The AIA 2030 Commitment: Cards on the Table

I started this blog about a year ago to tell the story of my architecture firm (Bergmeyer) and our adventures in fulfilling the first-year reporting obligations of the AIA 2030 Commitment: the AIA program created to help firms meet the carbon emission goals of the 2030 Challenge. I bravely intended to report on both our accomplishments and our struggles. I have also tried to tell the human-interest side of the story while doing my best to translate dense, technical jargon into simple English. It’s been fun, but it’s now time to put our cards on the table.

Our AIA 2030 Year 1 is in the books. The numbers have been crunched. And no surprise, there are tales to tell.

The AIA 2030 Commitment asks you to categorize your projects as either “whole building” or “interiors only”, and gives different comparison metrics for each category. For whole-building projects, our firm’s aggregate pEUI (predicted Energy Use Intensity) was 15% better than the average used for comparison. For interiors-only projects, our aggregate lighting power density was 19.5% better than average.

How does that stack up? Pull out your copy of the AIA 2030 Commitment Second Annual Report and follow along.

Compared to the rest of the 104 firms that reported in 2011, our 15% better-than-average for whole-building projects put us back in the pack. The average pEUI reduction reported by AIA member firms was 34.6%.  We had several building projects that were between 35% and 40% better than average, but they were relatively smaller buildings. And (like most firms) we were not very close to the AIA’s targeted 60% pEUI reduction. But still. “Just meet the code” was a standard that we regularly exceeded.

On the other hand, we did great with our interiors-only jobs. Our aggregate 19.5% reduction was right on pace with the rest of the reporting firms and pretty close to the AIA’s lighting power reduction target of 25%.

But the really big news is this: Bergmeyer now has a baseline. A starting point. A foothold. A stake in the ground. A spreadsheet of the designed Energy Use Intensity for every project we had “on the drawing boards” (how’s that for a dusty old anachronism!) in 2011. For a data geek like me, that’s huge. What would YOU give to have info like that at your fingertips, hm? We can now do some serious analytics.

In gross square feet terms, interiors-only projects were 65% of our design work. And that’s also where our energy efficiency improvements were strongest. Our office interior jobs were real standouts: one relatively large project clocked in with a LPD of only 0.67 watts per square foot, 33% better than the ASHRAE comparison standard of 1 W/SF. And we designed a couple branch banks that squeaked by at a sweet 0.52 watts per square foot. But a few of our retail projects were energy-use outliers. One was as high as 4 watts per square foot! Apparently, the store fixture lighting was not required to be included in tenant energy use calculations for permitting purposes. When we do our AIA 2030 calcs, we (ever so conscientiously) measure ALL the lighting we design, so clearly there’s room for improvement here.

I could keep going with the analyses: pEUI broken down by client, by project type, by location. Each sort would tell us something new. But basically that’s the story for today. The reporting obligations have been met. This blog’s mission has been accomplished . . . or has it?

All along, the real goal of this blog has been to get more firms from my AIA Chapter – the Boston Society of Architects – to sign the Commitment. And despite the recent news that two fabulous local firms (Leers Weinzapfel Associates and Ann Beha Architects) are among the latest to join, we still have many minds to change.

And there are big unanswered questions. Now that we have a baseline, how do we institutionalize improvement? How can we apply what we’ve learned and make our Year 2 numbers better? And will we dumpster-dive again this year? It seems like we still haven’t found what we’re looking for. We’ve only just begun. Every day is a winding road. You probably get the point.

Maybe I’ll keep writing . . .

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4 Comments on “The AIA 2030 Commitment: Cards on the Table”

  1. From the Carpenters to Sheryl Crow…

  2. Peter Papesch, AIA, chair, BSA Sustainability Education says:

    Great new blog, dear Pied Piper! 😉


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