Sustainable, Equitable Design Can Save the World
Buildings currently contribute about 40% of the carbon that is warming our climate to dangerous levels. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) wants to change that, and its Blueprint For Better campaign is a call to action. The campaign urges architects, design professionals, and the public to make their voices heard so that civic leaders understand the importance of supporting sustainable, equitable design for buildings in all communities.
Let’s back up, though. What exactly is sustainable, equitable design? In short, it means designing and constructing buildings that are energy efficient, resilient, affordable, and help address a diverse range of issues that are specific to different cities. “It’s not just about green buildings,” said Vishaan Chakrabarti, FAIA FRAIC, founder and creative director, Practice for Architecture Urbanism DPC. “It’s also about green communities.”
Architects are leaders in their communities, and their expertise is valued when it comes to making smart, informed decisions that can transform a city and help solve the carbon issue we’re all facing. The AIA’s Blueprint For Better helps grease the wheels for architects by putting them in contact with advocacy efforts in various communities.
This isn’t the first time the AIA has featured actionable steps for a carbon-neutral future. You may be familiar with the AIA Climate Action Plan, AIA Framework for Design Excellence, and AIA 2030 Commitment. Blueprint For Better, which builds on those plans and goals by asking architects to pledge to make a difference in the world, is the next step. “Architects can use our work, and buildings, to change the world,” said Helena Zambrano Macías, AIA, project architect, Overland Partners.
Ed Mazria, FAIA, published groundbreaking research when he founded Architecture 2030, a nonprofit initiative to transform the global built environment from the problem to part of the solution when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions. Mazria, the recipient of the 2021 AIA Gold Medal Award, stated that the architecture industry has been on a carbon binge for decades, and it’s time to change. That change needs to happen fast, though, before it’s too late. According to climate research, if we don’t reduce our current global carbon emissions by 65% by 2030, and then to 0% by 2040, climate change will become irreversible.
It’s a complicated issue, so it requires a detailed response by the architecture community. Overall, it means reducing embodied carbon emissions, improving air quality and land use, creating more transit options, and improving health across communities. This can include, among many options, adapting and reusing existing buildings, selecting building materials with zero emissions, shifting to electric heating and cooling systems, generating carbon-free renewable energy, and much more. Architects have tremendous opportunities to change the trajectory of the world, and the AIA has resources to help.
We’re used to seeing super heroes in the movies be the ones to defeat evil and set everything in its right place. Well, grab a cape, a sidekick, and silly nickname, because it’s your turn to save the world. Visit www.blueprintforbetter.org to learn more and join the campaign.
editor & publisher