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AIA Report: Mixed results in design projects meeting 2030 Commitment targets

More buildings are meeting certain goals, but energy intensity reduction results have flat lined

October 06, 2016 |

Photo: Wayne National Forest, flickr Creative Commons

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has produced a report assessing the work of firms that are part of the AIA 2030 Commitment, a voluntary initiative to commit their practice to advancing the AIA’s goal of carbon-neutral buildings by the year 2030 that began reporting performance data in 2010.

The program has seen the number of buildings included in the report increase, but significant strides in crucial metrics used to predict building performance have been MIA. “These findings should serve as a wake-up call to architects that there needs to be greater urgency to drive improved energy efficiency across their project portfolios if we are going to reach our ultimate carbon reduction goals,” says Greg Mella, FAIA, Director of Sustainable Design at SmithGroupJJR and co-chair of the AIA 2030 Working Group, in a press release.

Highlights from the AIA 2030 Commitment: 2015 Progress Report include:


  • 152 firms submitted reports – a 9% increase from 2014
  • 2.6 billion gross square feet (GSF) represented in this data – a 8% increase
  • 5,982 whole building projects have been accounted for in this report – a 37% increase
  • 4,461 interiors only projects reported – a 16% increase
  • 614 design projects are meeting the 60% energy reduction target – a 42% increase
  • 38% average Predicted Energy Use Intensity reduction reported by firms – an increase of 1%
  • 10% of total GSF meeting the previous 60% carbon reduction target – a decrease of 4%
  • 4% of total GSF meeting the new 70% carbon reduction target
  • 59% of total GSF using energy modeling to predict operational energy consumption – a 9% increase


Energy savings for the projects accounted for in the report is equivalent to about 21 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. To put that into perspective, that is akin to powering 2.2 million homes for a year or running 6 coal-fired power plants.

2015 was the first year that firms used the new 2030 Design Data Exchange interactive tool that enables design teams to benchmark and target energy performance through a range of analytical aids to drive improved energy efficiency. Users of this tool are reporting that the ability to see immediate results on how their projects are performing has facilitated benchmarking and started conversations about efficiency options earlier in the design process. This has afforded them more ability to understand how the buildings will perform against baseline energy use.

For additional resources for architecture firms to develop greater high-performance building practices, click here.

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