Friday, July 31, 2020

Energy Flows

Online expanded view of this chart that tracks energy from its source to its consumption. Further discussion and breakdown is here.

It's not hard to drive fossil fuels out of the US economy, quickly. The US has everything it needs to decarbonize by 2035. A World War II mobilization will be necessary for the US to decarbonize its economy fast enough to avert the worst of climate change. To do its part in limiting global temperature rise to between 1.5° and 2° Celsius, the US must reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 at the latest. Despite the titanic effort it would take to decarbonize, the US doesn’t need any new technologies and it doesn’t require any grand national sacrifice. All it needs, in this view, is a serious commitment to building the necessary machines and creating a regulatory and policy environment that supports their rapid deployment. A key component of this strategy is the electrification of the power grid and integration of this energy supply with the existing grid. Solar power and wind power are the prime sources of energy, especially with the continuing improvement of battery storage technologies that are part of a more advanced distributed power model. 

 The time for climate discussion has passed. Architects are taking action. The American Institue of Architects (AIA) has developed a landmark initiative to take on climate action for all. From advocating for public policy, to supporting renewable energy use in buildings, from reducing carbon emissions through building design and informed product selection, to spurring energy efficient renovations and designing for natural hazard risk – America’s architects have a leading role to play in humanity’s collective call to climate action.

The kickoff event for this nationwide push to decarbonize the construction sector was held in Los Angeles last March, and the efforts to educate the profession are underway by the AIA. In the very near future, building codes will be adopted that are based upon the ZERO code template for structures, since the AIA is interfacing with the various code agencies. 

Architecture 2030 has worked with the U.S. House of Representatives and sent them the ZERO Code and talked to them about existing buildings point of sale and emissions reduction mandates. They were given quite a bit of building sector information. Adopting a zero carbon building code today, but no later than 2030, made it into the policy recommendations, and more importantly into the 2021 IECC code as an Appendix, which means it can be used with any year of the IECC code. The availability of the IECC Appendix, and national and international ZERO Code, means that any city or jurisdiction in the world can implement policies to ensure that all new buildings are designed and built to zero carbon standards. The AIA was incredibly influential and helpful with these developments. Anica Landreneau of HOK and Carl Elefante, past president of the AIA, both testified in the House. Anika was on the IECC code committee and strongly supported the adoption of the Zero Code. The AIA is reorienting their organization’s resources to address climate change.