Coastal cities have always been a point of attraction for residents, tourists, and businesses. Alongside the aesthetic features, their proximity to the sea has made these cities a focal point for maritime transportation with the construction of ports, as well as hotspots for recreational and aquacultural activities. However, the past decades saw these particular regions threatened with a shortened lifespan; rising water levels, floods, and recurring cyclones, along with other natural disasters, have endangered coastal communities, putting their population, ecosystem, and built environment at risk.
climate emergency: The Latest Architecture and News
Following an extensive report on the impacts of climate change last year, the second installment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nation's body for assessing the science related to climate change, addresses the current and anticipated impacts of climate change on ecosystems, biodiversity, and human communities across the globe, along with action plans on how the natural world and human societies could adapt to these changes before reaching an "irreversible" state.
African nations are fighting climate change with an 8,000 kilometer long Great Green Wall meant to combat the desertification of the Sahel region, home to over 100 million people. Spanning the entire width of the African continent, the movement aims to restore 100 million hectares of degraded land, sequester 250 million tonnes of carbon and create 10 million jobs in rural Africa by 2030. Stretching from Senegal in the West to Djibouti in the East, the project is the joint effort of 21 African nations that strive to restore the once lush region and protect the livelihoods of local communities.
The growing consumer demand for transparency—especially around sustainability and environmental practices—has implications for industries from apparel to healthcare products. Mars Inc. recently released a cocoa sourcing map to tackle deforestation and increase accountability, and the Fashion Transparency Index pushes apparel companies to be more forthcoming about their social and environmental efforts.
Now it’s time for the building industry, characterized by a lack of information around the materials and practices used in construction and throughout a building’s lifecycle, to catch up. The cost of inaction is too high to ignore. That’s because buildings account for 39 percent of total global carbon emissions. Traditionally, most carbon reduction efforts in the building sector focus on operational carbon—a building’s everyday energy use, which accounts for roughly 28 percent of emissions. The remaining 11 percent comes from what is often ignored: embodied carbon.
This article was originally published on Common Edge.
Most of the news coming out of the recently completed climate summit in Glasgow was disappointing. Previous summits had ended in similarly dispiriting ways, and COP26 was no exception. It acknowledged the severity of the problem and the urgency of the moment—the need to keep warming to under 1.5 degrees Celsius (some scientists believe it’s already too late to prevent this)—but put off making the hard commitments necessary to actually solve the problem. At the same time, this summit did feel different. There was a sense of urgency in the Glasgow streets, and the world’s attention was undeniably focused on climate change. How this focus eventually translates into action on the political front remains an open question.
But architect Edward Mazria, executive director of Architecture 2030, believes that despite the immense obstacles facing climate activists, the building sector is on the cusp of helping change the course of the planet. He sees genuine reasons for hope and renewed effort. In the wake of the seemingly grim news out of Glasgow, I spoke with him last week about the way forward, how we’ve reached an important inflection point, why energy use tied to buildings has begun to decline globally, and the steps required to fully decarbonize the built environment.
Last week, the Common Council of Ithaca, New York, voted to approve a first-in-the-nation decarbonization plan in which the roughly 6,000 homes and buildings located within the notably “enlightened” lakeside college town will be electrified to meet goals established by the city’s impressively aggressive Green New Deal (GND) plan. That carbon-neutral-by-2030 GND plan was adopted unanimously by the Common Council in June 2019 to “address climate change, economic inequality, and racial injustice,” per the city.
A lot can happen in the space between a book’s title and subtitle, as A Blueprint for Coastal Adaptation: Uniting Design, Economics, and Policy (Island Press, 2021) demonstrates. Here, in a reversal from the norm, the subtitle assumes the more evocative bent by elevating design to the same status as economics and policy. To some, this might seem a spurious move, but the volume lives its creed: Its editors include two design academics and a business school professor, to say nothing about the myriad backgrounds of its contributors.
Blueprint goes deep into the policy decisions that have shaped the brittle condition of coastal infrastructure. It coalesces into a convincing picture of the wider context in which design operates, with the aim of making the built environment more equitable for those caught on the front lines of certain climate change cataclysm.
