Design projects throughout America are improving their consistency in meeting environmental goals and objectives, according to the country’s leading architecture body.

Unveiling the results of a survey of projects completed by signatories to its 2030 challenge, the American Institute of Architects said that  in 2013, the number of new buildings designed by signatory firms which met current performance targets specified under the Challenge of having at least 60 per cent less fossil fuel consumption compared with the appropriate regional average for the building type in question increased by more than 200 per cent.

The Institute also said energy modelling to predict energy consumption was in place for almost two thirds (66 per cent) of the floor area designed by signatory firms (up 14 per cent) whilst the number of net zero buildings designed by signatory firms had increased fivefold to 73.

AIA chief executive officer Robert Ivy FAIA welcomed the results, but stressed the importance of greater take up of energy modelling and simulation, which was found to improve project performance by an average of eight percent.

“There is some very encouraging data in this report that shows how architects are making measurable progress towards reducing the carbon emissions in their design projects,” Ivy said. “But one of the major findings from our research is that in order to maximise the energy efficiency of buildings and to realize our ultimate goal of carbon neutral buildings, energy modelling must become a standard part of the design practice.”

The results follow an earlier report released by the AIA in conjunction with McGraw Hill, CBRE, and US Green Building Council and several other partners at last month’s Greenbuild conference in New Orleans which showed that almost half of all building owners reported a fall in healthcare costs for staff who work in facilities with environmentally sustainable features.

Introduced in 2009, the 2030 Challenge is a voluntary initiative in which signature firms from the architecture and construction industry commit to an objective of achieving carbon neutrality for all new buildings by 2030.

Under these goals, signature firms commit to the design of all new buildings and major renovations designed to meet fossil fuel, GHG-emitting, energy consumption performance standard reduction targets of 60 per cent compared with regional averages for the building type in question – a proportion which increases progressively to 70 per cent next year and by a further 10 per cent every five years thereon after until 2030.