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March for the Climate – Meeting the Paris Agreement Climate Goals

Cate Leger, Principal, Leger Wanaselja Architecture

Environmental organizations around the country are organizing a massive march in San Francisco September 8.

Meeting the Paris climate goals requires a lot of changes—including many changes to buildings.  Even as the ink dried on the Paris Agreement, analysts were telling us that the international commitments were nowhere near enough to keep global warming to under 1.5 or even 2 degrees Celsius.  But it was a start.  And even as Trump and his cohort walk us back nationally from these commitments, we in California and many others around the world are leaning in.

In September,  leaders pushing forward on meeting the Paris climate goals will be gathering in California for the Global Climate Action Summit  to share new commitments and challenge each other to go farther.  The Summit includes many excellent and ambitious challenges, several quite relevant to architects:

  • Net Zero Carbon Building Challenge,
  • The 30X30 Forests, Food and Land Challenge,
  • Green & Healthy Streets (“Fossil Fuel Free Streets”) Declaration, and
  • Advancing Towards Zero Waste Challenge

To support this agenda and to encourage our leaders to go further still, environmental organizations around the country are organizing a massive march in San Francisco September 8.

As architects, we have good reason to join this march.  Our everyday work is critical to solving the climate crisis.  But even as we understand what we must do–i.e. design all electric, low carbon footprint buildings, powered by renewables, and supporting zero emission vehicles–we find our efforts hampered by state level regulations.  The new 2019 Title 24 Building Standards, while improved, still include assumptions favoring gas.  In addition, energy efficiency rebates are still not available when switching fuels. See AIAEB 2-18 Newsletter for details.

At a larger scale, all of this work at designing the best Zero Carbon Buildings is inconsequential if it is not met at the same time with a comprehensive climate strategy that includes reducing fossil fuel production.  In an LA Times Op Ed, Bill McKibben argues that managing the supply side of fossil fuels works to lower greenhouse gas emissions and it is necessary to accelerate reductions enough to meet the Paris climate goals.  As a start, Governor Brown to could say no to new fossil fuel permits and take the state level equivalent stance to President Obama’s denial of the Keystone XL Pipeline.   He could go a step further and create a plan to phase out all oil and gas production in the state.

The national AIA has taken a public position in support of the Paris Climate Agreement.  Let’s ask our leaders to make our Zero Carbon Buildings more meaningful and march on September 8.