Architects Advocate: Action on Climate Change

Architects Advocate for Climate Change Action

Last week’s United Nations General Assembly saw more than 20 world leaders formally binding their governments to the 2015 Paris Agreement, all but ensuring that the climate accord will go into force by the end of the year. In the fight to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and earnestly address global climate change, architects are on the front lines. In the United States, the impact of our current urban design approach is the source of about 70% of GHG emissions.

It’s therefore fitting that a group of Chicago-based architects have recently launched an online initiative calling for action on climate change. Following weeks of grassroots outreach, 114 architecture firms and eight industry-related companies have joined the public outreach campaign, dubbed Architects Advocate: Action on Climate Change. The campaign is quickly spreading to cities across the country.

Supporters of the campaign are provided with a banner to be displayed on their homepage, and the messaging is meant to be adopted by other professional groups like engineers and manufactures. The banners, which express the group’s message and mission statement, come in short and long form.

According to a press release, the goals of the group are to “make the voice of the architecture community heard by both the general public and those who are entrusted to legislate and govern. Initiative supporters are asked to speak out and share their stories in social, print, and mass media.” Long term, the group looks to enact meaningful legislation to mitigate climate change.

“Climate change has yielded dramatic, potentially irreversible changes to our communities,” states the Chicago-based architect Tom Jacobs, who conceived the idea. “The core of our effort is the belief that a healthy environment is a civil right, that we need to enact meaningful legislation to mitigate climate change, and that architects need to publicly speak out on behalf of this goal by sharing their knowledge and actions creating livable communities.”

For more information and to get involved in the campaign, visit

Pulse Points

  • On 09.13.16, Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYC Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg announced that New York City is on track to add 18 miles of protected bike lanes and at least 75 bike lane miles by the end of 2016, exceeding last year’s record and earlier projections.
  • On 09.20.16, AIANY offered public comment to the City Council’s Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries and International Intergroup Relations. During this oversight hearing on the Public Design Commission, AIANY expressed our continued support of the Commission’s role in the review and approval of capital projects. In addition, Councilmember James Van Bramer introduced a bill that would require the Commission to produce an annual report; AIANY similarly supported this step to increase transparency and openness of the Commission. Continue here to read the full statement.
  • On 09.20.16, the Port Authority and West Side elected officials who have been engaged in a protracted battle over plans for a new bus terminal in Midtown, issued a joint statement endorsing “a new expanded, comprehensive planning process.” The five design competition concepts announced on 09.22.16 as part of the Port Authority’s Design and Deliverability Competition “may inform the planning process, which will include a larger universe of planning options to be considered.” The Port Authority will not designate a recommended concept.
  • On 09.22.16, the City Council’s Committee on Recovery + Resiliency held an oversight hearing on Build it Back, the federally funded program dedicated to rebuilding homes damaged in Superstorm Sandy. Significant cost overruns in Build It Back have led to a shift of $500 million in federal funding initially allocated for storm-protection programs to repair and rebuild homes instead.
  • On 09.22.16, the NYC Department of City Planning held its first public scoping meeting during the city’s environmental review process for a renewed Midtown East Rezoning plan. This would be the first step in approving a plan that would raise the as-of-right density allowance for a 78-block area between 57th and 39th Streets and Madison and Third Avenues. Written comments to be considered and incorporated into the final scope of work are being accepted until 10.04.16.
  • On 10.06.16, The New York Interagency Engineering Council will host “The Future of Public Works: Turning Challenges into Action.” The conference will discuss future energy infrastructure trends, as well as sustainability and performance initiatives in public buildings. Tickets and more info available here.
  • On 10.16.16-10.25.16 the International Code Council’s 2016 Annual Conference and Expo takes place in Kansas City, Missouri. The international building safety conference offers exclusive ICC resources and information to support the work of architects and design professionals. Register here.