Roadmap for Developing Low-carbon Buildings and Cities in the United States by 2050

By Thomas Spiegelhalter.

Published by The International Journal of the Constructed Environment

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Article: Electronic $US5.00

The lifestyle of Americans and the resources used in the country has led to the highest emitters of greenhouse gases (GHG): 20, 2 metric tons per person per capita in 2008. This includes land use changes and international bunkers of CO₂e trading. On Nov. 25, 2009, the White House announced during the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen that their goal by 2050 is to reduce GHG’s emissions by 83%. Currently, buildings are responsible for 48% of all GHG emissions and 78% of electricity consumption in the U.S. According to the AIA’s (American Institute of Architects) 2030 Agenda, all new buildings need to be carbon neutral in 2030. However, only several local projects are achieving the AIA 2030 goals. Since GHG emissions and climate change are caused at an ever increasing speed, it is overdue for a paradigm shift in the way the U.S. is locally performing in education, in design and planning, and in global resource use measuring. Another challenge is how the U.S., who has approximately 81.4% of the population living in low density areas with only 31 people per km², can reduce GHG’s, despite expected population and land use growth without having to compromise on living standards or risking a slowdown in economic growth. The author will examine if the United States is able to reduce resources used in buildings and cities using nationwide energy-saving models. These renovations would have to include sustainable lifestyles and consumer rituals as part of a new low carbon society. This article investigates how the U.S. can achieve their goals of carbon neutrality from buildings in 2030 and reduce GHG’s emissions by 2050.

Keywords: Carbon-Neutral, Greenhouse Gas Emmissions, AIA Agenda 2030, Energy Saving, Sustainability

The International Journal of the Constructed Environment, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp.225-246. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 17.444MB).

Prof. Thomas Spiegelhalter

Professor and Co-Director, Environmental Technology Lab, Area of Sustainability and Design, Environmental Systems, Advanced Systems Integration, Florida International University, Miami, Florida, USA

Thomas Spiegelhalter has realized research demonstration work in Europe and the US in numerous contextual, solar, zero-fossil-energy, and low-energy building realizations projects; large-scale sustainability master planning, and redevelopment projects for abandoned post-industrial sites. Many of his completed projects have been published in International anthologies such in “Contemporary European Architects, Volume V,” 1997, Building a New Millennium 1999–2000, both Benedict Taschen Publisher, in “Solar Architecture for Europe, Publisher Birkhäuser,” 1996, in “The Architectural Review,” on “Ecology and Architecture,” in 1998, in “Architectural Record-” DESIGN VANGUARD AWARD 2003 or in the monograph “Adaptable Technologies-Le tecnologie adattabili nelle architetture di Thomas Spiegelhalter” by Angeli Publisher, Rome, in 2008. Spiegelhalter includes in his master planning, research, and consultation projects multiple sustainability measurement criteria systems such as the ISO 9000/14000 standards, IEA Solar City, the European Building Energy Performance Certificate Methodology, the World GBC, CASBEE, DNGB, Energy Star, Cascadia, and the USGBC LEED rating systems. Since 1990, he has worked with numerous EU and US Universities to research on multi-disciplinary ecological engineering projects. As a result of his 20 years of design and built work, professional consulting, awarded research, teaching, Spiegelhalter has received 54 prizes, awards, and honors in European and US sustainability competitions.