Biggest contributor to greenhouse gases? Buildings

Architect is honored for his work to persuade his peers to design buildings that use less energy and are kinder to the environment.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Nov 9, 2011 12:33PM

Twenty-three years after he published the definitive book on passive solar design, architect Edward Mazria made a startling discovery: Buildings and construction generate almost 50% of the greenhouse gases in the United States.

Determined to change that, he gave up his architecture practice in Santa Fe, N.M., and started Architecture 2030, challenging his fellow architects to use their power to reduce the built environment's contribution to greenhouse-gas emissions dramatically.


For his work, Mazria, 70, was one of five Americans to receive the 2011 Purpose Prize, given to five Americans over 60 who are changing the world. The prize comes with a $100,000 award.

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Credit: © Civic Ventures. Used by permission. All rights reserved."Every time we design a building, we set up its energy-consumption pattern and its greenhouse-gas emissions pattern for the next 50-100 years," Mazria said to Worldchanging, explaining how architects can make a difference – and quickly – on greenhouse gases. 


Mazria has enlisted the American Institute of Architects, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the U.S. Green Building Council and the National Governors Association in his crusade and is continuing to spread the word about how much design matters in energy conservation.

Mazria spent much of his architectural career working on green design and sustainable projects, but until 2002 he didn't do that math. Using Energy Department, he calculated contributions to greenhouse gases another way and discovered that the built environment was responsible for nearly half of emissions, far more than the auto industry.

"Architects — and the government tends to forget this — specify every single material that goes into a building, from faucets to paint to carpet to wall materials to finishes to windows to roofing," he said in Metropolis Mag in 2003.


"Architects have the ability to change entire industries with the stroke of a pen. If we specify a material with low carbon-dioxide emissions in its fabrication — say, floor tile, carpet, gypsum board — industry will respond. This is the American way. Architects are consumers; they’re not always aware of the incredible power they have to change the way products are manufactured."

Nov 9, 2011 8:56PM
Has anyone noticed how brown it is north and west of China and China is turning brown too.
Nov 9, 2011 8:54PM
There you go, if Government had heated it's buildings with solar/geothermal energy by ordering $500 million worth instead of just giving it to them, Solandra would be a thriving corp and the world would be greener.  And the Government knows what it is doing !  Not.
Nov 9, 2011 8:07PM
lets see more people, more animals, more floods, hurricanes, tornados, earth quakes, volcanos, cars, trucks, trains, rotting trash, timber, sounds just lke the natural process of Mother Earth doing her thing. I have to wonder how we made it this far before we had all these so called experts guessing at what the cause is. I can't imagine anyone taking stock in anything that Al Gore might spout from his pie hole. We are no more than a grain of sand in a wind storm and we will no matter all our silly worry go where the wind blows, so I would suggest that all focus on the serious and real issues in our lives. Happy Trails children!
Nov 9, 2011 7:14PM
Since we can't control the ocean, it only makes sense to pay attention to the things we do have the potential to control.  The fact that someone will not believe in global warming, does not change the fact that it is happening.  Almost every one will agree that a lot of the cause is natural, therefore, out of our control. Ignoring the human contribution to the problem is stupid.  Even if Mr. Gore is wrong,  the results of following good environmental practices is clean air and healthier living conditions. On the other hand, if he is right the results will be devastating. Can you say "no brainer"? 
Nov 9, 2011 6:54PM
Im going into the hothouse tomato business.
Nov 9, 2011 6:04PM
Dzynrbob wrote: "The biggest contributor to greenhouse gases such as co2 is  the Ocean. Always has been."  Yep, and the warmer the oceans get, the more CO2 they release into the atmosphere.  Rising CO2 levels are not the cause of global warming, but an effect of global warming caused by the sun.  Al Gore needs a brain transplant.
Nov 9, 2011 5:26PM
Green House Gas caused by hot air Palosi ,Reid,obama,Clinton, Cain ,Gore,and many others.....
Nov 9, 2011 4:33PM
we can live comfortably and still leave a decent planet for our kids- learn to know when enough is enough and listen to facts instead of emotions
Nov 9, 2011 3:55PM
It's all the hot air arising from the lefties
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