Yesterday President Trump formally notified the United Nations that he intends to pull the United States from the Paris Agreement, which he had been promising to do since he took office in 2017. In response to the Trump administration’s notice, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) called for the decision to be reversed. “The AIA deplores the administration’s shortsighted decision,” said AIA 2019 president William Bates in a statement. “The economic impact of the United States as a participant in the Paris Agreement is a fraction of the toll we will pay if we do not make climate action a top priority as a nation. The stakes couldn’t be higher—a reversal of this decision is critical.” Nearly 200 countries signed the accord in November 2016, which served as a collective pledge to combat climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions around the world. President Obama brought the U.S. into the agreement, but President Trump—who once described climate change as a “hoax”—has been warning neighboring nations that he would withdraw. As of Monday, the first day possible to do so, the Trump administration submitted its intentions to remove the U.S. from the agreement. It will take a year for the formal exit to go into effect on November 4, 2020—the day after the 2020 election. While cities and states across America from Seattle to Los Angeles, Maine, New York State, and even Washington, D.C., have announced individual plans to go carbon neutral in the decades to come, having little-to-no federal oversight is still not acceptable to many believers in climate change, including several architects. AIA’s Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer Robert Ivy said the “abdication of America’s leadership on climate action undermines our nation’s credibility on the global stage.” When AN reported earlier this year on the Green New Deal, design industry leaders noted how the impact of climate issues goes beyond global warming. While the Green New Deal calls for decarbonization across the entire U.S. economy, it also pushes the idea that a carbon-free economy is a socially-just one, too. That means thinking beyond environmental impact and shifting the focus to public projects that benefit all people, like affordable housing. The AIA and many among the architectural community, in general, aim to solve the climate crisis by promoting healthy building design and reducing carbon waste during and after construction. In August, many architects took to the streets for the Global Climate Strike with climate activist Greta Thunberg. Even if President Trump is able to get what he wants by removing the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, there are a number of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates running against him who have trillion-dollar plans to reverse his damage. Regardless, the AIA has announced its opposition to the president’s move this week and urges him to think again: “In order to move the needle on this global crisis, it will take the efforts of every industry, every company, and every citizen in the United States as well as the leadership of the United States government,” said Ivy. “The AIA will continue to prioritize climate action in an effort to support architects—and the entire design and construction field—in this critical role.”
Posts tagged with "Paris Agreement":
Foster + Partners’ design for a new extension to the Marseilles Airport on a former brownfield site is being scrutinized by France’s environmental agency, which has called for a resubmission of the plans in fear they don’t align with the country’s ambitious plan to go carbon neutral by 2050. The Autorité Environnementale (AE) said that the current plans are “underestimating the project’s environmental impacts and overestimating its socio-economic benefits” in their statement. Areas of concern for the AE include Foster + Partners’ addressing of traffic, noise, air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, and even the impact on local birdlife. The renowned British firm won the competition for this extension in 2017, beating Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners for the chance to add the “missing piece” between the existing buildings of the airport—the original ’60s modernist wing by Fernand Pouillon and a 1992 addition designed by the Richard Rogers Partnership. The winning design features a prominent glazed volume, a space for newly connected departures, and arrivals hall. In addition to the 72-foot-tall windows that will pour light into the building, an array of continuous skylights in the inverted beam roof will add to the naturally-lit "glass box" effect. The goal? “A clarity of layout and expression,” according to the firm, inspired by Pouillon’s project, with the ability to process over 12 million travelers per year. “In regards to the content, the extension project has been thought to be virtuous,” said an AE spokesperson, clarifying that the query wasn’t a question of the design, but of the methodology. While the architects defend their claims that the airport will be sustainable—even exceeding the cutting edge French HQE and E+C- standards—the project's focus on new public transit connectivity and more efficient airplanes seemed to miss the mark for the AE and have muddied the proposal for the agency. The new E+C- standards place a priority on energy-positive and low-carbon emission building projects, ideas that came into effect after pledges at the 2016 Paris Agreement amongst UN countries. France is due to receive the resubmission of more detailed plans for environmental action at the Aeroport Marseilles Provence by September 2019 and has reaffirmed its commitment to environmental action in the face of a growing denial of climate change in international politics. The carbon neutrality plan is seen as being “trialed” by the French, and the government’s attention to the new law, just implemented in June, has sent ripples throughout the international community. Foster + Partners has recently taken several internal steps to address and highlight climate concerns, and have expressed their commitment to the Paris Agreement and movements like Net Zero Carbon Commitment. Foster + Partners has publicly pledged to have 100 percent of their own occupied offices be carbon neutral by 2030, and has joined Architects Declare, a collective of UK firms verbal in their recognition and combating of climate change.
