The fight against greenhouse gases takes commitments from all industries, if for no other reason than their emissions can be traced to so many different sources.
Recognizing the role of the built environment and their own industry in this equation, the world’s architects have made their own commitment to help reverse the trend.
At its World Congress in South Africa this summer, the International Union of Architects (UIA) unanimously adopted the so-called “2050 Imperative,” which calls for nothing less than the total elimination of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the built environment by the year 2050.
The reasons for the imperative are clear. According to the UIA, urban environments account for more than 70 percent of global energy consumption and CO2 emissions, and most of that is from buildings. Furthermore, it projects the built environment to expand and rebuild by nearly 60 percent of its current size in the next 20 years. The UIA, which represents 1.3 million architects, sees this as an opportunity to address this major source of carbon emissions.
The pledge includes several objectives designed to meet the goal. Among them are planning and designing new developments and buildings to be carbon neutral; renovating and rehabilitating redevelopments and buildings to be carbon neutral; seeking high efficiency and ultimately carbon neutrality in all built environments; and research, design, advocacy and access to information and technology to help promote the goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.
The imperative also calls for the design of various on-site renewable technologies to support the goal. These include passive heating and cooling, water catchment and storage, solar hot water, daylighting, and natural ventilation systems.