Architects and engineers participating in the 2030 Commitment program are making strides in reducing carbon in designs, according to a new report released today by the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

Architects and engineers tracking their predicted building design performance as part of the program found a savings of 17.8 million metric tons of carbon over the 2030 baseline during the 2017 reporting period. The number represents the same amount of carbon that would be sequestered in 21 million acres of forest in the U.S. each year, which is nearly as big as the state of Maine. It also equates to an annual cost savings of $3.2 billion in operating cost over the 2030 baseline.

Other highlights of the report show 560 projects met the 2017 target of 70 percent energy savings or above and 99 projects reached net zero.

“This latest data is proof that we can make progress in reaching net zero results,” said 2018 AIA President Carl Elefante, FAIA. “The data is key to getting there. While we need all architects and engineers committing to carbon neutral goals, lawmakers need to be adopting better policies and incentives that will support the same initiatives. Our future depends on it.”

Nearly 40 percent of U.S. energy is consumed by buildings. The 2030 Commitment works to eliminate the consumption by adopting key energy targets in addition to providing a framework of metrics and a comprehensive data tool that allows signatories to the commitment to track progress towards net zero carbon by 2030.

“The 2017 data represents another year of incremental progress and a step in the right direction,” said AIA 2030 Commitment Working Group Chair Nathan Kipnis, FAIA. “While that’s positive, we recognize that we’ll need to enhance our performance more rapidly if we want to reach the goal of designing 100 percent carbon neutral buildings by 2030.”

More than 500 firms are now engaged in the 2030 Commitment and 212 firms contributed comprehensive portfolio data during 2017, which is 21 percent more firms than 2016. Architect and engineering firms can learn more about participating in the 2030 Commitment by visiting AIA’s website.