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AIA urges architects, federal government to tackle climate change

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The organization outlined eight principles to guide action

Ahead of Earth Day on April 22, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) released a statement urging the government to protect energy conservation policies and detailed eight principles to guide architects’s role in fighting climate change.

"Architecture and design can mitigate climate impact while simultaneously reducing operating costs for building owners," said AIA President Thomas Vonier in the statement. "We need the federal government to keep and even expand incentives that are already producing major advances in energy efficient design and cutting the carbon footprint of buildings."

The statement, which comes at a time when cities around the U.S. are responding to the current administration’s proposed climate policy rollback, calls on architects to construct sustainable buildings to reduce carbon footprint, and on the government and policymakers to implement incentives that encourage this kind of building. Here are a few of eight principles outlined:

  • Designing and building resilient buildings is not a choice, it’s an imperative. As temperatures and weather become more extreme and severe, four global warming impacts alone—hurricane damage, real estate losses, energy and water costs—will come with a price tag of 1.8 percent of US GDP alone, or almost $1.9 trillion annually (in today’s dollars) by 2100. (Source: NRDC Climate Change Costs Study Estimates 3.6 percent of US GCP in 2100)
  • We believe that the climate change battle will be won or lost in cities. Three-quarters of global carbon emissions come from the 2 percent of the Earth’s land surface occupied by urban communities. While architects can drive greater efficiency and performance from urban areas, we need municipalities and urban design financiers to work as true partners in the climate change battle.
  • Collaboration is the key to climate change mitigation. Architects have the skills and experience to help protect the planet from the effects of climate change. But only by working and communicating globally with policymakers, the building industry and the general public can we effectively address the climate change challenge.

Read the statement in full here.