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Green Urban


Cities will be key to a low carbon, resilient global economy able to address and adapt to climate change. Many are emerging as leaders cutting emissions and greening infrastructure. Photo ©Pline

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Urban areas are responsible for more than 70 percent of global energy consumption and CO2 emissions, mostly from buildings, and over the next two decades an area roughly equal to 60 percent of the world’s total building stock is projected to be built and rebuilt in urban areas. In light of this, the International Union of Architects (UIA) has made a significant move by pledging to phase out carbon emissions by buildings by 2050.

The pledge is captured in the 2050 Imperative, unanimously adopted at the recent World Congress of the UIA, which represents about 1.3 million architects in 124 countries worldwide.

The 2050 Imperative states that:

  • Failing to act now on climate change will put future generations, and those already affected by extreme weather, natural disasters, and poverty, at great risk;
  • Urban areas are responsible for over 70 per cent of global CO2 emissions, mostly from buildings;
  • Over the next two decades an area roughly equal to 60 per cent of the world’s building stock will be built and rebuilt in urban areas; and
  • This provides an unprecedented opportunity to reduce fossil fuel CO2 emissions to zero by 2050.


With the adoption of the Imperative, member organizations are charged with promoting the planning and design of carbon neutral cities, towns, urban developments and new buildings in order achieve the 2050 target.

The 2050 Imperative was initiated and drafted by Architecture 2030, a non-profit organization whose mission is to rapidly transform the built environment from being a major contributor of greenhouse gas emissions to a central part of the solution to the climate and energy crises.

The action items in the 2050 Imperative are based in part on the recent “Roadmap to Zero Emissions” developed by Architecture 2030 and presented at the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn in June 2014.

Ed Mazria, founder and CEO of Architecture 2030, delivered a keynote address at the national conference of the American Institute of Architects in June 2014. The short video, entitled 'Design! Life Depends on It', lays out the blueprint for a carbon-free building sector environment by 2050, reviews the progress made in the building sector since issuing the 2030 Challenge in 2006 outlines the critical role architects and designers must play in securing a livable future.

Mr. Mazria will give the presentation at a special symposium on 24 September at the Center for Architecture in New York. On the same day, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres will speak at a private event at the Empire State Building hosted by Skanska, a leader on green buildings. Both events are being held on the margins of the UN Secretary-General's Climate Summit on 24 September.

Read article on cost-effectiveness of green building.

City photo by Sathya

Skyscraper photo by Ricardo Diaz

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