International and Chinese Firms Sign Historic Accord to Tackle Climate Change
October 2015 | International
Firms pledge to design cities, towns, urban developments, new buildings, and major renovations in China to low carbon/carbon neutral standards
Extraordinary times surely give rise to extraordinary events.
One such event took place in Shenyang, China on Thursday 22nd October: an unprecedented meeting initiated by 52 key Chinese and international architecture and planning firms responsible for designing thousands of cities, neighborhoods, and buildings worldwide.
Hosted by the China Exploration and Design Association – Architecture Branch (CEDAAB) and by Architecture 2030, the meeting gathered together influential global design and planning leaders with a common mission: to initiate collaborative efforts to dramatically reduce carbon emissions in the built environment. The historic meeting culminated with the signing of the China Accord – a commitment to plan and design cities, towns, developments, and buildings in China to low carbon/carbon neutral standards.
Ed Mazria, Architecture 2030, and Chen Zhen, Secretary-General of the CEDAAB, sign the China Accord
Among the international firm signatories were DLR Group, Skidmore Owings & Merrill, ARUP, Gensler, CallisonRTKL, HKS Architects, Perkins+Will, HDR, and Glumac. Key signatories among the Local Design Institutes from various regions in China included Shanghai Xian Dai Architectural Design (Group) Co., Ltd., China Architecture Design & Research Group, Beijing Institute of Architectural Design (Group) Co., Ltd., and the Shenzhen Institute of Building Research Co., Ltd. (The complete list of signatories is included below.)
“We understand our moral and professional responsibility to address the issue of greenhouse gas emissions if we are to stay within the 2° C threshold established by the international scientific community, and the Accord is just the beginning of our joint efforts. We have a long and exciting road ahead of us to decarbonize the built environment.”
– Ed Mazria, Architecture 2030 Founder and CEO
The significance of the China Accord, and the important meeting which gave rise to it, cannot be overstated. A grand paradigm shift has been set in motion, as profound as the Modern Movement of the 1920s and 30s, in how we shape and develop the global built environment over the next 20 years.
During this period, the world is projected to build 80 billion square meters of new buildings in cities worldwide, an area equal to 60% of the entire current global building stock. Since more than half of all global construction will take place in China (38%) and North America (the U.S. and Canada 15%), it is incumbent upon the professional design communities in these countries to take a leadership role in planning for a carbon-free and truly sustainable future by middle of this century.
In order to avoid catastrophic climate change, the world must completely phase out fossil fuel greenhouse gas emissions in the built environment by 2050. The signatories pledged to work diligently to do just that, creating cities, towns, and buildings that are models of economic and urban sustainability.
“The signing of the Accord demonstrates the determination and moral obligation by architects and planners, both Chinese and internationally, to shoulder this huge responsibility to tackle climate change by reducing carbon emissions and moving toward zero.”
– Chen Zhen, Secretary-General, CEDAAB
The China Accord is the private sector’s response to the Chinese government’s efforts to tackle climate change and achieve sustainable growth. It supports the national government’s targets to peak and begin reducing carbon emissions, as well as the State Council’s Green Buildings Action Plan and the most recent China-US Joint Presidential Statement on Climate Change.
A number of initiatives will support the implementation of the Accord, including professional training, knowledge sharing events and programs, a broad-based stakeholders’ forum, and the localization of design and planning strategies utilizing real-time simulation tools.
“There are a huge number of low-cost and cost saving design and planning strategies that can be implemented to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions,” said Mr Mazria, clarifying a common misunderstanding that greener buildings must cost more. “The signatories of the China Accord will collaborate on achieving this through training and employing advanced design tools.”
The alliance of the distinguished firms behind the China Accord, and the power of the collaborative efforts to implement it, hold great promise for us all in the ongoing battle to tackle climate change.