Top Misconceptions About the Architecture 2030 Challenge

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February 15th, 2021

We recently held a live panel webinar discussion addressing actionable ways architects can build Architecture 2030 goals into their small, medium, and large firm workflows. The Architecture 2030 challenge is an initiative to make all new buildings, developments, and renovations carbon neutral by the year 2030. As more and more architects across the profession learn about this challenge, there are many misconceptions about what this commitment means; how to get involved; and how to effectively achieve these goals.

Here are the top four most common myths about the Architecture 2030 challenge you need to know:

1.    “It costs money to sign up for the commitment.”

The 2030 commitment is completely free. To join, you simply fill out basic information about your firm through the 2030 DDx and upload a commitment letter signed by your firm’s leadership. The American Institute of Architects (AIA)  also requires firms to create a Sustainability Action plan within six months of signing up to develop a solid strategy for your firm.

2.   “I’ll get into legal issues revealing information about my projects.”

In 2014, the AIA started a data collection effort called the Design Data Exchange or DDx to record the progress firms made to reach the 2030 commitment. Some architects are concerned about reporting their projects on the DDx in fear of revealing sensitive information about the projects their working on, especially if the project isn’t performing where they think it should be or where other projects and firms are.

Internally, you may use your project numbers and project names to help identify what your reporting, but when you report this information to AIA, it is all anonymized. There is no issue of comparison between firms or sharing proprietary information about your client’s projects.

3.   “100% of my projects must be reported and meet all percent reductions.”
The challenge to reach zero carbon by 2030 seems like a massive goal to achieve, and there is the perception that you may come up short. People who are developing and designing projects obviously want success, but the idea that they must meet these targets perfectly for every project simply isn’t true.

The purpose of the AIA Architecture 2030 commitment is not to pass judgement or rank projects or firms on how well (or not so well) they are meeting these goals. It is all about getting started. The idea is to learn where you are and put in the work to continuously improve. In this process, everyone learns and grows both internally as a team as well as from other firms within the 2030 community. It is all about progressing together.

4.   “2030 Data Collection is extremely time consuming.”

We can all agree design teams and project managers have a lot on their plates and adding the process of 2030 data collection on top of this sounds like a tedious and time-consuming endeavor. However, this process is actually very simple and easy, taking about 5-10 minutes for firms to complete. You are essentially taking 5-6 numbers from the design of the project, including the square footage and predictive EUI, and uploading it to the DDx. This helps AIA measure the progress of this initiative as a whole and provides participating firms with the data they need to make intelligent design decisions to reach the 2030 targets.

If you’d like to learn more about the Architecture 2030 Challenge, download our recorded webinar, “Building Architecture 2030 Goals into Small, Medium, and Large Firm Workflows.”


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