AIA Survey: Only 7% of Voters Know Buildings Are Top Cause of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Craig DiLouie, Editor

Posted October 29, 2007

Although buildings produce nearly half of all greenhouse gas emissions contributing to global warming, a survey by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) shows that 40 percent of voters believe cars and trucks are the highest contributors, compared to just 7 percent who accurately identified buildings as the top cause of emissions.

Studies show that buildings produce 48 percent of dangerous greenhouse gas emissions contributing to climate change, and that they consume 71 percent of electricity produced at U.S. power plants. Despite these statistics, only aerosol cans finished behind commercial buildings (1 percent) as being identified as the top source for greenhouse gas emissions. Power plants (19 percent) and natural causes (15 percent) were thought to be top contributors, while 10 percent of respondents were not sure what the top cause was and 8 percent responded “other.”

Although voters may not realize that homes and buildings are responsible for half of the greenhouse gas emissions, most were willing to invest in an energy-efficient home: 91 percent said they would be willing to pay an additional $5,000 for a house that would use less energy and protect the environment. Of the respondents who would not make the extra investment, 69 percent said they would if they could get their money back through lower electric and gas bills over the next seven to eight years.

“The AIA is in a position to educate all owners, both residential and commercial developers, on the need for energy efficient buildings. Because of the counsel architects provide, we can offer design solutions that reduce operational costs and will make great strides in combating climate change,” said AIA President RK Stewart, FAIA. “On behalf of our profession and the public interest, the AIA has a responsibility to educate and counsel our government leaders. We are working closely with Congress to advocate for the adoption of sustainable design principles in the final energy bill that will be sent to the President.”

The survey emerges as Congress reconvenes to produce a final energy bill. Energy bills from both the House and the Senate include the AIA’s Federal Building policy position, which requires that all new and significantly-renovated buildings owned or leased by the federal government be carbon-neutral by 2030.

In addition to the inclusion of the AIA’s Federal Building policy position in the House and Senate energy bills, the AIA also is advocating for:

• The extension and deepening of the energy efficient commercial building tax deduction from $1.80 per square foot to $2.25
• The construction of a “Sun Wall” on the Department of Energy’s (DOE) headquarters in Washington D.C. that will generate 200kW of electricity
• Establishing a national energy efficiency goal for all sectors of the U.S. economy
• Establishing an Office of Green Buildings within the General Services Administration (GSA) and a consortium that includes architects to advise
• The creation of a Zero-Energy Commercial Buildings Initiative at DOE to focus on the goal of carbon neutrality
The AIA will continue working with the members of the conference committee to ensure the final energy bill makes the federal government a leader in energy efficient buildings.

This survey was conducted among a nationally representative sample of 1,000 voters in the United States. The survey was developed for the American Institute of Architects by The Tarrance Group and Lake Research Partners. The margin of error for the sample overall is +/-3.1%.


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Editor: Craig DiLouie



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