Metropolis: How Architects Can Fight Climate Change During the Midterm Elections

From METROPOLIS.com

How Architects Can Fight Climate Change During the Midterm Elections

Architects Advocate, an activist network of architects focused on climate change, describes the new tools it's releasing

By Tom Jacobs

 Florida National Guard soldiers conducting a rescue operation near Jacksonville, Florida, after Hurricane Irma. -  Courtesy the Florida National Guard

Florida National Guard soldiers conducting a rescue operation near Jacksonville, Florida, after Hurricane Irma. - Courtesy the Florida National Guard

An unprecedented pattern of heat waves in the arctic. Devastating hurricanes and wildfires in the US. Sunny day flooding in the streets of Miami. The Earth is warning us that climate change is real and 97% of climate scientists agree these changes are caused by human activity.

But while we are feeling the effects of climate change like never before, federal policymakers are reversing the very initiatives that could reduce carbon emissions. The U.S. exit from the Paris Climate Agreement, the rollback of the Clean Power Plan, and the recently announced loosening of fuel economy standards for cars are just a few examples of the type of human activity that is moving us in the wrong direction.

The stakes couldn’t be higher because we are on the shore of the climate Rubicon. We urgently need prudent and responsible leaders who are committed to decisive action on climate change if we are to turn the tide.

Architects, as stewards of healthy and productive communities, have a special responsibility—and opportunity—to help.

More than any other profession, architects are trained to build consensus around multiple—and often competing—interests and stakeholders. We need to deploy these skills towards a redesign of the systems that impact all of society. To achieve the goal of transforming to a carbon-free economy with the necessary speed and scale, we need to help bridge the partisan divide and lead by coalescing the members of our great profession towards joint positive impact.

This is one reason I cofounded Architects Advocate for Action on Climate Change in 2016. Since that time, 900 firms and 2,400 individuals have pledged their support to our nonpartisan network.

Now, with critical midterm elections around the corner, Architects Advocate is introducing the Catalytic Action Platform to make it easy for both citizen architects and firms to act.

Citizen architects commit to being guided by science and prudence, to being nonpartisan, and to taking action. We encourage them to familiarize themselves with the government officials who represent them, and to know where they stand on climate action. We’re also asking Citizen Architects to join the over 1,500 architects nationwide who have signed the Open Letter in support of the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives.

At the firm level, members are encouraged to support existing initiatives like the 2030 Commitment by the AIA which calls for all new buildings, developments, and major renovations to be carbon-neutral by 2030. Buildings consume nearly half of the energy in the United States, more than transportation or industry, which makes the 2030 Commitment all the more urgent.

Architects Advocate also recommends firms include fossil fuel–free fund options in their 401(k) plan offerings, allowing their employees to align their financial resources with their environmental values.

For more information on the Catalytic Action Platform tools, such as fossil fuel–free 401(k) plans and the We Are Still In network, visit www.architects-advocate.com.

Tom Jacobs is the cofounder of Architects Advocate, as well as partner at Chicago-based Krueck + Sexton Architects and an adjunct professor at the College of Architecture at IIT.

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Architect Magazine: Architects Advocate Releases New Tools for Firms and Individuals

From ARCHITECT Magazine:

Architects Advocate Releases New Tools for Firms and Individuals Ahead of 2018 Midterm Elections

Outlined in its Catalytic Action Platform, Architects Advocates calls for greater political engagement and commitment to addressing climate change.

 

Since the nonpartisan grassroots network Architects Advocate Action on Climate Change (Architects Advocate) was founded in late 2016, the group has called for greater participation among architects and designers to demand climate change legislation from political leaders. Nineteen months later, the organization has unveiled its Catalytic Action Platform, a series of steps for firms and individual architects to take ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.

“Maybe more than any other profession, architects are trained to build consensus around multiple—and often competing—interests and stakeholders. We need to deploy these skills towards a redesign of the systems that impact all of society,” said Architects Advocate co-founder Tom Jacobs, AIA, in a press release. “This is leadership in the truest sense. To achieve the ultimate goal of transforming to a carbon-free economy, we need to go to the polls and make choices based on issues, not parties.”

The platform calls for individual architects to join the Architects Advocate Network; to use the group’s form letter to write to individual representatives in Congress supporting the Bipartisan Climate Solution Caucus; and—most importantly—to vote on Tuesday, Nov. 6 for candidates that “affirm climate science and who are dedicated to enact meaningful and needed legislation,” according to the platform website.

For participating design firms and practices, Architects Advocate asks that they become signatories of the AIA 2030 Commitment; join the We Are Still In network to demonstrate a commitment to upholding the standards in the Paris Climate Agreement; and offer a fossil free investment fund options as part of investment plans if 401(k) plans, where they are available to employees.

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Metropolis Magazine: After Irma and Harvey, Architects Advocate Network Calls for Action

In the wake of two devastating hurricanes, the grassroots group is pushing for design and policy responses.

“Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have brought destruction, loss of life, and suffering. There is no debate that this is real and that it will happen again. There should also be no debate that, guided by our common humanity, we in the architecture and design community must do all we can to help ease the devastation that future storms will bring.”

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Port Arthur, Texas on August 31, 2017 after Hurricane Harvey. Courtesy SC National Guard/Wikipedia

Chicago Tribune Article Highlights AA Letter to President

More than 100 Illinois architects publish open letter to Trump on climate change

By Nausheen Husain

More than 120 architecture and design firms from Illinois signed an open letter last week to President Donald Trump pressing the new president on climate change and energy use. The letter originated from Architects Advocate, a group started in July by four partners at Chicago-based Krueck+Sexton Architects. The group has not received a response from the Trump administration yet.

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