Architects Respond to Climate Change Pullout


The American Institute of Architects weighed in on the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, and insisted it would continue its practice of maintaining standards of conserving energy and using renewable resources.

President Donald J. Trump said Thursday (June 1) that he was withdrawing the United States from the Paris Agreement—a worldwide effort to fight climate change—and would attempt to negotiate a new pact with what he deemed to be better terms.

Trump’s move was not a surprise; he had made campaign promises to exit the Paris Agreement, which was drafted in 2016, will take effect in 2020, and has been signed by 195 countries. The agreement seeks to limit global warming attributed to emissions. (The U.S. is the world’s second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, behind China.)

Growing Opposition

Trump’s decision prompted a swift response from the architectural community.

"The United States must remain a leader in the battle to cease harmful and needless practices that damage the planet and its climate," AIA President Thomas Vonier said in a statement. “Instead of helping our economy, as the Administration contends, withdrawing from the Paris Agreement will put us behind our major global competitors."

Vonier said he will implore the 90,000 licensed architects who comprise the AIA to continue efforts to combat climate change.

"We will also urge our members throughout the United States and the world to assist cities, states, organizations and citizen groups in meeting the aims of the climate accord," his statement read. "By adhering to our values as a profession that is concerned with human habitat and the health of our environment, we will help to mitigate the harm this decision will do to our economy and to America's stature across the globe."

Future Concerns

Amanda Sturgeon, CEO of the Living Future Institute, also condemned Trump’s action.

“Repeating a history that pillages the future for the next generation in the name of greed is not only short-sighted, it is also proven to cost more in the long term,” said Sturgeon, whose organization promotes the Living Building Standard.

American architecture firms attempted to take pre-emptive steps against Trump’s climate change platform. Days before the president’s January inauguration, about 700 architecture and design firms had representatives sign an open letter urging Trump to reconsider his stance. During his campaign, Trump called climate change a "hoax," though more recently, allies have said that he believes in climate change and that it is partly caused by man.

American Institute of Architects

President Donald J. Trump announced the U.S. would exit the Paris Agreement, which seeks to limit global warming attributed to emissions.

"Because buildings alone account for almost 40 percent of total U.S. energy use and 72 percent  of U.S. electricity use, America's architects are on the front line addressing climate change in a meaningful way," the letter reads.

Taking a Stand

Many in the architecture community may be dismayed over Trump’s decision, but the industry's ability to design sustainable, resilient, and energy-efficient buildings can continue to have an impact on emissions and climate change.

The U.S Green Building Council, which oversees the LEED certification program, vowed Trump’s decision will not affect its mission.

"While the pullout of the U.S. government from the Paris Agreement will be felt across the world, the surge of climate commitments and actions by the private sector, NGOs, governments, cities and states, will only serve to strengthen the green building movement and keep pushing us forward," USCBC president Mahesh Ramanujam said.


Tagged categories: Architecture; Asia Pacific; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Emissions; Environmental Protection; Good Technical Practice; Government; Greenhouse gas; Latin America; North America; President Trump

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