How do designers help battle climate change? Sustainability means thinking about net zero energy and net zero carbon—in new construction and in retrofits.
Sustainability continues to rapidly evolve. New targets and creative strategies for achieving greater building performance are being uncovered continuously. And that’s a good thing, because the urgency related to environmental changes demands immediate action to address and turn around climate change. We must reboot our thinking about sustainability to meet the challenge.
Why the urgency?
In 2018, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a report which indicated that we have just a dozen years to keep global warming at 1.5°C or face catastrophic consequences for our planet. If that’s not a call to action, I don’t know what is. The IPCC group recommended a range of affordable and feasible solutions to keep warming at bay. Most notably, they highlighted the need for a 45% reduction in carbon pollution by 2030 and that carbon pollution must be at zero by 2050 to meet this 1.5°C ceiling.
George Mason High School in Arlington, Virginia.
Getting to zero
The built environment contributes to global warming—heating and cooling buildings accounts for some 40% of energy use in North America. Governments that are signatories to the Paris Agreement and others are not only targeting greenhouse gas emissions reductions and energy reductions, they are targeting new buildings for net zero energy and net zero carbon. But targeting new construction alone won’t get us to zero. We also need to think hard about the feasibility of wide-ranging building retrofitting to achieve these aggressive targets.
Read and download the Design Quarterly Issue 06 | Destination Zero
How are we doing it?
Today, our designers are equipped to target net zero energy and net zero carbon in our building projects, using parametric digital tools, energy modeling tools and a deeper understanding of what makes a community, not just a building, more sustainable. Stantec is an industry leader in the design and execution of net zero projects.
In this issue, we explore the forces driving sustainable design, new strategies for getting to zero, retrofitting our built environment and the importance of walking the talk beyond our buildings practice.
I invite you to explore our ideas and thoughts in the new Design Quarterly.
About the AuthorMore Content by Anton Germishuizen