The Australian Institute of Architects will deliver 15 strong ‘calls for action’ at next month’s United Nations conference in Copenhagen in an attempt to ensure the forum deliver an ambitious and effective international response to climate change.
Institute National President Melinda Dodson said that the paper covers issues ranging from the pressing need for an international standard of accounting for carbon emissions, to appropriate planning for the unavoidable impacts of climate change, and incentives to drive innovation to ensure greater and faster take-up of sustainable design.
Developed with Architecture Canada, The Royal Institute of British Architects and the Commonwealth Association of Architects, the statement highlights the importance of the crucial roles architecture and the built environment can play in reducing the climate change impact on the environment Buildings and cities currently account for almost half of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Ms Dodson said that the call-for-action statement has been designed to encourage architects, governments, and the broader community to act on extensive research that demonstrate the significant contribution the built environment can make to emissions mitigation - if comprehensive efforts in energy efficiency are pursued.
The calls-for-action items include 10 principles:
- Recognition of the fundamental importance of the built environment as central to the international climate change mitigation and adaptation agenda.
- Binding emissions targets and a carbon price to drive market change - a price on carbon reflecting the true consequences of its use and complementary government policies and incentives facilitating the competiveness of sustainable design.
- Credible and verified measurement of built environment emissions, being an international standard of accounting for carbon emissions.
- Innovative and pre-emptive design and adaptation of the built environment in response to unavoidable impacts of climate change.
- Partnerships between developing and developed economies to share information regarding sustainable design and technologies.
- Enabling policy - whether market mechanisms, government policy, private sector initiatives or voluntary action.
- Incentives to drive innovation and reward greater sustainability in the built environment.
- Investment in pilot projects to trial and demonstrate innovative approaches to built environment models.
- Risk management in the face of climate uncertainties - future scenarios, including the threat of peak oil and sea level rise, should be factored into the way built environments are conceived and planned.
- A concerted program to improve existing building stock to encourage positive change, including energy efficient refurbishment and retrofitting, as well sustainable design for new buildings.
David Parken, CEO of the Institute of Architects Australia said the call-for-action statement also includes a blueprint for action outlining the Australian architecture profession’s support for a range of measures. They are:
- Emissions reduction targets of up to 90 per cent on 1990 levels, by 2050 (President Obama’s campaign platform included a pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050).
- Requiring the majority of all new buildings in developed countries to be designed to be carbon neutral in energy use by 2020. Notwithstanding market and other barriers, the technology, knowledge and expertise to do this are becoming more widely available.
- Helping to establish an international accredited, independent offset mechanism or framework for the building sector to offset emissions from the built environment where emissions cannot be entirely eliminated, particularly from existing stock.
- By 2020 a 30 per cent reduction in emissions generated by existing buildings in developed countries. With the support of the right incentives, the architecture profession's knowledge and skills will help reduce future emissions, by applying sustainable design principles to retrofitting, renovations and extensions.
- An electronic clearing house to facilitate capacity building and the transfer of knowledge skills and expertise as they relate to sustainable design principles and strategies for the built environment and our cities.
“The Kyoto Protocol, which was the first step towards concerted international action to limit greenhouse gas emissions expires in 2012. The next 36 months are crucial, and definitive international action is required to build a new international climate change agreement. Such a treaty must be science based, equitable, practical and binding.” Mr Parken said.