July 25, 2006
In May the U.S. Conference of Mayors unanimously adopted the 2030 Challenge, one of most ambitious programs involving curbing greenhouse gas emissions in the building sector [RECORD, July 2006, page 158]. The resolution calls for an immediate 50-percent reduction in fossil fuel energy consumption in new and renovated buildings, and it seeks to eliminate fossil fuels from new construction by the year 2030. In other words, within 25 years, cities that manage to meet the 2030 Challenge will not use oil, natural gas, or coal in the heating, cooling, lighting, or construction of new buildings.
The president of the U. S. Mayor’s Conference, Dearborn, Michigan, Mayor Michael Guido, says soaring energy prices and global warming research impelled the mayors to adopt the 2030 Challenge. “If we don’t meet the greenhouse gas reduction targets that the scientific community has put forward in order for the world to avoid dangerous climate change—[then] there will be catastrophic climate change.”
The country’s mayors have powerful tools at their disposal through which they can change the nation’s energy policy, Guido adds. “Cities build buildings—whether there is the local schoolhouse or the courthouse or the local fire station. We are consumers of building materials so we can have an influence,” he says. “And with zoning and building codes and other tools we can have an additional influence on the general public’s concept of what constitutes a good building.”
Guido says that Chicago, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, and Seattle have already taken significant steps towards mandating a greener built environment. But for the most part, the mayors are just getting started on tackling climate change, “We are going to take up the 2030 Challenge in October at our energy summit in Atlanta, which is where our resolutions come to life, and from there we are going to take the show on the road.”