Sam Rodell Architects AIA's Climate Action Contribution
About Sam Rodell Architects AIA's Climate Efforts
The built environment is responsible for 75% of annual global greenhouse gas emissions: buildings alone account for 39%. Eliminating these emissions is the key to addressing climate change and meeting Paris Climate Agreement targets.
The American Institute of Architects 2030 Commitment sets a goal for all new buildings, developments, and renovations to be carbon-neutral by 2030.
architecture2030.org issued the '2030 Challenge' asking the global architecture and building community to adopt the following targets:
All new buildings, developments and major renovations shall be designed to meet a fossil fuel, greenhouse gas (GHG) emitting energy consumption performance standard of 70% below the regional (or country) average/median for that building type.
At a minimum, an equal amount of existing building area shall be renovated annually to meet a fossil fuel, GHG emitting energy consumption performance standard of 70% of the regional (or country) average/median for that building type.
The fossil fuel reduction standard for all new buildings and major renovations shall be increased to:
80% Carbon neutral in 2020
90% Carbon neutral in 2025
100% Carbon neutral in 2030 (using no fossil fuel GHG emitting energy to operate).
These targets may be met by implementing innovative sustainable design strategies, generating on-site renewable energy, and/or purchasing (20% maximum) off-site renewable energy.
Sam Rodell Architects is an American Institute of Architects 2030 Signatory Firm. As the data we have documented with the AIA shows, all the residential and commercial projects active in our office in 2018 substantially exceed the goals stipulated by the 2030 challenge (the average overall reduction across our portfolio was 85%). The most significant contributing factor is our consistent adoption of the German Passive House technologies in our projects to provide our clients with dramatically enhanced comfort, quality, and economy. To keep pace with the steadily increasing demands of the challenge, we are continuing to pursue innovative design research in all aspects of our architecture.
We build more environmentally responsible architecture without compromising beauty, comfort, or joy. Our clients enjoy ownership of properties that are both healthy and more economical to own, as each of the projects below demonstrate. (Follow the link to view graphic.)
Climate Action Commitments
Current Climate Actions Sam Rodell Architects AIA Is Taking:
Commit to Reduce Short-lived Climate Pollutant Emissions
Short-lived climate pollutants—such as black carbon, methane, tropospheric ozone, and hydrofluorocarbons—are powerful climate warmers many times more potent than CO2 over their lifetimes. Because they are short-lived in the atmosphere, actions to reduce these super pollutants can have substantial, near-term climate, agricultural and health benefits and are an essential complement to CO2 reduction strategies. Policy-makers can announce regulatory or voluntary approaches to drastically reduce SLCPs, such as developing methane strategies or adopting rules on use of warming HFCs. Organizations can commit to engage with suppliers to provide training, conduct pollutant inventories, and establish systems for tracking, measuring, and monitoring these types of emissions. Analysis shows that SLCP emissions can be cost-effectively reduced by an estimated 40-50 percent by 2030.
Policymakers, companies and organizations are encouraged to accept the #SLCPChallenge of the U.S. Climate Alliance, which calls for ambitious action on SLCPs. Feel free to elaborate on your work towards reduction, along with your other efforts, in the "Other Commitments" field below.
Commit to Remove Commodity-driven Deforestation from Supply Chains
Restoring our forest’s ability to store carbon on a global scale is a critical and cost-effective climate mitigation solution. Making a commitment to eliminate deforestation means setting targets to assure key commodities in your supply chain (like palm, soy, beef, paper and pulp) are from deforestation-free sources. An ideal target could be to establish a disclosure and reporting plan for your supply chain and/or conversion to 100% deforestation-free commodities by 2020.
Commit to Responsible Engagement in Climate Policy
While individual organization action is necessary, local and federal government action is also needed to reach global climate goals. Your organization can have a critical voice in advancing public policy. A commitment to responsible engagement in climate policy means that your organization commits to supporting public policy to: promote energy efficiency and renewable energy; increase investment in a clean energy economy; support climate change adaptation, or put a price on carbon.
Commit to Building Climate Resilience in your Community
By committing to adapt to the impacts of a changing climate, companies and institutions can secure their operations and supply chains and conserve natural resources that are stressed due to climate change. While there is much a business can do within their community, primary among these options is reducing water usage. Organizations can commit to increase their own water security through a range of actions, including installing water-saving devices, capturing rainwater for onsite uses, and recycling grey water. Or just commit to get engaged with your community in resilience planning.
Commit to Increase Your Use of Renewable Power
Increasing your percentage of renewable energy sources is a key component of reducing overall GHG emissions. Installing onsite renewable generation, like solar panels, is a good long-term strategy if possible. But renewable energy can also be procured through Renewable Energy Credits (RECs), renewable power purchasing agreements (PPAs), and in some locations from retail electricity providers or local utilities that offers a high percentage of renewable power. Also consider becoming an EPA Green Power Partner.
