Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Pay the Piper

This country has a global carbon debt in its consumption footprint that comes to about 150% of biocapacity, which clearly requires a rapid reduction in carbon emissions that is critical to achieving the balance in global ecology. The goal of achieving this Net Zero by 2030 is within reach, according to Architecture 2030. This is due to the response by the building industry of coalescing around the target of integrating natural processes into the structures and projects themselves, and abandoning fossil fuels.

The 2030 Challenge, shown here as a graph,was established in response to the climate change crisis by architect Edward Mazria in 2002. It was a recognition that the industry had no other option but to transform itself from a consumption model to a regenerative model, given the realities of climate change. This effort, among many models for reducing emissions and generation of local power sources, has been the underlying motivating force for the creation of the new model energy codes. It's anticipated the development of these codes because of the public policy established at the Federal level in October of 2009,when a commitment to utilize green technologies and alternative energy was made by President Barack Obama who issued the Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy and Economic Performance Executive Order, setting sustainable goals for federal agencies, and also announced a $3.4 billion investment in a smart energy grid.

As a result, the military - including the Army - has established a net zero goal by 2030. Many cities and local regional planning entities have also moved ahead with their own planning models to achieve the reduction of their carbon footprint at the urban scale. Chicago's Decarbonization Plan is one of them. San Francisco has also made an early start in the regional planning game with its approach to "the Precautionary Principle" as a legitimate basis for making environmental decisions.

While the building industry, the government and many environmental groups are moving as quickly as they are able towards the Net Zero goal, we see at the global climate summits that even this goal will not be enough. Our country, because of its massive emissions over the last century, will owe the world's people a tremendous level of support in the reduction of global consumption and providing the necessary carbon sink through exerting its global influence. That's when our bill comes due.