2030 Districts: High Performance Building Districts Leveraging Public-Private Partnerships

By Meghna Tare

Meghna is the Executive Director, Institute for Sustainability and Global Impact at the University of Texas at Arlington where she has initiated and spearheaded many successful cross functional sustainability projects related to policy implementation, buildings and development, green procurement, transportation, employee engagement, waste management, GRI reporting, and carbon management. She is a TEDx UTA speaker, was featured as Women in CSR by TriplePundit, has done various radio shows on sustainability, is an active blogger, and graduated with an MBA in Sustainable Management at the Presidio Graduate School. You can connect with her on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter @meghnatare.

Our cities can be the cornerstone of the green circular economy, supporting resilient societies and inclusive communities with universal access to public services and economic opportunity. The WBCSD’s cornerstone Vision 2050 report calls for laying out a pathway to a world in which nine billion people can live well, and within the planet’s resources, by mid-century.

As we move toward 2050 we are facing the consequences of accelerating urbanization and population growth, the rise of mega-cities and mega-regions, and the increasing demand for and complexity of mobility options. Rampant growth and dwindling resources are creating new vulnerabilities and greater pressures for urban planning and governance — requiring new strategies for building resilience in individuals, communities and cities.

Cities, however, are also places of enormous innovation and opportunity. The key to planning for sustainable cities of the future is to bring together innovation and delivery capacity of the private sector and private-public partnerships.

The 2030 Districts is a movement to create high-performance building districts with the goal of dramatically reducing the environmental impacts of building construction and operations while increasing competitiveness in the business environment and owner’s return on investment. The initiative is overseen by Architecture 2030, a non-profit organization committed to transforming the built environment from a major contributor of Greenhouse Gas Emissions to a being a central part of the climate crisis and dialogue.

2030 Districts is a collaborative effort to renovate hundreds of millions of square feet of existing buildings and construct high-performance infill development and redevelopment. Architecture 2030’s objective is for 2030 District national collaborators and partners to have equal access to the support and resources needed to achieve the 2030 Challenge for planning targets. 2030 Districts commit to reducing building energy use, water consumption, and GHG emissions related to transportation by 50% by 2030.

2030 Districts bring property owners and managers together with local governments, businesses, and community stakeholders to provide a business model for urban sustainability through collaboration, leveraged financing, and shared resources. By targeting district-scale greenhouse gas emissions reductions, 2030 Districts realize the benefits of multiple building owners, operators, and occupants working together to share resources, leverage financing, and implement collective strategies.

The 2030 Districts:

  • Focus on high performance buildings and building retrofits;
  • Engage with individual building owners and managers, building sector professionals, and community representatives, and are private sector led;
  • Track metrics and performance in the following areas: building energy use, water use, and transportation emissions;
  • Report on aggregated building and district wide performance against set metrics and performance goals with incremental milestones.


2030 Districts are led by the private sector, with local building industry leaders uniting around a shared vision for sustainability and economic growth – while aligning with local community groups and government to achieve significant energy, water, and emissions reductions. Districts in fifteen large cities – Seattle, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Denver, San Francisco, Stamford, Dallas, Toronto, Albuquerque, San Antonio, Grand Rapids, Austin, Portland ME and Ithaca – comprising over 290 million square feet are currently being transformed under this initiative.

2030 Districts have the ability to creating a Fee for service with a local Municipality or organization providing necessary work needed for an existing or new program through their knowledge, skills and connections. 2030 Districts can align Fee for Service contracts with Grant programs to gain additional revenue streams to grow within their community. The program also assists with procurement. The 2030 Districts Marketplace was created to streamline the procurement process and offer innovative reliable products at below-market prices. Technologies are selected through a competitive application process to vet reliability, effectiveness, and pricing.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the Building Sector consumes nearly half (47.6%) of all energy produced in the United States. Seventy-five percent (74.9%) of all the electricity produced in the U.S. is used just to operate buildings. The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Reports confirms the necessity for immediate and sustained action on climate change, detailing how close we are to a turning point in the earth’s climate system. One key way to do that is to reduce and ultimately phase out the CO2 emissions produced by the building sector by transforming the way buildings are designed, built, and operated!

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