BRIEF 19 November 2009 – The Australian Institute of Architects in collaboration with Architecture Canada, the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Commonwealth Association of Architects will deliver a “call for action” at the Copenhagen Conference next month, as part of a wider push for a meaningful response to the challenge of climate change.

“Our call-for-action statement is designed to encourage governments, architects and the broader community to act on extensive research which shows the significant contribution the built environment can make to emissions mitigation – if comprehensive efforts in energy efficiency are pursued,” said AIQ national president, Melinda Dodson in a media statement issued today

The statement outlines ten 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 and and 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.

The institute chief executive officer David Parken said thesaid the call-for-action statement also includes a blueprint for action outlining the Australian architecture profession’s support for a range of measures:

  • 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.