Has any other profession embraced sustainability the way architecture has? Since the salad days of the green movement in the 1960s, an ever-growing number of architects has assiduously steered building techniques, public policy, and industry partners such as developers and product manufacturers in a more environmentally healthy direction. A profession long preoccupied with image began dedicating significant resources to enhancing building performance and resilience, and as a result can point to remarkable advances such as net-zero technologies and passive house standards. Now a third imperative is coming to the fore in the effort to mitigate climate change: embodied carbon.

Architects should naturally address all three, whenever possible. Resilience helps communities withstand extreme weather conditions and other calamities that are growing in frequency due to global warming. Improved performance reduces resource consumption as well as carbon emissions from day-to-day building operations, which amount to 28% of total global emissions according to advocacy group Architecture 2030. Embodied carbon, for its part, constitutes the emissions that result from construction and the manufacture of building products, which the nonprofit calculates as 11% of the global total.

Given high levels of development occurring worldwide, particularly in China, Architecture 2030 anticipates that by midcentury, if we carry on as usual, emissions from construction and related manufacturing will have grown to nearly equal those from building operations. The organization’s founder, Ed Mazria, FAIA, is determined to prevent that from happening, and sees embodied carbon as the profession’s new frontier in climate-change mitigation. In support, ARCHITECT has invited Mazria to guest edit our January 2020 issue and is collaborating with Architecture 2030 on a major conference on embodied carbon this coming March 2–4 in Los Angeles.

AIA clearly signaled its position with the adoption of the Resolution for Urgent and Sustained Climate Action at this year’s national conference, and also is issuing a renewed call for firms to join the 2030 Commitment, testifying before Congress about the need for code reform, and embarking on numerous related efforts. Last month, AIA Large Firm Roundtable joined ARCHITECT and Architecture 2030 in hosting a leadership summit in Chicago, where Mazria and others made the case for tackling embodied carbon. I used my allotted time at the podium to ask attendees how the magazine can help moving forward.

Now I’m asking you as well. It seems imperative that ARCHITECT—by which I mean not only the website but also the newsletters, print publication, in-person events, continuing education offerings, and social media accounts—do everything possible to support the profession as it combats climate change. But what does that look like? More specifically, what do you need? Project case studies? Product comparisons? A peer-to-peer discussion forum? (We’re also eager to know what other issues you prioritize: Equity? Business growth? New technology?) To that end, in the coming months, we’ll invite you to take one or more surveys about our editorial future. Please make the time to participate, and help steer ARCHITECT in the best direction for you, the profession, society, and the planet.