Instead of the traditional call for projects, the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (IABR) has released a call for practices for its 2018 and 2020 editions, which will share a common mission and focus on the environment. The biennials, collectively called The Missing Link, tackle the role of design in confronting climate change. The curators want participants generate actionable responses to some of the UN’s sustainable development goals, which were released after the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. IABR curators are asking designers and others to engage renewable energy systems, water management, sustainable agriculture, biodiversity, and resource management within cities to provide research and design rubrics that encourage positive change in these fields. The Missing Link will proceed in three stages. The 2018 edition is framed as a "work biennale,” while the years between the 2018 and 2020 biennials will be devoted to research on shifting these ideas into practical use, and the results will be shared with the world in the 2020 program. IABR hopes that the three year process will establish a "community of practice" that results in a shared biennial to be presented in both the Netherlands and Belgium. The curatorial team includes Floris Alkemade, Leo van Broeck, and Joachim Declerck. The trio of Belgian and Dutch curators will work on both biennials. The base of operations for the entire project will be the Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt delta in the Netherlands, a site the curators chose for its connection to cities and the natural environment. At the confluence of three major rivers, the delta links together a series of major ports including Rotterdam, Antwerp, Amsterdam, Vlissingen, and Ghent. IABR 2018 will debut on May 31 and run through July 8, 2018, and IABR is scheduled for spring 2020. Applications for IABR 2018 and 2020 are open until November 22, 2017.
Inefficient architecture and infrastructure is among the leading contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. According to the U.S. Green Building Council, buildings account for 39% of CO2 emissions in the United States and consume 70% of the nation's electricity. In New York City, fossil fuels burned to provide heat and water to buildings are the number one source of emissions – 42% of the city's total. This week, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a new plan to drastically reduce the emissions of aging buildings across the city. Despite Trump's hasty withdrawal from the 2016 Paris Agreement, de Blasio pledged to adhere to the treaty and accelerate New York City's action to cut its fossil fuel emissions. If approved by the City Council, owners of buildings larger than 25,000 square feet must invest in more efficient infrastructure (including boilers, water heaters, insulated roofs and windows, etc.) by 2030. This applies to around 14,500 private and municipal structures across the city. Owners of buildings that have not complied will face penalties beginning in 2030, ranging from fines of $60,000 a year for a 30,000-square-foot residential buildings to $2 million for a 1 million-square-foot buildings). Penalties may also include restrictions on future permitting for noncompliant owners. The plan also aims to produce 17,000 middle-class "green jobs" by 2030, including plumbers, carpenters, electricians, engineers, architects, and energy specialists. The announcement has given climate advocates a much-appreciated boost of public support, but also raises concerns for homeowners and renter advocates. The New York State Tenants and Neighbors Coalition tweeted at Mayor de Blasio that the city's promise to "stop landlords ... from displacing tenants or raising rents based on the cost of improvements" was only really possible if rental laws were changed to begin with: What does this all mean for architects working today? This latest development might be applied to provide a new standard for new structures built between now and 2030 (and long after) to incorporate more common-sense energy efficiency features. The Mayor's office has not responded to AN's query on whether this program or its penalties will apply to buildings constructed from 2017 onward. This new legislation marks the first major step by New York City to work toward the goals outlined in the de Blasio administration's 80 X 50 Roadmap – which commits to reducing the city's greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050. Donna De Costanzo, Director of Northeast Energy and Sustainable Communities at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) remarked on the plan: “Reducing the amount of energy used in the buildings in our city will put money back in New Yorkers’ pockets while improving air quality and creating jobs."
