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Why Aren't There More Energy-Efficient Buildings?

Data from an initiative to make architecture more sustainable shows progress, but there’s still a long way to go to make a dent in climate-change risks.
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Nicola Bertolini /

For the fifth year running, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has crunched the numbers on its national sustainability challenge, the AIA 2030 Commitment. Architects who sign up pledge to strive to meet an ambitious energy-efficiency target in their designs—a 60 percent reduction in predicted energy-use intensity (pEUI, or the amount of energy they expect their buildings to use) from baseline levels. A report on the program issued Thursday shows mixed results.

The good news is that more architects are taking the oath to design sustainably, and a whole lot more of the total building square footage now being planned is intended to be highly energy efficient.