Friday, February 16, 2007

Federal Government Must Lead The Way to More Energy Efficient Buildings

. Friday, February 16, 2007

AIA President RK Stewart, FAIA, called on Congress this week to take the lead in the fight against global warming by establishing new energy consumption standards for federal buildings.

AIA President RK Stewart, FAIA, second from left, testifies February 12 before a congressional subcommittee on energy efficiency.

In testimony February 12 before a subcommittee of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Stewart said buildings are the most overlooked sector in the greenhouse gas debate. “The building sector alone accounts for 39 percent of total U.S. energy consumption, more than either the transportation or industry sectors. Buildings consume 71 percent of the U.S. electricity production, and buildings in the United States account for 9.8 percent of the carbon dioxide production emissions worldwide,” Stewart told the Energy Subcommittee, chaired by Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND).

“As Congress has jurisdiction over all federal buildings, Congress can literally show the way for the private sector to attain energy consumption reductions by the built environment,” Stewart added. “The AIA believes strongly that now is the time to act to address climate change by tackling energy use in buildings. Our nation needs to begin making significant reductions in the amount of fossil-fuel generated energy our buildings consume.”

To that end, Stewart said, “The AIA recommends that federal agencies be required to immediately ensure that new buildings and buildings undergoing major renovations consume no more than half the fossil fuel energy that a similar federal building consumed in 2003.”

Stewart asked lawmakers to pass a combination of regulations and incentives to reduce fossil fuel generation and improve energy efficiency. Noting the AIA’s official position on establishing energy reduction targets in buildings, Stewart promoted the 2030 Challenge: by 2010, new and significantly renovated federal buildings be required to reduce fossil fuel generated energy by 60 percent; by 2015, by 70 percent; and continuing until 2030, when a 100 percent reduction in fossil fuel generated energy in all new federal buildings would be achieved.

Stewart told the senators and the packed committee room that architects across the country have embraced the 2030 Challenge and are expanding the use of design practices that enhance design quality as they increase the environmental performance of buildings. He offered that clients are often concerned about “first costs,” but in testimony and in response to a question from subcommittee ranking Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) reiterated that the payback is when the “long-tem tale of the building is written.”

Dorgan thanked Stewart for his contributions to the conversation and called the architects’ views “a very important perspective.”

Stewart submitted written testimony on behalf of the AIA. Read it on the Subcommittee on Energy: Energy Efficiency Programs' Web site or view the archived Web cast.