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Architects can lead climate change fight as U.S.

pulls out of Paris Accord - Curbed 8/11/17, 4(43 PM

Architects can lead climate change


fight as U.S. pulls out of Paris Accord
To help save the environment, focus on a better
built environment
Patrick Sisson Jun 2, 2017, 8:17am EDT

A wind turbine in downtown Cleveland.


Shutterstock

Business leaders, U.S. mayors, even the head of Goldman Sachs agree that
President Trumps decision to pull out of the historic Paris accord to battle
climate change is a terrible one, and have agreed to double down on efforts
to combat global warming. Part of Trumps rationale, that he was elected to
represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris, fell flat when the mayor of
Pittsburgh said he supports the agreement.

Its clear theres a massive backlash over Trumps decision, and many are
looking for others to show leadership.

If any group leads the battle to fight climate change, it should be architects,
who design the environment that we live in and can help make it more
energy-efficient and sustainable.

As the Chicago-based group Architects Advocate for Action on Climate


Change put it:

We are on the front lines addressing climate change in a meaningful


and impactful way, facing current issues such as energy efficiency,
water conservation, sustainable land use, resiliency, and adaptive
reuse

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Architects can lead climate change fight as U.S. pulls out of Paris Accord - Curbed 8/11/17, 4(43 PM

Designing more sustainable, resilient, and energy-efficient buildings can


make a significant impact on emissions and climate change. According to
architect Edward Mazria, who founded Architecture 2030, a group seeking
to drastically cut carbon emissions from the built environment, buildings
consume nearly half of the energy in the United States, more than
transportation or industry. In any effort to mitigate climate change, this is
one sector with significant responsibility that can make a huge difference.

Architecture 2030

And the best part is, significant change in the architectural profession is
already taking place. According to stats collected by Mazrias organization,
the International Union of Architects, with member organizations
representing over 1.3 million architects in 124 countries worldwide, has
unanimously adopted the 2050 Imperative, an Architecture 2030
declaration to eliminate CO2 emissions in the built environment by 2050.
Over 350 firms in the U.S. have joined the AIA 2030 Commitment, a call
for all new buildings, developments, and major renovations to be carbon-

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Architects can lead climate change fight as U.S. pulls out of Paris Accord - Curbed 8/11/17, 4(43 PM

neutral by 2030, and individual architecture, engineering, and planning


firms continue to make a commitment to design to carbon neutral
standards by 2030, including top international and Chinese architecture
and planning firms that have signed the China Accord, a commitment to
plan and design cities, towns, developments, and buildings in China to
low-carbon/carbon-neutral standards.

Progress is being and has been made, and must be accelerated. Architects
need to advocate for better use of space, the use of more sustainable, more
efficient designs and building envelopes, and green renovations for our
existing building stock. Something like 80 or 90 percent of the buildings
that will exist in 2050 are already here, according to Ron Rochon,
managing partner of Miller Hull in Seattle.

Architects also need to design around the big picture, and focus on creating
more sustainable communities.

In terms of reducing our transportation energy footprint, architects can


help by designing communities that are clustered around transit, jobs, and
amenities, says Gladys Ly-Au Young, principal at SKL Architects. These
walkable, pedestrian-orientated neighborhoods will help reduce our
reliance on fossil fuel transportation.

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Architects can lead climate change fight as U.S. pulls out of Paris Accord - Curbed 8/11/17, 4(43 PM

Center for Sustainable Landscapes in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, designed by The Design Alliance Architects.
AIA

Many in the profession have already spoken out to reject Trumps decision.
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) announced its opposition to
withdrawal, with President Thomas Vonier stating that the move will put
the U.S. behind global competitors and damage our statue around the
globe.

"The AIA will not retreat from its long-established efforts to conserve
energy and to deploy renewable resources in buildings, Vonier said. We
will continue to lead in efforts to curb the use of fuels and technologies that
needlessly pollute our atmosphere and harm our environment. This makes
good sense economically, and it is in the best interests of those we serve:
our clients and the public.

Architects Advocate for Action on Climate Change issued an emergency


alert yesterday afternoon, which has already drawn more than 300

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Architects can lead climate change fight as U.S. pulls out of Paris Accord - Curbed 8/11/17, 4(43 PM

signatures, asking members and allies for support and political action. The
groups is collecting signatures in support of the 40 leaders in the
bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, and is encouraging the other 395
house members to join.

Amanda Sturgeon, CEO of the Living Future Institute, which promotes the
Living Building Standard, the worlds most sustainable building standard,
said that repeating a history that pillages the future for the next
generation in the name of greed is not only short-sighted it is also proven
to cost more in the long-term:

Today we are even more grateful for our Living Future movement -
regenerative designers, sustainability advocates, people with hearts that
bleed green not because it is politically expedient, but because it is
morally imperative. We will continue to harness and empower their
vision for a truly Living Future for all in order to achieve the objectives
of the Paris Climate Agreement, with or without the White House.

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Architects can lead climate change fight as U.S. pulls out of Paris Accord - Curbed 8/11/17, 4(43 PM

Oasia, a new green high-rise in Singapore that has a trellis-like exterior facade to help cool the building.
Albert Lim

Of course, architects still have to work for clients, who may not share the
same values or choose to place sustainability above budgetary concerns.
But in addition to educating and advocating more sustainable designs and
solutions to those who pay their bills, architects, as well as planners, now
have an important duty as professionals to push for building codes that
favor more sustainable and energy-efficient solutions.

Local building and housing codesimportant guidelines that arent set by


the federal governmentcan promote density, remove parking minimums,
favor transportation alternatives, and promote energy efficiency can not
only help reduce the countrys carbon footprint, but lead to healthier, more
sustainable cities and neighborhoods.

According to Michael Berkowitz, president of 100 Resilient Cities, an


initiative of the Rockefeller Foundation, sustainable construction and
planning can help cities respond to many of the challenges faced by climate
change.

If done right, solutions used to address the shocks of climate change could
also address the slow burning disaster cities face, he said. Seawalls could
be designed to create more park land; parks could be designed to both
lessen the heat island effect and to promote community cohesiveness; and
more.

Everyone for the Paris Agreement today is also for dense housing, bike
lanes and public transit, right? Just checking.

Michael Hobbes (@RottenInDenmark) 10:44 PM - Jun 1, 2017

Berkowitz shares the disappoint over the administrations decision. But he


believes that the creative, multi-benefit approaches to climate challenges
that cities across the country are taking is a much more beneficial and

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Architects can lead climate change fight as U.S. pulls out of Paris Accord - Curbed 8/11/17, 4(43 PM

important shift.

Architects can continue to push cities towards adopting more sustainable


solutions, Worldwide, 533 cities are now reporting their greenhouse gas
(GHG) emissions, a 70 percent increase in reporting since the Paris
Agreement. In North America alone, 56 percent of the cities reporting have
GHG emissions reduction targets, many declaring zero emissions or an 80
percent reduction by 2050 or earlier. Architects can and should be pushing
for more to join the ranks.

For now, the White House may have abandoned its role as a leader on
these issues. Now its up to architects, planners, and local politicians to
show true leadership on climate change.

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