When the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) met for its fall meeting, the keynote speaker outlined how glass can play a role in reducing our carbon output.

Edward Mazria, founder and CEO of Architecture 2030, gave the opening keynote and started with a bold statement: “We know now that we are in a full blown climate emergency. Fossil fuels and CO2 emissions are the issue of the day and timing is everything.”

His conversation centered around climate budgets, and how to get to a carbon positive environment by 2040.

“We have to address existing building operations, new building operations, materials construction and the infrastructure that connects it all,” he said. “For new buildings we have to bring them in at zero carbon. It’s already in the codes.”

Edward Mazria explains The Zero Code to NFRC meeting attendees.

Mazria is referring to The Zero Code, which is currently in the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). He reported that China has also developed a zero code, but they just need to get cities to start adopting it. At the end of this year and beginning of next year, European countries are expected to have this in place as well.

But the real dilemma comes into play in regard to existing buildings, which are responsible for almost 50% of all emissions.

“So how do you then get to government policy for these existing buildings?” he asked, and then answered, “You establish a threshold, and establish a big building emitter policy. By 2030, you have to electrify those buildings and use renewable for the electricity. You have ten years to do it, and you need to provide incentives to get people to go first.”

He said that adding these types of policies will not only reduce building operations by 65%, but will save a huge amount of embodied carbon.

Solar is now the cheapest form of electricity in history. Every time you use this you are replacing fossil fuel energy,” said Mazria, adding that glass can play a huge role toward this end.

“On the horizon, every glass installation can be a solar provider which can help get us to zero carbon operations,” he said. “The way we address zero carbon is to promote low carbon materials such as glass. In glass we are talking about energy efficient improvements and electrifying where possible.”

Though it seems daunting, Mazria said the building industry can achieve these benchmarks.

“Yes we can meet the carbon budget—it’s up to us. We are the gatekeepers and we can do this,” he said.

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