California Buildings News Q4 2019

Page 18

18 California Buildings News • Q4 2019

Architecture Plays Major Role in Environmental Crisis By Stan Lew, Principal at RMW Architecture & Interiors and President of the American Institute of Architects of San Francisco ARCHITECTS ARE ENABLERS OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT, and by extension enablers of societal,

collective ‘we’ to tackle the challenges at hand. Architects, by their training and professional practice, are problem solvers and integrators whose creative process is founded economic and cultural development on a massive scale. So on disciplined and methodical solution generation. massive, the Anthropocene epoch is here and our environIn 2017, the EPA reported direct greenhouse gas emisment writ large and all living things in it are experiencing sions from homes and businesses accounted for 11.6 perseismic changes in the world's natural order. As contributing cent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Combustion authors and the commonly accepted vanguard of the built of natural gas and petroleum environment, architects are now, products for heating and cookperhaps more than any time in ing needs emits carbon dioxide history, called to respond to crisis. ..."our buildings, structures, homes, (CO2), methane (CH4), and The ratio of architects to churches, schools, offices, stores, nitrous oxide (N2O). Emissions people on the planet is approxifrom natural gas consumption mately 1:2,750. Architects total warehouses, airports and so many represented 89.0 percent of the in number approximately 2.7 other buildings could integrate direct fossil fuel CO2 emissions million for the over 7.5 billion from the residential and comresilience by design to better respond people on the planet. Each mercial sectors. Nearly 40% of American, on average, knows to the increasing frequency of local, global greenhouse gas emissions 600 people. Each architect is regional and global natural disasters." (GHGs) are emitted by buildings. connected and inter-meshed with The mitigation or avoidance their neighborhood, community, of the root causes of GHGs region, state, country, continent needs to be and continues to be the first line of defense and planet through their work. Those connections form against increasing heat trapping particles in the atmosphere. the intricate and value laden interlaced human network Solutions are required to be naturally multi-faceted to that catalyzes change. Examples of the power in numbers broadly address primary, secondary and tertiary effects of are plenty from many to one: #trashtag, 350 million trees the growing wave of climatic disasters. Solutions range planted in Ethiopia in 12 hours and Greta Thunberg for from the rippling effect of a conscious shift of rudimentary positive impacts. behaviors, to strategically designed tactics to reducing Architects uniquely aggregate, synthesize and impleeach structure’s or building’s GHG emissions. Remediation ment physical, social and environmental realities through of impacts is unavoidable and must be ongoing whilst the structures and buildings. We understand that the impact of planet continues to warm, but remediation must be implearchitects’ work collectively is large. Through formalized mented with both short and long-term thinking, and as such programs, certifications, standards, codes, policies and best must be inherently resilient. practices—we influence outcomes and yet there is much to Resilience broadly defined is a system’s ability to recover achieve. To elevate and scale impacts to respond to the magfrom negative impacts and can and should operate at mulnitude of climatic and environmental changes must be our tiple scales and levels. Ensuring that our collective work collective goal. Architects as unifiers, creators and authors of the built environment are ideally suited to bring together the (Continued on page 37)