Some 450 architects from across Iowa are in Des Moines this week to learn more about how to design greener buildings that leave smaller carbon footprints. Mike Broshar is a Waterloo architect and chairman of the fall convention of the Iowa chapter of the American Institute of Architects. The theme of the gathering is "Kicking Habits."

"Architects and actually buildings in the United States contribute 50-percent of the greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere through the design, construction and operation of those buildings," Broshar says. "The focus of the convention is on reducing carbon dioxide emissions in our buildings."

He says the goals are to reduce carbon emissions by 50-percent by 2010 and to make all new buildings carbon neutral by 2030. "Architects in Iowa need some tools in their hands to be designing buildings more efficiently using less energy in order to meet those goals," Broshar says.

He says buildings that are more energy-efficient will, by nature, create less pollution, so they’re experimenting with a number of options. "We’re also looking at alternative energy systems, such as wind and electricity generated through solar power," Broshar says. "Geothermal systems, which are becoming very popular, are one means of reducing the energy required to heat and cool our buildings."

He says architects need to design buildings that will work with nature and the environment better than they do now. The convention is underway today and Friday at the Polk County Convention Complex in Des Moines. For more information, visit the chapter website at .