The Committee on the Environment (COTE®) is an AIA Knowledge Community working for architects, allied professionals, and the public to achieve climate action and climate justice through design. We believe that design excellence is the foundation of a healthy, sustainable, and equitable future. Our work promotes design strategies that empower all AIA members to realize the best social and environmental outcomes with the clients and the communities they serve.Enjoy our latest on COTE news (and follow us on X and LinkedIn). To learn about the Framework for Design Excellence (formerly the COTE Top Ten Measures), click here.Check out COTE's history and timeline. Starting a local COTE or sustainability group and need some guidance? Check out the AIA COTE Network Guide here.A big thank you to our partners: Founding partner: Building GreenPremier partners: Sherwin-WilliamsSustaining partners: GAF Roofing, Milliken, ROCKWOOL, Andersen WindowsGreen partners: EPIC Metals, Compass DatacentersAllied partners: TLC Engineering, Sierra Pacific Windows
Achieving a carbon neutral built environment by 2030 is only possible through tracking and measuring our progress. The 2030 Commitment is a free, voluntary AIA program that assists firms in aligning their goals and culture to support the Architecture 2030 Challenge – for all new buildings to be carbon neutral by 2030. The program's mission is to transform the practice of architecture in a way that is holistic, firm-wide, project-based, and data-driven. Over the last decade, the hundreds of firms who have signed on so far have made a sizable impact on carbon emissions in the United States. This year, the 2030 Commitment has made several enhancements that maintain the program vision of Zero Net Carbon (ZNC) and keep it accessible for all building types in any climate zone.
2030 signatory firms track performance data for all projects in their portfolio that are in an active design phase, with the goal of meeting the 2030 Challenge fossil fuel reduction targets. Firms track their progress towards these goals using the Design Data Exchange (DDx), a reporting and research tool providing designers with valuable feedback to enhance the performance of their designs and provide value to clients. This month, the AIA launched a new version of the DDx, which simplifies the reporting process to save you time. Now even the busiest person – from a firm of any size – can efficiently enter data, visualize their portfolio, and compare progress to other signatories around the world.
Track fossil fuels and renewables
The new DDx streamlines the reporting process for firms and includes essential updates to the program to address the stepped reduction target increase. In 2020, the program's reduction targets have increased, from 70% reduction from a baseline building performance, to 80%. This expected change was established at the beginning of the program, leading to 90% reduction in 2025, and 100% in 2030. The program's metrics have been based on predicted energy use intensity (pEUI), which relies on efficiency and on-site renewable energy.
This current 80% reduction target based on this metric can be very difficult especially for urban, dense projects or project typologies with very high energy loads, such as labs and hospitals, who can't produce on-site renewable energy to offset the energy consumed over the period of a year, even if the building is very energy efficient. Therefore, the DDx now incorporates off-site renewable energy options as a means to achieve the program targets – while keeping design and efficiency at the center of the work for architects.
Additionally, the program has evolved to address the goal to reduce fossil fuel combustion in buildings. On- and off-site renewables may only be used to offset grid electrical energy use. If gas is used in a building design, that energy and those emissions cannot be offset with renewable energy. Therefore, the new DDx is structured to make this technical distinction clearer.
Track embodied carbon
The ability to track and report embodied carbon is now included in the DDx as well. Designing for low embodied carbon is just as important (and for some project types in certain locations, more important) than low operational carbon. Many firms have started performing lifecycle analysis on their projects to understand embodied carbon impacts. While embodied carbon is not formally wrapped into the AIA 2030 Commitment's target, the DDx now enables firms to track that information and endeavor to show improvement year after year across their entire portfolio of projects. These enhancements are consistent with Architecture 2030's Challenge for Embodied Carbon, which is to achieve 65% reduction by 2030.
Learn more about the new DDx
The AIA will be hosting demo sessions that will walk you through the major features of the new DDx -- from creating an account and joining a company to setting a baseline and entering your project energy data--with plenty of time to answer your questions! You can register for the session that fits your availability best using the links below:
Wednesday October 28, 1-2pm EST
Thursday November 12, 1-2pm EST
To learn more about their impact signatory firms are making, read this year's 2030 By the Numbers report.-Gwen Fuertes, AIA is co-chair of the AIA 2030 Commitment working group. She is an Associate at Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects in San Francisco, and as an architect with a building science background, she leads the firm's efforts to achieve high-performance, human-centered designs.Tate Walker, AIA is co-chair of the AIA 2030 Commitment working group. the Director of Sustainability at OPN Architects and leads projects and initiatives across the firm. His experience is rooted in the architectural design process, but includes program and project management, and the development of technical guidelines for high performing buildings. In 2018, Tate co-authored the COTE Toolkit, which assembles best practices, exemplary projects, metrics, and research to support the design of beautiful, high performing buildings.
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