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AIA 2030

AIA's 2030 Challenge: A Look at its Impact and Leading Firms

By Maria Saxton Ph.D.
Jan 10, 2020

Responsible for 75% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, the built environment needs to be designed more efficiently. With 2.5 trillion gross square feet of new construction estimated by 2060, now more than ever, the architecture world is in a unique position to create a monumental impact in the built environment. 

In 2006, Architecture 2030 introduced The American Institute of Architects (AIA) 2030 Challenge to push the international architecture community to reduce their environmental impact with the goal of carbon-neutral new construction, major renovations, and development projects by 2030. Multiple design firms have joined the AIA 2030 effort to make their portfolios carbon-neutral in the next ten years. 

Architecture 2030 is a non-profit organization that was established in 2002. Its mission is to reduce the environmental impact of the built environment to help address the climate crisis. Firms can meet these goals by implementing innovative, sustainable designs into their projects, generating renewable energy on-site, or purchasing off-site renewable energy. 

AIA 2030’s Impact on a Global Scale 

The 2030 Challenge has made great strides towards its goals. In 2018 alone, 252 firms contributed data to the 2030 Commitment’s Design Data Exchange (DDx). Their projects avoided the use of 17.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions and saved over $3.3 billion in operating costs. 

To put these savings into perspective, these savings are equal to: 

  • The reduction of 3.7 million vehicle emissions for one year 
  • 20.8 million acres of forest-equivalent carbon sequestration 
  • The electricity required to power 3 million homes 

AIA 2030 Residential Impacts: Part of discussing AIA’s 2030 Commitment is looking at potential energy savings on an individual homeowner level. 

While many projects in the AIA 2030 Commitment were non-residential projects, in the U.S. alone, 1,539 projects reported energy savings within the guidelines of the challenge. 

In one year, a home that follows the design parameters for the 2030 challenge could yield the following savings: 

  • ~22.6 megawatt-hours (MWh)
  • ~$2,050 in energy cost savings 
  • ~9 metric tons of CO2

It’s important to note that these savings can be achieved in various climate zones.

A Closer Look at Firms Participating in the 2030 Commitment 

Since its inception in 2006, the AIA 2030 challenge has been adopted by globally-leading firms.

The standardized metrics and reporting formats have made it easy for many firms to jump on board. The majority of participating firms in the AIA 2030 Commitment are located in the United States, closely followed by Canada. Here we will discuss a handful of leading firms in both the United States and Canada that have taken this pledge and why homeowners might want to consider them for new construction and renovation projects. AIA’s 2018 annual report lists all 252 firms that provided data for the AIA 2030 Commitment. 

zeroenergy design
LEED Platinum Residence by ZeroEnergy DESIGN

ZeroEnergy DESIGN

ZeroEnergy DESIGN

It may come to no surprise that a company with “zero energy” in its name was a top performer in 2018 for the AIA 2030 challenge. ZeroEnergy Design is a U.S.-based residential firm that specializes in green architecture and mechanical design. They design homes that can meet energy performance certification targets such as Passive House, Net Zero Energy, Net Positive Energy, and Zero Fossil Fuel Consumption.

ZeroEnergy DESIGN has a very comprehensive approach to each project, including a significant focus on sustainability. Specifically, they target energy, air quality, water, maintenance, and durability. 

Their residential portfolio is unique in that it shares the annual energy savings and any certifications for each project. A few examples of their work include a LEED Platinum house in Massachusetts, a certified Passive House in Vermont, and a net-zero home in Maryland. 

DIALOG architects
Mixed-use residential development by DIALOG



In 2017, one of Canada’s top firms, DIALOG, joined the 2030 commitment. While DIALOG is a Canada-based architecture and engineering firm, they do work in both Canada and the United States. Shortly after joining, they formed a team of sustainability experts to work towards these goals. Their recent projects include an office for Canada’s Green Building Council and an Energy Centre for the University of British Columbia’s campus. While their featured projects focus on commercial buildings, DIALOG’s services include home design and construction. 

DIALOG has partnered with Community Forests International (CFI) to save an at-risk forest to off-set DIALOG’s operational environmental impact. By saving a forest, DIALOG can both achieve carbon neutrality and support a forest restoration process.

X House by Snow Kreilich Architects
X House by Snow Kreilich Architects

Snow Kreilich Architects

Snow Kreilich Architects

The recipient of the 2018 AIA reward, Snow Kreilich Architects as a U.S.-based architecture firm that seems to design buildings of all types: cultural, educational, public, retail and restaurants, workplaces, and of course, residential. They have an impressive portfolio of residential projects that have been built in both the United States and Canada. 

payette architects
Amherst College by Payette



The U.S.-based company Payette was recognized in 2019 as an award winner for their work. While Payette primarily focuses on academic and healthcare buildings, they are certainly worth mentioning for their cutting-edge work in the architecture field and a multitude of awards for their work. Every single project of the firm works to meet the goals of AIA’s 2030 Commitment. In addition, their firm focuses on professional development and pro bono work.

BPX Energy by Stantec
BPX Energy by Stantec



Stantec is a globally-leading architecture and engineering firm headquartered in Canada. They specialize in many markets, including residential design. Stantec designs a range of homes from single-family units to entire communities. They implement sustainability into all of their projects so much that they produce an annual report for these initiatives, including elements of environmental stewardship and responsible governance. 

Oaks Zero Energy Community
The Oaks Zero Energy Community by Green Hammer

Green Hammer

Green Hammer 

Green Hammer is a certified B-Corp design-build firm in Portland, Oregon, that was another top performer in 2018 for the AIA 2030 challenge. They focus on net-zero energy buildings and buildings that implement living systems. They have expertise in high-performance buildings, indoor air quality, water conservation, and healthy materials. They have an impressive portfolio that showcases a wide range of innovative designs. Green Hammer is committed to reversing climate change and as such, creates buildings that are third-party certified to ensure they are to the highest standards. They strive for various certification programs, including LEED, Earth Advantage, Passive House, Living Building Challenge, and more. 

Disclaimer: This article does not constitute a product endorsement however Rise does reserve the right to recommend relevant products based on the articles content to provide a more comprehensive experience for the reader.Last Modified: 2021-07-23T14:29:48+0000
Maria Saxton

Article by:

Maria Saxton

Located in Roanoke, Virginia, Maria Saxton holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Design and Planning from Virginia Tech. She works as an Environmental Planner and Housing Researcher for a local firm specializing in Community Planning, Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Historic Preservation. Her dissertation explored the environmental impacts of small-scale homes. She serves as a volunteer board member for the Tiny Home Industry Association.