Monday, May 16, 2011

Legislating Zero

A special report from the Architecture 2030 organization notes that a bi-partisan congressional effort reestablishes the 2030 Challenge targets in the US Senate:

The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2011 was introduced on May 13, 2011 by Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). The bill places meeting the 2030 Challenge target of zero-net-energy for new buildings by 2030 as the first item in a comprehensive strategy for U.S. energy reductions in the building and industrial sectors. Specifically, Sec. 101 of the legislation, Greater Energy Efficiency in Building Codes, directs the Secretary of Energy to “establish targets for specific years” with each target “higher than the preceding target” on a “path to achieving zero-net-energy” by the year 2030.

The baselines for incremental updates of the codes are the 2009 IECC for residential buildings and ASHRAE Standard 90.1–2010 for commercial buildings. The first code update, the 2012 IECC, which will be released in about a month, meets the initial 50% reduction target of the 2030 Challenge.The 2030 Challenge has been included in numerous other federal, state, and local pieces of legislation. This most recent bill offers another opportunity for the U.S. to realize the energy reduction targets of the 2030 Challenge.

This legislation is an example of the needed "third leg" of the implementation of zero-carbon existence in American culture, the other two being the net-zero industry benchmarks as was laid out in my last post, and the actual change in the supply chain for materials and labor that result in the complete reduction of carbon emissions.

The impetus for this has come from the architecture and engineering profession for decades now, and on Thursday May 12, a keynote speech by New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman, addressing a capacity crowd during the opening-day session of the AIA National Convention in New Orleans, warned that Americans need to change their values and embrace a green global ecosystem to ward off a truly cataclysmic future. He is a Pulitzer Prize winning author in the fields of economics and US foreign policy.

The 2011 AIA Conference is dubbed "Regional Design Revolution: Ecology Matters". This signals a call for a major turning point in US public policy, which must now move from its thrall to old polluting industries to the clean, regenerative energies that flow with natural processes. No longer can the US simply pig out on cheap, destructive oil and extractive fuels while destroying global ecosystems and bringing on the climate change that is wreaking havoc around the planet, in addition to triggering destructive wars in order to capture other countries' resources for corporate profiteers.

And the students have something to say about THAT, as well. It's their future now, as well as their challenge.