Architecture 2030 CEO Vincent Martinez spoke with AECCafe Voice this week about the recent partnership between IFC, a member of the World Bank Group and Architecture 2030, to support the international architecture and building community in the design of zero net carbon (ZNC) buildings.
IFC’s EDGE green building team is aligned well with Architecture 2030’s vision to “rapidly transform the global built environment from the major contributor of greenhouse gas emissions to a central part of the solution to the climate crisis.”
IFC is a global development finance institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. Their EDGE program offers a measurable solution proving the financial case for green building. Included in EDGE is a green building certification system with free software.
IFC and Architecture 2030 have been collaborating for four or five years, strategizing to share knowledge and support one another’s efforts in sustainable design efforts.
What are the agenda items that brought IFC and Architecture 2030 together?
There are a number of things. At the Paris Climate negotiation, we respected each other’s work, and looked for a place to collaborate. One of the core opportunities that drove the timeframe of the announcement is Architecture 2030 has been working with the design community internationally and those working specifically in China with their Local Design Institutes (LDI) which are essentially architecture firms in Chinam We have a relationship with a local organization there that has designers are members of an organization similar to AIA in the U.S. but slightly different because the AIA has individual members and this organization has firm members. It is more similar to a large firm roundtable in the US.
We’ve been working with them for the last few years on reaching carbon neutral and near-carbon neutral developments in China to address the massive amounts of new development happening in that country. Roughly 36% of all development globally is going to be happening there so it’s important because the international firms are only able to take projects so far, so it’s critical that the local design institutes have a broad understanding and commitments to carbon neutral design.
About 2 ½ years ago, 52 international firms made a declaration called the China Accord and since then an additional 7 firms have signed on to that. It’s been a wonderful commitment by the Chinese design community. In the fall, we held a forum for that community to establish how we would get there. The goal was for China to focus on carbon buildings rather than energy buildings because of the massive amount of urban development and high-rise development there. This requires additional procurement of renewable energy or we wouldn’t be able to reach energy standards on many of these projects. Another goal was to focus on education so we put together a training with a number of firms coming from the U.S. to speak to designers. The Chinese firms are very interested in how the standards integrate with both the government projects and performance standards. Our partners IFC have focused on China as well to try and get their standards and certifications evolved. They have done a lot of great development on baselines for the projects with focus on building types.
The EDGE platform was only set up to recognize a 20% reduction in baselines: energy, water and materials. What we wanted was a tool for the LDI that could demonstrate their commitment to carbon design so that’s the addition of those metrics of carbon collecting, accounting, and standards to the existing consumption patterns, city-based climate and cost data and algorithms for a variety of building types in 131 countries. We worked on this topic specifically with the LDIs but it applies broadly as they are also in India and other emerging markets. EDGE will be a dominant platform for those professionals designing those countries and be recognized for using that standards. That was one of the main drivers.
The second driver is that in the past ten years since the 2030 Challenge was adopted, the AIA have developed their own program, the American Institute of Architects’ 2030 Commitment. The AIA also supports the use of EDGE baselines by encouraging signatories of the 2030 Commitment to use the EDGE software when benchmarking international projects. There has always been a question about how do we baseline projects outside the U.S. where we had a good robust dataset and understanding about where we should set the starting line. EDGE had already done all that research, and some of those countries have baselines directed to code development. Architecture 2030 will incorporate EDGE baselines into its Zero Tool, which is used by architects to estimate building fossil fuel energy consumption baselines and targets.
Was the EDGE tool created for developing countries?
Yes. EDGE was developed by IFC for developing countries to create an easy market mechanism for them to recognize green building performance. Both the application and certification can all be done with an app within an online platform but also provides a design focus rather than as a series of checklists of other aspects of the buildings. It is really designed to help those countries demonstrate compliance so it’s meant to be easy and quick to use.
This year we came on to help them with app market adoption. They only require 20% reduction in energy, because there is so much development. They only require 20% reduction in water and 20% reduction in carbon emissions from materials. Architecture 2030 are focusing on the right-hand side of the bell curve, pushing the envelope for 70% reductions not 20, and we have a carbon standard. We asked EDGE to incorporate to the net carbon forum. The announcement is about the revamp of their platform to account for the high performers seeking an extremely high and aggressive approach, rather than the 20% that they currently have in their platform.
Is IFC voluntary?
Yes. And it is only for international developing markets. There are already a lot of rating and standards.
EDGE is trying to tackle the broad base of addressing it at a large scale. It’s like any other green building rating system that’s voluntary, in some countries it’s engrained with political organizations or standards organization where it is used for a portion of code or completely for the code. They’re in 131 countries so each is slightly different.
In some cases, NGOs use EDGE to try to promote in those countries, so there might be a green building council in some of those countries that would promote multiple rating systems like LEED and Green Globe and EDGE and in certain cases the GBCs are not rating system focused. This would be another tool.
EDGE is also limited to six different building types. Many green building systems apply to a larger number of building types. It is focused on single family homes, hotels, retail office and hospitals.
It’s a powerful tool. Usually in the U.S. we have statistical databases that will tell us how much energy an office building in a certain area and certain size, will use and its energy consumption. But very rarely does it break down energy end uses as EDGE does.
How does EDGE compare to Sefaira and other tools on the market for analyzing energy consumption and type?
They’re very different, they both have design tool aspects to them. EDGE has a complementary rating system beyond just the design guidance but they’re really structured and have different focuses. Sefaira or Autodesk 360 are comparative design tools that will give you some numbers you can take back to your design engineer. They’re designed to be used for comparing different themes, such as the law ratio of the design, different massing sequences, and not to necessarily be predictive but to be comparative.
I think you could say the same thing for EDGE. It’s not really meant to be predictive either. It provides a rough estimation of where the performance would be if you applied certain strategies. EDGE is very clear on what the strategies are. Sefaira and Autodesk 360 are agnostic in their strategy, for example, here’s the design what kind of performance would I expect compared to different design strategies if I applied them. They have integrated our 2030 Palette which is an online design guidance encyclopedia, for form based design strategy into some of those softwares like Sefaira and Autodesk 360 so you can have a good sense of what’s available to you. Whether its south facing or solar shading for windows, or passive cooling for ventilation, the Palette gives you some examples of how you might approach it. And then the Sefaira and 360 tool would apply that.
In the near future, Architecture 2030 will incorporate the EDGE baselines into its Zero Tool, which is used by architects to estimate building fossil fuel energy consumption baselines and targets.