The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has set an ambitious goal of zero net energy for all new residential construction projects in California by 2020 and for all new commercial projects by 2030. The CPUC is looking to the utilities to create strategies to implement these goals.
To facilitate deeper engagement with our utility partners, AIACC recently participated in an advisory panel to assist PG&E’s Pacific Energy Center to explore creating a multi-level architecture/integrated design curriculum responding to the priorities of the California Long-term Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan and the California Workforce Education and Training Needs Assessment for Energy Efficiency, Distributed Generation, and Demand Response.
The advisory panel included building science and energy efficiency experts, principals from California architecture and engineering firms, and individuals involved in education and training programs at various California utilities.
PG&E’s goal is to create an integrated design curriculum that could eventually serve as a model for a ‘low energy building design’ certification program for architects and designers. Because the integrated design curriculum, its implementation, and its goals are still in the formative stages, the AIACC’s participation is critical to help create a strong, practical, and reasonable curriculum that meets the needs of practitioners and practice. Participation in this process demonstrates how architects can participate in the energy conservation discussion as advocates, both in the building industry and beyond.
In spite of California’s long history as a leader in energy efficiency; it remains the 12th largest emitter of carbon in the world. Nearly every state agency is dedicated to reducing energy consumption and curbing climate change on some level, through energy efficiency policies, research, new building standards, green purchasing, improvement of air quality and reduction of other environmental toxins, consumer incentive plans, and public awareness programs.
The effect of climate change has an impact on every industry today, but perhaps none more so than the building industry. According to some studies, more than half of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. result from buildings and their construction. This includes energy used in the production and transportation of materials to building construction sites, as well as the energy used to operate buildings. Countless studies have demonstrated that significant savings can be derived from green buildings, including the reduction of energy, water, and waste; lower operations and maintenance costs; and enhanced user productivity, morale, and wellness.
Clearly there are many opportunities for architects to participate as a group and as individuals with these transformations that are affecting our world. Architects have the creative vision, the collaborative nature, and the planning tools that make them uniquely qualified to assist cities, counties, the state, developers and other clients, allied building industry groups, and the myriad other organizations who are grappling with these issues.