Ed Mazria, 70, is an architect, not a scientist or mathematician. But almost 10 years ago Mazria, a 2011 Purpose Prize winner for community service, crunched some government data about the impact that constructing and operating buildings had on the environment. He reached two startling conclusions:
- They use 50 percent of all energy produced.
- They account for 50 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions.
And you thought cars were bad.
See also: Nominate a 2012 Purpose Prize candidate.
Mazria decided to do something about it. He started a research group, Architecture 2030, to figure out how to hack away at those alarming numbers.
His group developed strategies to harness the sun for energy and light inside new and existing buildings, to use high-efficiency heating and cooling systems and to buy renewable energy from off-site sources.
"I realized that we have the solutions, but nobody had put them all together," Mazria says.
Leaving his lucrative architecture practice in 2006, Mazria launched the 2030 Challenge. It sets five-year benchmarks for improving design so that by the year 2030 new construction and big renovation projects won't emit any greenhouse gases.
Who has taken up the challenge? The U.S. government, the American Institute of Architects, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and many more groups and jurisdictions.
To learn what attracted Mazria to green architecture and where he's headed now, watch the video in the player above.