by Kelly Pickard
Chair, AIA Sustainable Operations Task Force
This week, the editors of the Kiplinger Letter talk about new technology that they say will make coal into a clean fuel alternative by stripping out the pollutants before the purified fuel is fed into turbine-turning burners. They say this will make even high-sulfur coal into a low-emission generator of power, giving us abundant domestic power until solar, wind, geothermal, and other non-hydrocarbon sources can be brought online by 2030.
Coal continues to be a dirty word to most advocates of reduced carbon emissions. The notion of high-sulfur coal as a clean source of fuel is about as credible to one side of the environmentalism debate as the notion of human-caused global warming is to the other.
This comes at a time when the President Bush, on May 31, announced a new direction. He wishes to initiate talks with the 15 nations that account for 80 percent of the world’s carbon emissions, he has said. (Take note: the mere connection of carbon emissions to global warming is a major new twist in Administration policy.)
Are these moves ahead or sideways with regard to the AIA’s stated goal of zero carbon emissions from new buildings and major renovations by 2030? The president promises a move forward, but with talks that wouldn’t start for at least 10 years. Even more encouraging, then, are the 522 U.S. mayors who have agreed to adhere to the Kyoto Standards in their own municipalities. Moreover, working with the AIA last year, the U.S. Conference of Mayors agreed to support the even more aggressive 2030 Challenge.
Here at the AIA national component headquarters, we have created a task force to examine resource efficiency locally—within this building. We will be considering everything from super-insulation, shading systems, and operable windows to geothermal, solar, and water reclamation. And we are committed to targets consistent with the 2030 Challenge.
Technology will be part of the solution to maintaining a livable ecosystem. (Maybe clean coal will be a reality.) Equally important is self-discipline. And in that regard, AIA architects have been in the lead.
There is no magic bullet. Rebalancing Earth’s eco-librium will take hard work. We believe that by starting now, with specific target goals, the long-term benefits will be well worth the effort.
What do you think?