Energy guru Ed Mazria is making his second appearance at UCSB this Monday, January 26, to talk about the intersection of climate change, energy, and the building sector, and how each one influences the other. But this time, the architect that other architects listen to, as do planners and politicians, also has something to say about the new Obama administration and what aggressive federal actions it will take to slow down and eventually stop human-induced climate change.
In a recent phone interview between meetings at his busy office in New Mexico, Mazria explained how he evolved into a green architect. “I was an architect first. Then, back in the ’70s, there was the first energy crisis, and at that time I started teaching about energy and design,” Mazria said. “As part of teaching I also began doing quite a bit of research on solar design and energy conception and knew that I must implement in practice those strategies I was teaching.”
Through his research on energy consumption in the building sector, Mazria and his team determined that the industry was responsible for 50 percent of all energy consumed and guzzled 76 percent of all electricity generated in the United States. “These are very, very large numbers. The building industry is responsible for half of all greenhouse gas emission in the U.S.,” Mazria added. When his research produced these numbers, Mazria said, his team began asking, “How do we address these issues?”
Mazria owned and operated his own architectural firm for nearly 40 years, with energy efficiency becoming an increasingly important component as his practice developed. Two years ago, he closed his office to establish his nonprofit, Architecture 2030, and devote his time to moving the building industry down a greener path. The 2030 Challenge was a call to the building community, asking businesses to adhere to specific guidelines that not only limit energy use during construction, but dictate the creation of building designs that will run on minimal amounts of energy. The eventual goal is for building to be carbon-neutral by the year 2030. In addition, the nonprofit has established smaller goals along the way, the first being to cut 60 percent of carbon emissions produced per each building constructed by 2010.
So far Mazria says the response from the industry has been positive, as evidenced by the long list of architectural firms, universities, corporations, building businesses such as Home Depot, and governments that have agreed to take on the 2030 Challenge-including Santa Barbara, the first city in the nation to do so. “They are ‘adopters,’ meaning they try to put the targets into their practice,” said Mazria. “So teachers teach it, and architects adopt design targets,” he explained. Mazria added that he believes the whole country’s mentality is shifting towards a more sustainable direction, but that the question now becomes, “Are we going to be aggressive enough to make the changes that are necessary in the next few years to keep our planet habitable?”
Mazria will speak for free at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, January 26, at Campbell Hall. Visit UCSB Arts and Lectures for more information.