Leadership Needed from Architects and Designers

In a review of progress on Ed Mazria’s 2030 Challenge, which calls for all buildings to be carbon neutral by 2030, World Changing argues that still more leadership is needed from architects, landscape architects, and planners to change already out-dated “green” building codes, and reach the goals of the 2030 Challenge. “We need a massive change in the very way buildings and places are planned, regulated and seen by the public.”

As Ed Mazria and others have noted, the building sector accounts for some 50 percent of global C02 emissions (see earlier post on his plan). Mazria provided a vision for green building development. World Changing argues: “his message became a rallying cry that professional groups, politicians, designers and journalists could stand behind: If we want to fight emissions, we must fundamentally change the building sector, the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.” World Changing argues that the technology and tools already exist for making this vision happen, it’s really just a matter of implementing on a wider scale.

World Changing says, while design organizations have signed on to Challenge 2030, now that we are nearly at the first marker in Mazria’s vision, it’s clear there has been little real progress. “Such adoptions have been largely aspirational, with little enforcement. Now we’re nine months from Architecture 2030’s first incremental goal: by 2010, the Challenge expected all new buildings and major renovations to meet a 60 percent fossil fuel reduction standard, with an equal number of buildings retrofitted to the same standard as those built new.” LEED buildings are breaking into the mainstream, but remain “a novelty to nearly everyone, still the stuff of awards ceremonies.”

One big problems remains out-dated building codes, which were designed to prevent things from happening, as opposed to encouraging green design. World Changing contends: “Part of the solution will be to get regulators — and voters — on board. Outdated zoning codes can stop designers from incorporating new technologies. One story making the rounds has a team of city employees in a Washington town designing a theoretical dream green development, and then seeing how well it met local code — they found, so the story goes, more than 50 rules that would prevent the project from moving forward before they stopped counting.”

World Changing argues for the importance of: new energy policies to encourage the inclusion of renewable energy components in buildings (so buildings can generate their own energy); greater involvement by designers in policy making through letter-writing, running for office, and working with local chapters of major design organizations; new continuing education focused on sustainability to dramatically change current practices among the design professions; and the active involvement of local designers in local zoning boards and government.

Read the article and another World Changing article on the building code changes outlined in the new Waxman-Markey legislation making its way through Congress. Also, check out an interview with a former owner of a landscape architecture firm who won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, Kathy Dahlkemper (D-PA), as well as ASLA’s advocacy work on Capitol Hill.

Image Credit: Sidwell Friends School / Andropogon

2 thoughts on “Leadership Needed from Architects and Designers

  1. Arnold98 10/22/2009 / 7:33 am

    How many golden opportunities do we let pass us by on a weekly basis? ,

  2. Jim Lewis, Portland Oregon Landscaping 11/11/2010 / 11:40 pm

    We need to create incentives for LAs and designers to consider methods that are part of the solution. Incentives, rather than laws, rules and regulations, create the desire for change without forcing it.

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