a Principal and the Director of Sustainable Design at Moody Nolan.  Allen can be reached at or (614) 461-4664.  Lindsey Freel is the Sustainable Design Facilitator at Moody Nolan and can be reached at or (614) 461-4664.


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