New Mexico Think-Tank Spurs Unanimous Implementation of “2050 Imperative” for Zero Carbon Emissions at World Congress of Architects

Courtesy Construction Reporter News.

By Tami Brunk

September 15, 2014

On August 8 of this year, the International Union of Architects voted unanimously to adopt the “2050 Imperative” which would reduce carbon emissions to zero in 35 years at their World Congress in Durban, South Africa. Member organizations representing over 1.3 million architects in 124 countries adopted the declaration.

The imperative was initiated and drafted by Architecture 2030, a New Mexico-based think tank that has spurred such national movements as the 2030 Challenge, the 2030 Challenge for Products, 2030 Districts, and has most recently developed the 2030 Palette, an open-source online sustainable design tool.

Tami Brunk, environmental writer at Construction Reporter interviewed Architecture 2030 Founder and CEO and Albuquerque native Ed Mazria about this significant achievement by his firm and its ramifications for the built environment across the globe.

T.B. Why did Architecture 2030 Develop the Imperative?

E. M. We helped draft the imperative because urban areas are responsible for over 70% of global energy consumption and CO2 emissions, mostly from buildings. Over the next two decades, an area roughly equal to 60% of the total building stock of the world is projected to be built and rebuilt in urban areas worldwide.

This provides an unprecedented opportunity to reduce fossil fuel CO2 emissions by setting the global building sector on a path to phase out CO2 emissions by 2050. We’re already making progress on reducing the emissions from buildings in the US and elsewhere in the world, but not taking advantage of this opportunity could see the global temperature increase to irreversible levels.

T.B. What is the significance of the UIA adopting the Imperative?

E.M. When organizations representing 1.3 million architects in 125 countries sign on to the imperative it sends a clear message that the building sector is prepared to play an important role in working to mitigate the risks of climate change. It also makes it easier for countries to negotiate carbon reduction deals, knowing that a large number of the people who will have to meet those reduction targets are committed to the challenge and have a plan for how to achieve them.

T.B. Any specific feedback from representatives of other countries regarding the imperative that might be interesting to know about?

E.M. The American Insitute of Architects brought the Imperative to Durban, and the Australian Institute of Architects guided it through a number of committees and introduced it onto the floor. The unanimous adoption is unprecedented in the history of the UIA.

T.B. What, to you, is the most exciting implication of the universal adoption of this initiative?

E.M The most exciting implication is that the architecture community globally is speaking with one voice on the issue of climate change, and offering a solution to a major part of the problem.

T.B. How is it that the international architectural community can manage to come to agreement about an issue that impacts climate change, yet other international groups seem unable to do so?

E.M. Architects are creative problem-solvers. Give them a problem, even one as daunting as climate change, and they’ll design their way out of it. A transformation is taking place in the building sector as we apply new technologies and proven design strategies to build high-performance low carbon buildings. That’s the kind of practical building by building, city by city solution that works whatever politics might be in play at a national or international level.

T.B. Will this Imperative play a role in the 2015 Paris meeting?

E.M. The 2050 Imperative is based on our recent “Roadmap to Zero Emissions” plan, which was presented at the UNFCCC Climate meeting in Bonn, Germany in June, and outlines how the built environment can meet the targets of the 2050 Imperative. As the world’s leaders prepare for the meeting in Paris, the 2050 Imperative and the Roadmap illustrate both the necessity of action and that getting to zero emissions is possible.

Read the Roadmap to Zero Emissions document here.

Read the full Imperative Declaration here.

(Original article can be found at