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Architects unite in Climate Change bid

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), Australian Institute of Architects, Architecture Canada and the Commonwealth Association of Architects have united to deliver a 15 point ‘Call for Action’ at next month’s United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen (COP15, 7-18 December 2009) in an effort to lobby world leaders to deliver an ambitious and effective international response to climate change.

The joint statement highlights the importance of the crucial roles architecture and the built environment can play in reducing the climate change impact on the environment; with buildings and cities currently accounting for almost half of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. It challenges Governments, and the global architectural profession, to work together towards achieving significant and lasting action to combat climate change.

The joint Call for Action 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.

Speaking about the joint call, Ruth Reed, RIBA President said: “Our Call for Action statement is designed to encourage governments, architects and the broader global community to act. I am delighted to join forces with architecture institutes around the world to tackle this vital issue. “The phenomenon of climate change is a challenge that requires a truly international effort to combat both its cause and devastating effects. However, many of the solutions - creating greener buildings, reducing energy use and changing our individual lifestyles - will be enacted at the local level, and this is where architects can play their part. In delivering an equitable solution, we recognise the vital importance of sharing knowledge amongst the global professional community, and learning from others’ skills and experience. We want to play a full part in that process.”

In summary, the calls for action include 10 guiding 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.

In addition to guiding principles, action is necessary. The profession will:

· Support emissions reduction targets to achieve per capita emissions of less than 2 tonnes CO2e by 2050.

· Support requiring the majority of all new buildings in developed countries to be designed to be carbon neutral in energy use by 2020.

· Help to establish an international mechanism for the building sector to offset emissions from the use of energy in the built environment particularly from existing stock.

· Design to reduce the emissions generated by existing buildings in developed countries by 30 per cent by 2020.

· Assist the transfer of knowledge and technologies to developing economies.

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