Architects design in response to many levels of context – rooms in context to other rooms, the building in context to the site, the building and site in context to the greater community, and even the planet. Often, the greater the scale, the more complicated the response.
The building and construction sector is the single largest consumer of energy and producer of greenhouse gases in the US economy. With the threat of climate change, we are all challenged to respond to an issue the size of our planet at the scale of a single building. Addressing climate change is one of the most profound problems we face today, and as designers and builders, we share responsibility for finding solutions.
To that end, Mackey Mitchell Architects has joined the AIA 2030 Commitment to help reverse the role buildings play in contributing to climate change. Beginning in 2010, the American Institute of Architects developed a plan involving a series of targets and tools to help designers on the path towards carbon neutrality. At the heart of the 2030 Commitment is a challenge to improve building efficiency and reduce emissions to achieve carbon-neutral buildings by the year 2030. This effort involves using powerful simulation tools to analyze building design alternatives to optimize building performance. Using intelligent project modeling tools that simulate the energy efficiency of design options early and often in the design process, we are able to quickly inform clients on the relative impact design decisions have on long-term energy utilization, operational cost, and potential environmental impact.
We will not, however, arrive at a carbon-neutral future through design alone. With 40% of the world’s electricity coming from coal generation, and coal accounting for 70% of carbon emissions from the energy sector, energy production must factor into our targets. Buildings must also pull energy from renewable resources whenever possible. This is a consideration of procurement; committing to the long-term future of infrastructure development and ensuring that these energy sources continue to receive the support they need to operate.
By joining the 2030 Commitment, we will educate others and work with our clients to mitigate negative environmental impacts and steadfastly pursue positive change in our buildings, sites, community, and planet.
“Historically, architects and builders have played the role of facilitators and executors that brought to realization the projects of visionary patrons, often enhancing and enriching the patron’s vision with their own inclinations, perspective, and knowledge … always with the overarching goal of achieving the best results possible. By joining the AIA 2030 Commitment, Mackey Mitchell extends that tradition by continuing the excellent service for our clients and encouraging a more sustainable path forward with them one project at a time.”
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