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Environmental Protection

Architects Have the Blueprint for Solving Climate Change

William Bates

AIA 2019 President, FAIA

Buildings in the United States contribute to nearly 40 percent of greenhouse gases. As a result, designing and constructing buildings that can combat the greenhouse effect will improve humanity’s chances of healing the planet while creating a healthy, resilient, and regenerative future.

Climate change requires a holistic approach to solve, addressing the interdependencies among people, buildings, infrastructure, and the environment. Our training as architects allows us to look for solutions and ways to mitigate climate change comprehensively and creatively. 

AIA and its members are rallying the profession to do more to fight climate change. Broadly, the goal is to enhance and secure architects’ role as trusted partners and advisers to developers, legislators, and business and civic leaders. We plan to accomplish this through our collaborative efforts. 

We hope to do this at all levels, from local to global, as we look for ways to reduce the impact of the built world on the environment, from the planning stage, to construction and use.

Planning for the future

Because we know that the global scope of climate change and the resulting extreme consequences will alter every aspect of our lives — and the lives of future generations — in ways we cannot imagine today, the solutions to meet that challenge, must be comprehensive, focused, sustained, and, above all, immediate.

While we won’t be able to fully reverse the impacts of climate change, we can guide our design teams and clients on climate-adaptive strategies. Adaptive reuse and retrofitting existing buildings, selecting carbon-smart materials, and pursuing renewable energy sources are just a few examples of how architects are driving climate action. 

We are making this our top priority in order to address the crisis our communities face. Moving the needle on this critical issue — that threatens the future of our planet and humanity — requires our firm commitment to achieving carbon neutral goals in the built environment and our immediate action. It’s imperative that the industry acts today.

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