Decoding Design

Architect Edward Mazria awarded for greener building efforts

Architect Edward Mazria awarded for greener building efforts

Posting in Architecture

Veteran architect Edward Mazria is pushing younger designers to integrate carbon-neutral building operation into their work through Architecture 2030.

When it comes to bold ideas and action, young upstarts get a lot of ink. But there's a massive brain trust among the retired and close-to-retired set, which is why Civic Ventures, a think tank focused on the work of baby boomers pursuing "encore careers," gives the annual $100,000 Purpose Prize to leaders of a certain age.

This year one of the five recipients is architect Edward Mazria, a 71-year-old architect that launched Architecture 2030, a set of voluntary targets designed to reduce the amount of energy used and greenhouse gasses emitted by new buildings and major renovations so that, by 2030, they will be carbon neutral. In other words, their operation will not contribute to the building sector's greenhouse gas emissions.

How? Through better building design that focuses on efficiency, plus onsite renewable energy generation, plus renewable feedstock into grid energy.

This might seem like a no-brainer now, but Mazria is one of the original brains behind the net-zero building concept. The epiphany that jump-started Architecture 2030 was Mazria's 2003 discovery that the building sector accounts for nearly half of all energy production, but the foundational work behind his late-career focus was laid out in a book he penned much earlier.

His 1979 book “The Passive Solar Energy Book” has sold a half-million copies worldwide and considered a seminal tome in green building.

While that gave his message and mission a real backbone, it didn't ensure it would stick. But Mazria has kept up the drumbeat and it appears that these voluntary benchmarks are, at the very list, being given a wider platform.

The American Institute of Architects, the U.S. Green Building Council, the National Governors Association, the U.S. Conference of Mayors and a number of major architecture, engineering, and planning firms -- including ARUP, Perkins+Will, Jacobs, HKS, and HOK -- have taken up the challenge.

Mazria will use the Purpose Prize to help further fund and grow the Architecture 2030 initiative.

This PBS video is a few years old, but it's a great overview of the Architecture 2030 project.

[via Forbes.com]

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Mary Catherine O'Connor

Contributing Writer

Mary Catherine O'Connor has written for Outside, Fast Company, Wired.com, Smithsonian.com, Entrepreneur, Earth2Tech.com, Earth Island Journal and The Magazine. She is based in San Francisco. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure