The climate change signal of extreme weather was felt across the United States: it was the hottest year on record, Hurricane Sandy battered the east coast, record forest fires scorched the West, and the worst drought in 56 years affected 80% of our agricultural land.
Globally, millions were affected by droughts in Russia, China, and Brazil and by severe flooding in Niger, Chad, Nigeria, and Pakistan. The year ended with Typhoon Bopha’s catastrophic destruction in the Philippines and record heat and fires in Australia. It got so hot in Australia, that the Bureau of Meteorology added two new colors, deep-purple and pink, to its weather map to denote temperatures once considered off-the-charts: 50-52°C and 52-54°C (122-125.6°F and 125.6-129.2°C).
What does all this have to do with us?
We know the urban built environment produces over 70% of all global GHG emissions driving this climate crisis. Today, five out of ten people on the planet live in urban areas; by 2030 it will be six out of ten people living in urban areas.
By 2030, we will construct over 900 billion square feet of new buildings in urban areas worldwide (including demolition and rebuilding): a staggering number roughly equal to three and a half times all the buildings existing in the U.S. today.
Over the next two decades, we will literally build and rebuild most of the global built environment. This is our opportunity, our challenge.
Some degree of climate change appears inevitable. Whether it is manageable or catastrophic, however, will not be determined in Washington, DC, or Geneva, or Beijing, or by domestic legislation and international treaties, or by silver-bullet energy technologies, but by how we – the architecture, planning and building community – respond and act*.
We can choose to plan, design and build truly sustainable, livable, and resilient built environments, or we can accelerate climate change and ecological degradation, leading to increased human suffering. How we plan, design, and build today will have lasting impacts for our children, communities, and planet.
It really is up to us.
My best wishes for a productive and prosperous 2013,
Inspiration for 2013
A rapid transition to de-carbonized, resilient, and adaptive built environments is vital to tackling climate change. The architecture, planning, and design community is stepping up to the challenge, planning communities and designing buildings that not only meet, but also exceed, the 2030 Challenge targets.
Here are two great projects from 2012:
Project: Darling Quarter
Location: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Carbon Footprint: 72% GHG Reduction
Project: Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL)
Location: Pittsburgh, PA, United States
Firm: The Design Alliance Architects
Energy Consumption: Net-Zero Building
Architecture 2030 will be featuring exemplary projects throughout the year. We would like to see what you’ve been working on – send us your favorite low-carbon projects that meet or exceed the 2030 Challenge:
If you have a particularly noteworthy urban project, we would also encourage you to submit your project for the 2013 CNU Charter Awards.
Architecture 2030 has a number of major initiatives scheduled for 2013 – stay tuned. Here’s to an exciting year and continued acceleration towards a low-carbon future.