The 2030 Challenge establishes important targets for building performance — but setting targets is only the first step toward achieving real reductions. Here are four additional steps your firm should consider to meet 2030 goals and help transform your practice for the coming decades: training, wayfinding, tracking, and sharing.


For those who aren’t familiar with the standard, the 2030 Challenge was issued in 2006 by Architecture 2030, and charts a path toward carbon neutral buildings by 2030 through a series of progressive targets. The AIA adopted and codified these targets in the (separate but related) 2030 Commitment, which adds reporting requirements for firms who sign on.

The 2030 Challenge has been gaining ground as architects look for meaningful targets to address climate change. Its targets are compelling because they are grounded in the latest science: the reality that global carbon emissions must peak by 2020 to stay within a global carbon budget of one trillion tons — the threshold for avoiding catastrophic climate change.

So let’s say your firm has signed on to do their part. What’s next? Here are five important steps toward meeting these goals:

  • Training: Build your firm’s capacity and expertise around performance based design. Make sure everyone at your firm understands the basics of 2030 goals as well as key metrics like EUI (Energy Use Intensity, or energy use per area). A quick introduction to energy modeling can make this type of analysis seem much less daunting. (Sefaira offers free training for our customers — contact us if you’d like a refresher.)
  • Targeting: Consistently establish EUI targets for every project early in the design process. Visibility is the first step toward actual performance improvements. Sefaira customers can use Sefaira for SketchUp, which calculates 2030 targets automatically based upon location and primary building use. Building performance is then tracked against these targets as you design, allowing you to gauge your progress toward this goal.
Sefaira for SketchUp includes 2030 Challenge benchmarks directly in the user interface

Sefaira for SketchUp includes 2030 Challenge benchmarks directly in the user interface


  • Wayfinding: Architects need more than a number — they need actionable feedback that helps them improve their design. Comparative energy modeling is one way to understand performance: testing different design options can inform decisions about building form, orientation, and facade design. Early-stage analysis can also help architects understand which design elements are the major culprits of energy use, so they can focus on strategies that will have the most impact. Here are a few resources for making good use of early-stage analysis:
  • Tracking: Firm-wide tracking of EUI can help keep you honest about your firm’s progress — and more importantly, can help you learn from past successes and failures. To be most effective, performance analysis should be performed consistently across all projects at several points throughout the design process (including measuring actual performance after the building is built). You can use this data to understand trends in your firms’ projects, identify particular areas or project types that need attention, or discover the types of changes that alter predicted performance over the course of the project. This data can be a powerful tool to hone your firm’s design process around performance.
  • Sharing: Many firms are updating their portfolios to include estimated and actual EUI for their designs. This sends a powerful message to prospective clients: that you are serious about performance, and are willing to back up that commitment with hard numbers. It’s one thing to say you’re sustainable; it’s another to demonstrate it. Performance metrics are quickly becoming the new arbiter of success in sustainable design.

These steps can help your firm build its performance credentials and its analysis capabilities at the same time that they help you meet 2030 Challenge goals.