In our recent post American Institute of Architects takes a stand on climate change I ended up by quoting architect and writer Lance Hosey, and his survey that found “as many as a third of architects are skeptical about climate change.”
Lance tweeted me an update that he just published in Architectural record, a new survey which found that the situation has improved significantly, that now fully 93.6 percent of architects actually believe that human activity is changing the climate.
Given that architects design the buildings that are the single biggest source of greenhouse gases, that’s a good thing. Too bad that less than half of them actually know that. (Until recently, based on my analysis, I thought transportation was the biggest source in America, and I teach this stuff)
And this is all nice talk, but what about action? In an earlier article for Architectural Record, Lance notes that there hasn’t been much, mostly because architects and clients think that it is too expensive. It may be urgent, but its not that urgent.
Yet for more than a decade, numerous studies, including a 2007 report by the construction consulting firm Davis Langdon, have demonstrated that green building need not cost more, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory calculates that adopting current best practices can achieve up to 60 percent reduction in energy without any additional expense. But the perception that higher performance means higher costs is a myth that dies hard.
It is also an issue of education, of which there appears to be very little. The AIA doesn’t require it in continuing education, and the schools? I teach sustainable design at Ryerson University School of Interior design- a one term optional course taken by no more than a third of the students in third year. It should be taught to everyone every year. Architecture schools are not much better; it has fallen off the table.
But who knows, perhaps in the face of adversity, things are looking up. Ed Mazria of Architecture 2030 fame says “The new administration has mobilized the profession. People have new passion around these issues. We’re seeing an urgency to act now.” Wishful thinking?