As cities grow in scale, dimensions, and amplitude, taking in 60% of the world population, the United Nations has designated the 31st of October as “World Cities Day”, an opportunity to talk furthermore about global urbanization, addressing challenges, encouraging opportunities across borders and highlighting responses. Focusing this edition on the theme of “Adapting Cities for Climate Resilience”, this day, part of Urban October, seeks to raise awareness about the climate crisis and its repercussions on the built environment.
Cities, at the center of the global challenges, are hubs for institutions, society, economy, commerce, and transportation. Understanding the importance of “Thinking the City”, we have compiled in this roundup, articles published by ArchDaily’s editors that offer planning tools and guidelines, tackle the different components of the urban realm and highlight worldwide as well as contextual questions and responses.
This article was originally published on Common Edge.
In the evolving campaign to combat climate change, big and bold solutions are increasingly easy to find, from the conceptual “water smart city” and ecologist Allan Savory’s vision for greening the world’s deserts to NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to turn part of Governors Island into a “living laboratory” for climate research. Oyster reef restoration is occurring at nearly every critical junction along the eastern seaboard, from Florida to Maine. These are worthy efforts, and yet, when considered collectively, the onus for solving our climate crisis is being left largely to municipal governments and private actors, making most solutions piecemeal, at best. The success of one approach has little to no correlation with that of another. But what happens when all related solutions can be applied within a single, controlled ecosystem when environmentalism and urbanism are not at odds, but working in concert? Enter the experimental city.
This article was originally published on Common Edge.
Architecture 2030 is calling on all architects, engineers, planners, and individuals involved in the building sector worldwide to design all new projects, renovations, landscapes, cityscapes, and infrastructure to be zero carbon starting now.
By some estimates, cities consume over two-thirds of the world’s energy, and account for more than 70% of global CO2 emissions: a figure sure to increase as the global migration from rural to urban areas continues. In the pursuit of exploring new models for how healthy cities could more effectively sustain these demands, Dutch design and research studio FABRICations has investigated how cities of the Netherlands can reduce carbon emissions through new design-led approaches.
Chile is a country used to natural disasters as much as to the reconstruction process. However, the frequency of these cycles has increased over the years. According to the Ministry of Interior (Homeland), 43% of all natural disasters recorded in Chile since 1960 happened between 2014 and 2017. In fact, the government is already involved in several reconstruction processes across the country.
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that global warming of 1.5°C (2.7 °F) is essentially inevitable in coming decades. The question now is whether the world can prevent further, more destructive warming of 2°C (3.6°F), or, even worse, 3°C (5.4°F), which is what current policies put us on a trajectory to experience. Our economies can only put another 420 gigatons of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere if we want a good chance of keeping a temperature increase to 1.5°C instead of 2°C. At our current pace, the world’s carbon budget will be used up before 2030. We need to phase out fossil-fuel use, build thousands of new clean power plants -- and swiftly move to power our homes, offices, schools, and transportation systems with clean energy.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the UN's body for assessing the science related to climate change, has recently published a comprehensive report documenting the extent of global warming. The paper provides new time estimates for crossing the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold, urging immediate and large-scale action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Following the publication of the report, UK Architects Declare has issued a statement inviting decision makers to a dialogue on how to collectively address the climate crisis while at the same time calling for the design professionals to re-evaluate their practice to support meaningful change.
Recently, a series of cities and government entities worldwide have announced various plans to either fight climate change or combat its effects. From New York’s investment in carbon-capturing technologies to Miami’s Stormwater Masterplan, or EU’s target to reduce emissions by 55% by 2030, the issue begins to take centre stage in urban design and politics. The measures come at a time when the consequences of climate change are becoming more apparent in extreme weather events, and the scientific forecast is less than optimistic.
Earlier this month, the city of Miami released a draft version of its comprehensive plan to combat the effects of climate change. The so-called Stormwater Master Plan (SWMP) will be implemented to alleviate the threat of flooding throughout the city, improve the quality of water in Biscayne Bay, and fortify its coastline against stronger and more frequent storm surges over the next 40 years, at an overall cost estimate of $3.8 billion.