As students take to the streets around the world to demand action on climate change, Canadian architects are also engaged in the fight against this global issue.
Today, the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada’s (RAIC) Committee on Regenerative Environments is calling on Canadian architectural and design firms to commit to combating the climate crisis by signing a new Canadian Architects Declare pledge.
Architects all over the world support students in the Global Climate Strikes, some even take part in them or let their employees do so.
These demonstrations come ahead of the UN Climate Action Summit in New York next week.
In Canada, a nationwide demonstration is scheduled for September 27, during which students and adults will go on strike to demand climate action. Young Swedish activist Greta Thunberg will be in Montreal to participate in the march.
To understand what the declaration, titled Canadian Architectural Professionals Declare Climate and Biodiversity Emergency and Commit to Urgent and Sustained Action, meant, we spoke to Mona Lemoine, MRAIC, chair of the committee and an architect based in Vancouver, BC.
Concrete actions to be taken
As Lemoine explains, architects have a real power of change in the face of climate change. I asked her what they can concretely do:
Lemoine’s firm already is already working on sustainable projects such as the VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre in Vancouver.
The declaration also gives specifications as to the actions architects can take and should take if they sign this declaration, including:
- Design for holistic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
- Advocate for investments in a rapid transition to resilient climate-positive alternatives.
- Eliminate waste and harm and support a quick transition to circular economies.
- Design for holistic health, resilience, and regeneration; respecting the rights and wisdom of Indigenous Peoples.
- Adopt regenerative design principles and practices to design and develop projects and environments that go beyond the standard of net zero in use.
- Advocate for the rapid systemic changes required to address the climate and ecological health crises, as well as the policies, funding priorities, and implementation frameworks that support them.
“Our interconnected crises of climate breakdown, ecological degradation, and societal inequity are the most serious issues of our time,” says the Canadian statement.
WATCH – Project consisting of a mixed-use transit-oriented development in Vancouver by Marine Gateway (Courtesy: Perkins and Will).
This idea of creating a Canadian declaration for architects is the first of its kind, as Mona Lemoine explained to me:
RAIC’s committee encourages architects, designers, but also architectural firms to sign the declaration.
If you are interested, you can go to ca.architectsdeclare.com. There you can register your practice or your organisation.