The IGCC essentially takes voluntary rating systems such as LEED and Green Globe together with industry best practices and crafts it into regulations aimed at building energy and sustainability performance. After the implementation of the IGCC via local construction codes it will be interesting to see if more buildings will become LEED-certified since building owners and designers will be mandated to follow a process similar to the rating system, or whether there will be less demand for LEED certification since most buildings will have to follow similar mandates anyway.
2. The Architecture 2030 Challenge
Architecture 2030 is a non-profit, non-partisan and independent organization with support from and coordination with AIA, ASHRAE, IES, USGBC, the U.S. Department of Energy and many other groups and associations. The 2030 Challenge establishes a goal of "zero net energy" buildings by the year 2030. The agreement specified energy performance targets beginning with an immediate reduction of 50 percent in energy use for all new buildings.
This target increases rapidly with a 60 percent reduction in 2010, adding an additional 10 percent reduction every five years, until carbon neutral buildings are the norm by 2030. While nothing here is mandated, you have the major industry groups (AIA, ASHRAE, USGBC, IES the U.S. government) involved and committed, with their membership of architects and engineers adhering and designing to the policies and initiatives of their organizations.
3. President's Climate Commitment
This is a more narrow initiative and an example of executive policy that will impact energy performance in a particular sector, in this case higher education. It is a program American university and college presidents started in 2006 that "recognizes the need to reduce the global emission of greenhouse gases by 80 percent by mid-century at the latest."
Their commitment is fairly broad; new construction meeting a minimum of LEED Silver certification, purchasing appliances that are Energy Star certified, offsetting the greenhouse gas emission of travel, promoting public transportation and participating in waste minimization. The final commitment is probably the most difficult: Purchasing or producing 15 percent of the institution's electric consumption from renewable sources. While none of this is mandatory, it does set policy for building energy performance higher education institutions.
It All Adds Up to Net-Zero Buildings
The end game of all these mandates, policies and initiatives -- and the severe reduction of building energy consumption -- is to demonstrate net-zero buildings (however defined) by 2025, followed by substantial deployment of such buildings by 2030, all done in concert with substantial use of renewable energy.
Institutions such as the U.S. Department of Energy and ASHRAE are supporting the effort with ASHRAE developing the tools necessary to design, build and operate net-zero energy buildings. Overall, the current number of net-zero buildings is minimal, many are associated with environmental or academic organizations not commercial buildings, and the square footage of the average net zero facility is relatively small.
The challenge of drastic reductions of building energy consumption and widespread deployment of net zero buildings is similar to the goal of landing a man on the Moon that was made 49 years ago; it has broad support, there is awareness that not all the technologies required are developed or even identified, there's a huge need and opportunity for innovative engineering, and there are eventual benefits to economies and to the world in general.
In many ways, though, the challenge for building energy performance is much more difficult than the moon shot; rather than one focused government agency leading the effort, reducing energy consumption in buildings will involve millions of individuals. The goals have been set and the bar is high, as we enter a transitional period where voluntary actions related to building energy performance will soon be mandatory.
Photo CC-licensed by Zoramite.