Commit to Increase Energy Efficiency
Most companies begin by assessing energy usage or performing an energy audit to identify opportunities to increase energy efficiency throughout their facilities and operations. Energy reduction targets can be framed as either absolute reductions or reductions that are normalized per unit of production, such as per tons shipped, per dollars of revenue produced, or other relevant business metric. Some examples of commitments that can be taken include:
- Conducting an energy audit or request a meeting with your building owner to explore scheduling an audit
- Upgrading HVAC system to a more efficient model
- Upgrading lights in your office/facility to LEDs
- Upgrading insulation and windows
- Replacing appliances in your office with Energy Star-rated models
- Instituting a company policy of turning off lights other electronics when not in use.
Commit to Understand and Reduce Your Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Understanding your GHG emissions is the first step to making measurable reductions in those emissions. The EPA provides an overview report and CoolClimate Network provides a simple tool for “low emitters” to better understand sources of emissions, as well as how to use that information to set reduction targets. For this commitment, it is as simple as committing to complete a greenhouse gas inventory for your business or oganization, but in the future your inventory can be used to make a commitment to set a specific goal, such as “reduce GHG emissions by 50% by 2025.
Integrate Climate Change into Portfolio Analyses and Decision-Making
Commit to integrate climate change-related risks and opportunities in portfolio analysis and decision-making processes through one or more of the following:
- Analyzing and assessing climate change-related risks and opportunities (e.g. through carbon footprinting, scenario analysis).
- Making commitments and setting targets (e.g. to carbon footprint reduction, to enhanced portfolio resilience, to decarbonization, including via the Portfolio Decarbonization Coalition).
- Investing in low carbon investment funds and other products (e.g. low carbon indices, climate-aligned bonds).
New Climate Actions Sam Rodell Architects AIA Commits To Take:
Commit to Reduce Climate Impacts of Packaging and Reducing Waste
There are many ways to reduce the climate impact of packaging including reducing materials (i.e., “source reduction”); replacing virgin materials with post-consumer recycled content; replacing traditional plastics made from fossil fuels with biopolymers; re-designing packaging to be more compact and therefore efficient for transport and storage; using biodegradable packing materials; and recycling at end of the packaging’s life to name just a few practices.
Commit to Reducing the Climate Impact of Your Transportation
Organizations making a commitment to reduce the climate impact of transportation should consider practices such as measuring transportation greenhouse gas emissions and setting reduction targets, switching fuels, optimizing the efficiency of shipping operations, and reducing transit- and travel-related greenhouse gas emissions. Businesses can develop a green transportation action plan to map the movement of goods to market and identify opportunities to increase efficiency. Organizations can buy hybrid and electric vehicles within their own fleet, and can reduce the footprint of their workforce through incentivizing public transportation, installing EV charging stations, promoting telework, and locating near transit centers.
Commit to the Natural and Working Lands Challenge
The natural systems upon which we depend are essential to life and critical for reducing the impacts of climate change on our communities. These systems are also under threat from human activity and climate change. Maintaining the resilience of natural and working lands is an important part of any GHG emission reduction strategy. It is also important to securing the well-being of communities, economies and ecosystems. Actions that secure and enhance the “carbon base,” such as land conservation, restoration, and improved management, also support watersheds and food systems, improve air quality, protect against urban heat islands and sea level rise, and preserve the beauty and function of natural areas and parks. Those that accept the NWL Challenge should commit to securing natural and working lands as a resilient net sink of carbon. This will take different forms for different actors. For example, local, sub-national and national jurisdictions might take a broad approach like that of the U.S. Climate Alliance. Landowners and managers may wish to focus on restoration and implementing climate-smart practices on their own lands. Businesses may look at their supply chains and customers as potential partners, and incorporate natural and working goals into their own climate change commitments and strategies.
The U.S. Climate Alliance States commit to taking actions that will reduce GHG emissions and increase carbon sequestration in forests, farms, rangelands, wetlands and urban greenspace, and integrating these pathways into state GHG mitigation plans by 2020. The Natural and Working Lands Challenge calls on other states, cities, nations, tribes, businesses and others to make the same commitment within their organizations. Feel free to elaborate on your work towards this challenge, along with your other efforts, in the "Other Commitments" field below.
Areas For Collaboration
We are interested in collaborating on the following:
- Encouraging more aggressive state energy efficiency policies
- Improving efficiency in existing buildings through real estate transactions
- Supporting building thermal decarbonization and electrification
- Aggregating demand for electric vehicles with other actors
- Encouraging more aggressive state targets for electric vehicles and GHG standards
- Promoting increased charging infrastructure
- Collaborate on climate and clean energy action, and to advocate for stronger climate policy at the local level
- Aggregating demand for renewable energy with other actors
- Encouraging more aggressive state renewable energy policies
- Supporting states, cities, and utilities in decarbonizing their energy supply