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In the course of human history, extraordinary times surely give rise to extraordinary events.
One such event took place in Shenyang, China on Thursday 22nd October, at an unprecedented meeting initiated by fifty-two key Chinese and international firms responsible for planning and designing thousands of cities, neighborhoods and buildings worldwide.
The meeting, hosted by the China Exploration and Design Association – Architecture Branch (the CEDAAB) and by Architecture 2030, the leading U.S. organization responsible for issuing the 2030 Challenge energy and emission reduction targets, gathered together influential global design and planning leaders with a common mission, to initiate collaborative efforts to dramatically reduce carbon emissions in the built environment. The historic meeting culminated with the signing of the China Accord – a commitment to plan and design all cities, towns, developments and buildings to low-carbon/carbon -eutral standards.
Among the international firm signatories were HKS, Inc., DLR Group, Skidmore Owings & Merrill, ARUP, Gensler, CallisonRTKL, Perkins+Will, HDR and Glumac, to name just a few. Key signatories from various regions in China included Shanghai Xian Dai Architectural Design (Group) Co., Ltd., China Architecture Design & Research Group, Beijing Institute of Architectural Design (Group) Co., Ltd., and the Shenzhen Institute of Building Research Co., Ltd. among others (complete list below).
The significance of the China Accord, and the important meeting which gave rise to it, cannot be overstated. A grand paradigm shift has been set in motion, as profound as the Modern Movement of the 1920s and 30s, in how we shape and develop the global built environment over the next 20 years. During this period, the world is projected to build 80 billion square meters of new buildings in cities worldwide, an area equal to 60% of the entire global building stock. Since more than half of all global construction will take place in China (38%) and North America (the U.S. and Canada 15%), it is incumbent upon the professional design communities in these countries to take a leadership role in planning for a carbon free and truly sustainable future by the middle of this century.
“The China Accord is a historic and transformative initiative taken by leading Chinese and international architecture and planning firms in China. While we have unknowingly contributed to the greenhouse gas emissions problem, we understand our moral and professional responsibility to address the issue if we are to stay within the 2 degree Celsius threshold established by the international scientific community. The Accord is just the beginning of our joint efforts, we have a long and exciting road ahead of us to decarbonize the worldwide built environment.” said Edward Mazria, founder and CEO of the non-profit Architecture 2030.
In order to avoid catastrophic climate change, the world must completely phase out fossil fuel greenhouse gas emissions in the built environment by 2050. The signatories pledged to work diligently do just that, to create cities, towns, and buildings that are models of economic and urban sustainability.
“The signing of the Accord demonstrates the determination and moral obligation by architects and planners, both Chinese and internationally, to shoulder this huge responsibility to tackle climate change by reducing carbon emissions and moving toward zero,” said Chen Zhen, Secretary-General of the CEDAAB.
The China Accord is the private sector’s response to the Chinese government’s efforts to tackle climate change and achieve sustainable growth. It supports the national government’s targets to peak and begin reducing carbon emissions, as well as the State Council’s Green Buildings Action Plan and most recent China-US Joint Presidential Statement on Climate Change.
A number of initiatives including professional training, knowledge sharing events and programs, a broad-based multi-stakeholders forum, and the localization of design and planning strategies utilizing real-time simulation tools will support the implementation of the China Accord.
“There are an infinite number of low-cost and cost saving design and planning strategies that can be implemented to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions.” said Mr Mazria, clarifying a common misunderstanding that greener buildings must cost more, “and the signatories of the China Accord will collaborate on achieving this through training and employing advanced design tools.”
The alliance of the distinguished firms of the China Accord, and the power of collaborative efforts in its implementation, holds great promise for us all in the ongoing battle to tackle climate change.
Read the China Accord here. The following is a list of China Accord signatories:
China Exploration and Design Association - Architecture Branch
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
Cuningham Group Architecture, Inc.
Perkins + Will
Leo A Daly
Moore Ruble Yudell
Shanghai Xian Dai Architectural Design (Group) Co., Ltd
China Architecture Design & Research Group
Beijing Institute of Architectural Design (Group) Co., Ltd.
China Southwest Architectural Design and Research Institute Corp. Ltd
China Northwest Architecture Design and Research Institute Co. Ltd
China Northeast Architectural Design & Research Institute Co., Ltd
Architectural Design and Research Institute of Tsinghua University Co. Ltd
Tongji Architectural Design (Group) Co., Ltd
Central-South Architectural Design Institute Co., Ltd
Tianjin Architecture Design Institute
Dalian Architectural Design & Research Co., Ltd.
Architectural Design and Research Institute of Guangdong Province
Shenzhen General Institute of Architectural Design and Research Co., Ltd
The Architectural Design and Research Institute of HIT
China IPPR International Engineering Co., Ltd
Shandong Provincial Architectural Design Institute
Jiangsu Provincial Architectural D&R Institute Ltd.
Sichuan Provincial Architectural Design and Research Institute
Zhejiang Prov. Institute of Architectural Design and Research
Jiangxi Province Architectural Design & Research General Institute
Shandong Tong Yuan Design Group Co. Ltd
Heilongjiang Institute of Architectural Design
Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Architectural Design & Research Institute
Anhui Provincial Architectural Design and Research Institute Co., Ltd
Fujian Provincial Institute of Architectural Design and Research
Guangxi Hualan Design and Consulting Group
Jilin Provincial Architecture Design Institute Co., Ltd
Shenzhen Institute of Building Research Co. Ltd
The China Accord meeting and signing ceremony was organized by the China Northeast Architectural Design & Research Institute Co., Ltd, a member of CEDAAB in Shenyang, China on October 22, 2015.
About Architecture 2030
Architecture 2030 is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit research organization with the mission of rapidly transforming the built environment from the major contributor of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to a central part of the solution to the climate and energy crises. Architecture 2030 pursues two primary objectives:
For more information visit architecture2030.org, or follow Architecture 2030 on Twitter and Facebook.
HKS, Inc. is a leading architectural design firm ranked among the top six architectural engineering firms, according to Building Design+Construction magazine. Since its founding in 1939, HKS has completed construction projects totaling more than $77 billion in more than 1,650 cities located in 84 countries. The firm operates from 26 offices worldwide.