Our Journey from Paris COP21 to Net Zero
As the dust is settling from Paris COP21, I want to gaze back into that whirlwind, where I was pleased to participate as a speaker and delegate on behalf of Autodesk.
Architecture 2030 organized a well-attended symposium, “Getting to Zero by 2050: How to Decarbonize the Built Environment,” where I presented Autodesk’s new Insight 360. I described how this whole-building analysis, cloud data and building information management model simulation, in conjunction with Revit or Form-It Pro, can enable easier Architecture 2030 building energy standard adoption. The 2030 standard is 70 percent below national median rates for building energy use.
Insight 360, through optimization of the architectural, engineering and construction design cycles, ultimately moves the industry toward its net zero goal for operational energy by in essence game-ifying whole building systems designs, including passive and active solar, heating and cooling, and design forms.
My presentation concluded with a demonstration of how Autodesk’s Insight 360 and Rapid Energy Modeling (with compatibility on the InfraWorks 360 platform) is advancing the capacity of sustainable city planning and analysis. One example included the capability for “touch-less” single-building energy efficiency analysis in New York City. I also highlighted district-scale energy renovation planning and prioritization in Washington DC’s Central Business District. After the presentation, Terri Wills of the World Green Building Council adeptly moderated our panel.
On this tenth day of the climate summit, with an international deal hovering, Ed Mazria, founder and CEO of Architecture 2030, laid out the global roadmap for built environment decarbonization in clear, compelling imagery and charts. Other speakers, including the World Bank Group’s UN Climate Envoy, Rachel Kyte, called for a “cleaner, more inclusive future” before she was off to another round of negotiations at the official UN site in the suburban aerotropolis of Le Bourget.
Chen Zhen, secretary-general of China’s lead architectural alliance, who recently presided over an accord with Architecture 2030 and dozens of design firms, highlighted the necessity for carbon reductions through ratcheting up planning and design standards, including green building certification.
The need to develop better energy efficiency investment models and tools dominated the wish list of “Getting to Zero” symposium chair Benoit Labot, executive director of the International Partnership of Energy Efficiency Cooperation (IPEEC), but was likewise invoked by Mazria and Peter Sweatman of Climate Strategy Partners.
Despite the recent Paris tragedies, acknowledged with public shrines at the attack sites—and random street sorties by the French army–the city was vividly alive.
Private pageantry, global diplomacy, spirited philosophical and technical discussions, and of course Week 2 champagne flourished throughout the City of Light. From the heavily guarded, elegant medieval-era Hotel de Ville (City Hall), where hundreds of mayors met and celebrated a decarbonization pledge, to the postmodern Le Bourget airplane hangar (a modern-day Corbusier?), to the resolute street-side cafes of the Left and Right Banks, Paris was an ever-refined and dignified impresario.
Yes, retailers in the Champs-Élysées and other fashionable districts groused about a marked disruption of prime holiday shopping caused by the passing motorcades and security gauntlets. Nevertheless, most of the city and its vast suburbs, even the now-notorious Saint Denis, were accommodating and gracious.
In terms of big picture, the best test of success can be evidenced in the reaction to the Paris Climate Agreement, which may have already produced a number of market and policy outcomes:
- The Dow Jones market basket of coal stocks one week later is down about an average of 10% from pre-Paris COP21 levels, and decreased by more than a factor of four year-to-date.
- Global Renewables (iShare Global Clean Energy ETF) are up about 6 percent since the start of the conference, to market close Friday.
- And in post-Paris energy policy, the US Congress this week extended the renewables tax write-off from late 2016, when it was destined to sunset, for another three years.
- Within four days of the Paris Agreement, the eighth-largest US city, San Diego, committed to a legally-binding pledge to move to 100% renewable energy by 2035.
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