If the community acts together today, we can mitigate and even prevent the worst effects of climate change. Our calling is, and has always been, to make the world a better place. Now is the time to step up and help protect life on this planet.
At the 2007 Architecture 2030 Global Emergency Teach-in, I sat next to the renowned climate scientist James Hansen and asked, “When will we begin to see the actual effects of global warming?” He leaned over and whispered, “At about 1°C warming.” Today, I checked NASA’s Vital Signs of the Planet website and, sure enough, Earth is currently 1.02° C warmer than pre-industrial levels.
I write this less than two weeks after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its comprehensive and alarming Sixth Assessment Report on the state of the climate crisis. Meanwhile, brutal heat waves, droughts, deadly flooding, and fires are shattering world records and ravaging Europe, North America, China, and India—the regions currently responsible for 58% of global CO2 emissions.
The takeaways are clear: We are all in this together, and we must all act quickly and boldly. The time for half measures and outdated targets is over if we are to stop the irreparable destruction of our cities, towns, and natural environments.
Architects and design professionals have a unique and critical role to play. We directly shape and influence the built environment worldwide. We are the one industry across all political and geographic boundaries with the agency to affect global emissions immediately. In other words, we can decide to design and build to zero carbon today.
Building operations alone account for about 40% of total global CO2 emissions; factor in interiors, sitework, landscapes, cityscapes, and infrastructure, and that percentage is much more. If the world is to meet the 1.5°C carbon budget set in the 2015 Paris Agreement, we must provide the necessary leadership and reduce CO2 emissions in the entire built environment by 50-65% by 2030 and reach zero carbon by 2040.
Twenty years ago, when I founded Architecture 2030 and issued the 2030 Challenge, achieving zero carbon buildings seemed a distant aspiration. Today, thanks to the creativity and ingenuity of the global design and construction community, we have the knowledge, standards, tools, and technologies on hand to achieve zero carbon buildings in all climates, worldwide.
We have an extraordinary opportunity to be leaders in solving the climate crisis. This is the ultimate design project. This is our legacy.
– Edward Mazria
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