In response to the Trump administration's announcement to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement, the American Institute of Architects (AIA), as well as members of the design community, are releasing comments and statements in opposition to the decision. Architects Advocate also penned an open letter urging members of the House of Representatives to join the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus. We will continuously update this story as statements are submitted to The Architect’s Newspaper. Thomas Vonier, FAIA, AIA President:
The United States must remain a leader in the battle to cease harmful and needless practices that damage the planet and its climate, acting out of both environmental concerns and national economic interests. Instead of helping our economy, as the Administration contends, withdrawing from the Paris Agreement will put us behind our major global competitors. The AIA will not retreat from its long-established efforts to conserve energy and to deploy renewable resources in buildings. We will continue to lead in efforts to curb the use of fuels and technologies that needlessly pollute our atmosphere and harm our environment. This makes good sense economically, and it is in the best interests of those we serve: our clients and the public. We will also urge our members throughout the United States and the world to assist cities, states, organizations and citizen groups in meeting the aims of the climate accord. By adhering to our values as a profession that is concerned with human habitat and the health of our environment, we will help to mitigate the harm this decision will do to our economy and to America's stature across the globe.Mahesh Ramanujam, president & CEO, U.S. Green Buildings Council (USGBC) and Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI):
As many know the Paris Agreement, under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), establishes voluntary actions to address greenhouse gas emissions and global climate change mitigation and adaptation—and 194 countries around the world are signatories. The United States government has an opportunity to lead on this and, in so doing, strengthen global partnerships, yet has chosen to walk away. We are deeply disappointed to learn of the Administration’s decision to withdraw from the historic Paris Agreement today. We are facing an important crossroads and America must keep building. We need to keep building bridges and bonds and breaking barriers in the push for a sustainable future for all. While the pullout of the U.S. government from the Paris Agreement will be felt across the world, the surge of climate commitments and actions by the private sector, NGO’s, governments, cities and states, will only serve to strengthen the green building movement and keep pushing us forward. For 24 years, USGBC has led the green building movement with a strong vision – that buildings, communities, and cities will regenerate and sustain the health and vitality of all life within this generation. Today, our efforts continue unabated and with stronger than ever commitment and hope. Yes, hope. We are hopeful for the future because we know that our movement is a community of 13 million strong and growing. We are encouraged by their continued commitment to build a sustainable future for all. U.S. companies, including many USGBC members, are already working to address business risks from climate change and to adapt their businesses to domestic and global opportunities created around climate mitigation needs. Businesses and local governments are wisely seeking and investing in low-carbon fuels and technologies to stay on the cutting edge of the global economy. And with platforms like Arc, more and more companies and government entities are tracking their carbon emissions, committing to reduction targets, and taking action. Right now, business as usual is no longer an option. With the work of our organization, our members, our volunteers and many others, we have reached the point where the transition to a low-carbon economy is inevitable; but remains urgent. And all around us, we see that there are new leaders who are ready to rise, inspired by the promise of a brighter future for our children and for generations to come. They are the big corporations and small business owners, educators and innovators, scientists and activists, non-profit employees and policy makers, advocates and so many more who are working every day to change our world, definitively, for the better. To these leaders, green building is the key solution to pushing our built environment to be supportive and restorative of all life.James Miner, AICP, Managing Principal, Sasaki:
It appears that the president has decided to withdraw from the Paris climate accord. We gathered as a firm just yesterday to discuss the importance of moving from intent to action. We also talked about the need to take a stand together at times when our collective values are being called into question. Now is one of those times. As a community of designers that aspire to bring positive change to the world through the power of place, I would like to make clear that our position on climate change remains strong. As we all understand and appreciate, the topic of climate change is one that will far outlast the current political cycle. We cannot and will not change our stance towards responsible stewardship of our planet. Read the full statement from Sasaki here.Van Alen Institute
This past December, in response to the divisions revealed by the presidential election, we launched Crossroads Conversations on the Red Steps in Times Square. The program, which has since become a multipart series, invited people from all walks of life and political convictions to engage in a ten-minute conversation with a stranger. One participant, a young firefighter from New Orleans, introduced himself with, “I’m a Trump guy.” When the topic of climate change arose, his response was, “It’s undeniable. When you walk outside in Louisiana, you know this isn’t right.” He continued to rattle off statistics about the escalating global temperature, emphasizing the need to address climate change on an international level. Though only a brief moment at the “Crossroads of the World,” the conversation highlighted how the broader national belief in the reality of climate change and faith in science, particularly among younger generations, can overcome last week’s decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accords amid ongoing partisan divide. We can envision a future in which climate change is no longer a politicized issue, in the same way the issue doesn’t divide populations in other countries, where scientific research is the foundation of collective goals. Van Alen Institute’s work in the young firefighter’s home state of Louisiana has renewed our commitment to developing projects that address climate change issues in communities around the world. In that particular region, we served as a key partner with the Environmental Defense Fund and BuroHappold Engineering on Changing Course, a design competition that launched in 2011 to envision a more sustainable Lower Mississippi River Delta; the competition’s findings are now informing regional master plans. Of course, our approach to climate change goes far beyond the Gulf Coast. Back in our own region, we served as a lead partner on Rebuild by Design, an initiative of President Obama’s Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to address the structural and environmental vulnerabilities that Hurricane Sandy exposed in communities throughout the region, and develop fundable solutions to better protect residents from future climate events. We invite you to browse all of our climate-related work here.[Statement from the Van Alen Institute continues on vanalen.org]