On World Architecture Day, the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) is calling on architects to lead in the fight against climate change and bring discussion of the built environment to the federal election.
World Architecture Day was established in 2005 by the International Union of Architects (UIA) to “remind the world of its collective responsibility for the future of the human habitat.” It is celebrated every year on the first Monday in October to coincide with the United Nations World Habitat Day.
In response to the 2019 World Architecture Day theme, “Architecture…housing for all”, the RAIC is focusing on sustainable and climate-resilient design.
Buildings and climate change
A 2019 federal government report has found that Canada is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world. Extreme weather events damage and destroy housing and increase displacement. Climate-related disasters in Canada have resulted in billions of dollars in damage and are becoming more frequent. For example, the Fort McMurray wildfire (2016), and flooding in Alberta (2013) and Quebec (2017).
The design, construction, and operation of Canada’s buildings account for nearly 40 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions which contribute to global heating. Therefore, buildings represent a significant opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas pollution. As designers and product specifiers, architects can make a big difference. Architecture addresses not only energy-efficiency but also land use, materials choice, construction waste, and water consumption.
Architects in Canada are already designing for sustainability and resilience, and some firms are pledging to increase their efforts by signing a declaration issued on September 20, 2019.
The declaration, titled Canadian Architectural Professionals Declare Climate and Biodiversity Emergency and Commit to Urgent and Sustained Action, is a grassroots effort developed by architects across Canada and members of the RAIC Committee on Regenerative Environments. A companion document, Designing for the future, outlines six actions that Canadian architects can implement to reduce the carbon footprint of their projects. So far, about 150 firms, organizations, and individuals have signed the declaration.
The federal government is Canada’s single largest owner of buildings and land. It should have a central role in setting the highest standards of excellence and environmental sustainability.
During the 2019 election campaign, the RAIC seeks to engage political candidates, along with the public, in a discussion about the importance of architecture and urban design in shaping a sustainable future for Canada.
RAIC Congress 2020
On October 5, 2020 —World Architecture Day 2020 — the RAIC will hold its inaugural RAIC Congress on Architecture in Montebello, QC. The topic will be Climate Change and Architecture in Canada.