Australian Architects Declare Climate & Biodiversity Emergency

The twin crises of climate breakdown and biodiversity loss are the most serious issue of our time. Globally, buildings and construction play a major part, accounting for nearly 40% of energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions whilst also having a significant impact on our natural habitats.

For everyone working in the construction industry, meeting the needs of our society without breaching the earth’s ecological boundaries will demand a paradigm shift in our behaviour. Together with our clients, we will need to commission and design buildings, cities and infrastructures as indivisible components of a larger, constantly regenerating and self-sustaining system.

The research and technology exist for us to begin that transformation now, but what has been lacking is collective will. Recognising this, we are committing to strengthen our working practices to create architecture and urbanism that has a more positive impact on the world around us.

We will seek to:

– Raise awareness of the climate and biodiversity emergencies and the urgent need for action amongst our clients and supply chains.
– Advocate for faster change in our industry towards regenerative design practices and a higher Governmental funding priority to support this.
– Establish climate and biodiversity mitigation principles as the key measure of our industry’s success: demonstrated through awards, prizes and listings.
– Share knowledge and research to that end on an open source basis.
– Evaluate all new projects against the aspiration to contribute positively to mitigating
climate breakdown, and encourage our clients to adopt this approach.
– Upgrade existing buildings for extended use as a more carbon efficient alternative to
demolition and new build whenever there is a viable choice.
– Include life cycle costing, whole life carbon modelling and post occupancy evaluation as
part of our basic scope of work, to reduce both embodied and operational resource use.
– Adopt more regenerative design principles in our studios, with the aim of designing
architecture and urbanism that goes beyond the standard of net zero carbon in use.
– Collaborate with engineers, contractors and clients to further reduce construction waste.
– Accelerate the shift to low embodied carbon materials in all our work.
– Minimise wasteful use of resources in architecture and urban planning, both in quantum
and in detail.

In Australia, we as architects are aware that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have long espoused the cultural, social, economic and environmental benefits embedded in the holistic relationship of Caring for Country.

Founding signatories:

ARM Architecture, Alec Tzannes, Bates Smart, Breathe Architecture, Brit Andresen, BVN, Circa Morris-Nunn, Clare Design, Design 5, dwp | design worldwide partnership, FJMT, TheFulcrum.Agency, Glenn Murcutt, Greenaway Architects, Gregory Burgess Architects, Hassell, Iredale Pedersen Hook, Jackson Clements Burrows (JCB), John Wardle Architects, Ken Maher, Kerstin Thompson Architects, Koning Eizenberg Architecture, Inc., Liminal Studio, Partners Hill, Peter Stutchbury, Rick Leplastrier, Six Degrees, Taylor and Hinds Architects, TKD Architects, Troppo, and Woods Bagot.

We hope that every Australian architectural practice will join us in making this commitment.

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