Among network-wide areas of cooperation are a co-operative purchasing programme (2030 Districts Marketplace) and toolkits such as for energy modeling for small commercial properties, district formation and project financing. There is access to a platform for data collection, analysis, benchmarking and reporting, plus case studies and educational events.
Where a district has particular expertise, such as Seattle for electric vehicle charging programmes or modeling software for storm water, so other districts can learn from these.
Dave Low was involved at the outset in Seattle in his role as director of sustainability at a real estate firm in the city. He is now based in Portland, Maine (now a member as well) and coordinates the network members.
The impetus in Seattle came from new requirements to benchmark the energy performance of buildings. “We didn’t exactly know how we’d manage it so we started to meet as a group to discuss,” says Low. “The idea was that, rather than just approach this individually, we should do so collectively.”
It took the best part of two years, with monthly get-togethers, to work out a way forward. Instrumental in this was the existing Architecture 2030 initiative, which had been established in 2002 with a stated mission “to rapidly transform the built environment from the major contributor of greenhouse gas emissions to a central solution to the climate crisis”. It had set the 2030 targets and had devised a national framework of metrics and standardised reporting formats to tackle these.
As well as the 2030 Districts Network, Architecture 2030 has spawned The Embodied Carbon Network, which now has 300+ members and constitutes a collective of individuals within taskforces committed to designing “embodied” carbon out of new and renovated buildings to achieve a carbon neutral built environment by 2050. Embodied carbon results from producing building materials and construction.
Replicating the Seattle Model
Back to the 2030 Districts Network, it was fairly quickly felt that what was being put together in Seattle could be replicated for other cities. Sure enough, as interest in the work brought other cities to see what was going on, so they started to cooperate as well.