CarbonPositive: The Changing Embodied Carbon Landscape
We are all in there. When we talk about the imperative for climate action from the built environment community, we are talking about architects and all related professionals: engineers, planners, landscape architects and many others. That we are all in this together is true for the community of all living beings, and it is true for all the disciplines involved in making the built environment.
When Architecture 2030 and Edward Mazria, FAIA, first launched the 2030 Challenge in 2006, many questions arose in the market as to where and how emissions could be addressed in building projects. Architects and the American Institute of Architects were early adopters, and in 2008 the AIA 2030 Commitment was launched. As our understanding of embodied carbon has grown, architect-led teams have approached sustainable construction through thoughtful designs and material selection. Other disciplines have also stepped up to support this agenda with their own initiatives and calls to action, including structural engineers with the SE 2050 Challenge and the Embodied Carbon of Structural Systems Commitment; and the mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineering community with the MEP 2040 challenge addressing the impacts of refrigerants on climate change, among other goals.
Architects also understand that the embodied carbon challenge goes beyond the building and includes sites, landscapes and infrastructure. This movement has also matured, just as the need to accelerate climate change mitigation and adaptation is becoming more evident given the latest climate reports. At this point, the need for cross-disciplinary collaboration on this scale has never been greater, especially as teams continue to broaden and refine their approaches, focusing on reducing emissions and reducing emissions. increasing CO2 sequestration, while creating resilient and equitable communities.
At this point, the need for interdisciplinary collaboration on this scale has never been greater.
Some of the greater clarity and strength on this front can be attributed to the Climate Positive Design Challenge, which catalyzed not only the American Society of Landscape Architects’ Climate Action Committee, but also the International Federation of Landscape Architects’ Climate Action Commitment. , for their 70,000 global members, which was launched ahead of COP26. The official Architecture 2030 COP26 event in Glasgow included representatives from the AIA, Australian Institute of Architects, Royal Institute of British Architects, ASHRAE, IFLA and the Climate Heritage Network and is an example of this new interdisciplinary alignment.
At the project level, these collaborations are key – architects work closely with landscape architects, civil engineers, urban planners, urban and interior designers, and structural and M/E/P engineers. As the urgency to respond to climate change grows, so does the imperative to crystallize what climate action is for your team and your business. When you start a project, bring the gravity of the AIA 2030 commitment to the table and also encourage your colleagues to articulate their disciplines’ commitments. Each discipline’s measurement approaches, tools and learnings can influence others. The more tools and intelligence we share, the more impact we can have.
We have made progress. Architects can keep moving forward, guiding the built environment community towards greater impacts – reducing emissions, sequestering carbon and creating resilience, equitable communities and richer environments in biodiversity.
This article originally appeared in the April 2022 issue of ARCHITECT.