2030 Challenge Accepted: What Does it Mean, Why Does it Matter?

by: Evan Needman

by: Evan Needman

Architecture and a sustainable future go hand in hand. When we accepted the challenge in 2006, we agreed to meet benchmark reductions in energy consumption by buildings, resulting in carbon-neutral designs by the year 2030. Our goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions attributed to building operations.

With the help of the AIA 2030 Design Data Exchange online reporting platform, recording, reporting, and visualizing local and national progress has never been easier.

Our clients receive the benefits of our leadership in sustainable design.

Inspired by the challenge, we blazed a trail when we become the architect of the Ecoworks project, the first LEED Certified speculative office building in the United States located in Lenexa, KS. Many of our projects have taken advantage of solar and wind power, geothermal heating, energy efficient glazing and more. We celebrate that heritage every day by favoring design solutions that conserve energy and improve building performance.

An important watershed opportunity for building renovation and new construction is happening right now.

In the year 2035, approximately 75% of America’s buildings will have been renovated or newly constructed in the 25 years leading to that date. Right now, building operations such as heating, cooling, and lighting, total nearly 75 percent of US electricity consumption and contribute over 40% of carbon emissions in the United States. Our clients have the greatest opportunity to change these numbers and reduce carbon emissions, while slashing the inherent costs of outdated, inefficient buildings by incorporating techniques outlined in the AIA 2030 Challenge.

from left: Evan Needham, Kirk Gastinger, Samantha McCloud

from left: Evan Needham, Kirk Gastinger, Samantha McCloud

ECOWORKS: The first LEED Certified speculative office space in the United States.

ECOWORKS: The first LEED Certified speculative office space in the United States.


One reason to design green, is the green.

Over the last five years, innovations in sustainable technology, such as photovoltaics (solar Panels), have reduced the cost of products. Incentives such as utility rebates and tax credits have shortened the payback period of these systems.

The improved ROI of green technologies have allowed many of our clients to reach and exceed their operations and maintenance goals. Sustainable certifications include LEED, Energy Star, and “Carbon Neutral”. These designations are excellent marketing opportunities that clients may incorporate into their brand or product identity.

We explore sustainable solutions with clients throughout the design process.

Decisions made early in our design process, known as passive design strategies, can make the greatest impact in reducing operating costs through the entire life of the building or space. The simple alignment or position of a building, the use of efficient or renewable material, and even the shape of the building can help with a building’s efficiency.

Clients joining us on this 2030 design challenge have and will discover the financial benefit of incorporating sustainable principles and technology into the buildings they construct or operate.