Mazria’s Road To Zero: Phase Out All CO2 Emissions by 2050

Peter Wege’s grandson Andrew Goodwillie used the occasion of Earth Day to remember his grandfather when he introduced architect Edward Mazria as this year’s 19th annual Wege Foundation Speaker. “To ‘Grampie,’” Andrew told the crowd at Aquinas College’s PAC, “every day was Earth Day, not just one day a year.” Andrew went on to say about Peter M. Wege, who died in July 2014, “My grandfather dedicated his life to making West Michigan and the world a better place. He inspired us all.”

Goodwillie introduced Mazria’s talk on an international movement to reduce carbon emissions from buildings by saying, “Grampie never met a building he didn’t want to turn into a green building.” In 2006 Edward Mazria founded Architecture 2030, a think tank created to accomplish exactly that.

Since half the energy used in the U.S. is consumed by buildings, Architecture 2030’s mission is to reduce by 50% the amount of fossil fuels in the built environment by 2030. The long-term goal is to reach zero emissions from buildings by 2050. Because 75% of all greenhouse gas comes from urban centers, the 2030 movement targets cities, with Seattle having been the first.

In the nine years since Mazria launched Architecture 2030, eight more cities have signed on with pledges from both the public and private sectors to meet the 50% reduction by the 20230 deadline. The day after Mazria’s Wege Lecture, the city of Grand Rapids voted to begin the process that will make it a 2030 city by the end of the year. (See related news article.)

By 2030 today’s 7.2 billion people will be joined by 1.1 billion more, mostly in cities. Constructing enough new space to house that many more people is equivalent to adding another New York City every 35 days. “We must lock in our energy needs,” Mazria emphasized, “because if we stop emissions now, over time the planet will be able to reabsorb the carbon.” Architecture 2030 intends to help Earth make that happen by cutting energy used by buildings in half within fifteen years.

Three generations of the Wege family meet with architect Edward Mazria after he gave the annual Wege Lecture at Aquinas College.  From the left, Peter O’Connor, husband of the late Peter M. Wege’s granddaughter Sara holding their baby Peter Charles; Mary Goodwillie Nelson, Wege’s daughter; Edward Mazria and Andrew Goodwillie, Mary Nelson’s son who introduced Mazria at the Wege Lecture.