There is no more critical threat to our future than climate change. We are already seeing the effects in our daily lives – nuisance flooding, sweltering days, intense storms, out of control wildfires. These will continue to worsen, as will ecosystem collapse, biodiversity losses, and the necessary abandonment of areas that have repetitive and uninsurable risks.
Can we design our way out of this?
Architects believe that a different future is possible. We are in a position to address the primary issues affecting the built environment: mitigating carbon in the construction and operation of buildings and the underlying design of cities; and adapting to a future with greater climate variability of precipitation, hotter temperatures, more flooding and fires. In order to do this, we need a Climate Action Plan.
Buildings are responsible for 39% of greenhouse gas emissions, by far the largest share; a shockingly larger slice of global emissions than transportation or industry. A total of 11% is embodied carbon in construction and 28% in building operations. If we succeed in designing buildings to meet net zero, the associated reductions will fulfill Paris Accord targets.
The American Institute of Architects is working toward this goal and Allison Anderson is one of a dozen architects from across the country grappling with how a Climate Action Plan will guide the institute in focusing attention on this all-encompassing problem. The AIA is an army of 94,000 people. If we are successful at leading the profession, transforming the practice of architecture, and educating the next generation of architects, developers, clients (and the general public), we can make headway against climate change. The AIA is moving quickly and we expect to have a draft of the plan by February 2020.
For more information on the AIA Climate Action Plan go to: https://www.aiacontracts.org/resources/77541-where-we-stand-climate-change