Congress will soon consider the Waxman-Markey bill on establishing a cap and trade system for carbon dioxide emissions. The cap is the legal limit of the greenhouse gas that can be emitted into a region. The trade is among emitters that have emission permits. The debate is about whether it works and, if so, how it should be implemented.
The theory is that putting a monetary value to reducing emissions will stimulate innovation in the reduction of emissions. Whether a reduction to 83 percent of the 2005 level by 2020 (the stated goal of the Waxman-Markey bill) will have any real effect on global warming is one point of contention in the debate, especially given the generally accepted forecast that it will be consumers who foot the bill. Another is whether, initially, the permits should be auctioned or given away free, how they should be apportioned, and how those apportionments might be adjusted over time.
As Congress moves ahead on this legislation, involved AIA members and staff will work to educate policymakers about the role of architects and buildings in greening the economy. With buildings currently accounting for nearly half the carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S., there is vast potential in the AIA 2030 Commitment to make significant reductions in greenhouse gases.