More than 260 years ago, Benjamin Franklin wrote, “You may delay, but time will not.” In the context of climate change, those words are even more relevant today. Many of us are doing what we can to fight and to mitigate the impact of a rapidly changing climate on the built world. Through changes in lifestyle and business and professional decisions, both small and large, we are helping to lead the change we seek.
I was proud of the passion and the evident heartfelt commitment to positive change by members at the 2019 Conference on Architecture, where the Resolution for Urgent and Sustained Climate Action overwhelmingly passed by a margin of more than 15-to-1: 4,860 to 312.
The resolution’s three areas of action include: 1.) Declaring an urgent climate imperative for carbon reduction; 2.) Transforming the day-to-day practice of architects to achieve a zero-carbon, equitable, resilient, and healthy built environment; 3.) Leveraging the support of architecture’s peers, clients, policymakers, and the public at large. These three areas make clear our intent and our resolve to lead on this issue.
Initiatives like the 2030 Commitment are essential to making a lasting and meaningful difference—last year, more than 250 firms, or 45% of all signatories, reported data to the 2030 Commitment on projects totaling nearly 3 billion square feet across 92 countries—but more must be done. The fact is that as important as the 2030 Commitment and other initiatives like it continue to be, we have to think bigger and act bolder, without delay.
Because what we know is 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 that we cannot imagine today. The solutions necessary to meet that challenge, and specifically the contribution of our profession, must be comprehensive, focused, sustained, and above all, immediate.
I’m proud of the work that the board, strategic council, and component leaders are doing to move the profession toward greater leadership in efforts to improve the environmental stewardship of the built world. Throughout this year, we have listened to the members, and worked at the board, committee, and staff levels on a vision of how the profession can lead on this issue in a holistic, pragmatic, and inclusive way. In the coming weeks, we will share more details about how we plan to ensure that the architect’s voice and expertise are central to how the global society meets the challenges of a rapidly changing climate.
Broadly the goal is, through our collaborative efforts, to enhance and secure the architect’s role as trusted partners and advisers to developers, legislators, and business and civic leaders. 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.
The time has come for us to assume the leadership role that will lead to solutions for the society we serve. It is time for architects to expand our roles of convener, counsel, and advocate for responsible environmental stewardship and a more sustainable built environment. I have never been prouder to be an architect because so many of my colleagues have seized this leadership moment. I hope more will join us for the good of the society we serve.