The AIA pulls together a report each year summarizing how the signatories are doing (the latest report can be found here). In 2018, 252 firms—ranging from sole practitioners to multinational companies with more than 1,000 employees—submitted portfolios. According to the report, in 2018, the overall average pEUI savings was 46%. 712 projects met or exceeded the 70% savings or above, and 131 projects achieved net zero.

LMSA is an early adopter of the 2030 Commitment program, which aligns with our longstanding commitment to sustainability (a directory of firms participating in the commitment can be seen here). The program is a useful tool in benchmarking our projects and facilitating a goal-setting discussion among our design teams and with clients. We have been tracking our performance with the program since 2011 and have seen incremental progress over the years.

On a project-by-project basis, LMSA is reaching the 70% reduction goal for some, but not all, of our designs. We typically achieve or exceed the target on our educational projects, both K-12 and higher education. Many of our school designs have two or three stories, along with ample roof space and solar access, along with a commitment on the part of the school to achieve low carbon goals, all which make for excellent candidates for high pEUI reduction. However, the higher-rise urban buildings in our portfolio tend not to have that luxury, though many of our designs stretch to reach the 2030 goals.

Take one of our current affordable housing projects, the Edwin M. Lee Apartments in San Francisco, currently under construction. The jointly-owned Chinatown Community Development Center (CCDC) and Swords to Plowshares building is a five-story, 119-unit project for formerly homeless veterans and low-income families, with a near zero-lot-line condition in Mission Bay. The project’s fortunate siting with wide streets surrounding the property effectively provide setbacks from adjacent buildings, making southern exposure and flat terrain generally favorable for on-site renewable technologies. The design includes a solar photovoltaic array along the building’s roof and façade, and the array is estimated to produce 91% of the building’s common area electrical energy. The design also includes solar thermal panels estimated to produce 60% of the building’s hot water heating energy. With appropriate window shading, straightforward mechanical design and equipment, access to daylight and lighting controls, the design still falls short of the 2030 program’s 70% reduction target, at 44%.