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To Reduce Carbon Emissions, Focus on Existing Buildings

Architects are uniquely positioned to reduce global warming, argues the CEO of Urban Green Council—but first they need to rethink their role.
November 18, 2019, 2pm PST | Walker
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New Hampshire

Urban Green Council, a New York City-based nonprofit, seeks to make cities more sustainable by improving their building stock. Since it was founded in 2002, the organization has played an important part in the development of ambitious government policies in its hometown. One of these, Local Law 97, broke new ground in climate legislation earlier this year by setting carbon emissions caps for buildings over 25,000 square feet.

In an interview with The Architectural League of New York, Urban Green CEO John Mandyck says that architects have a critical role to play in reducing building emissions, but that to realize this potential, they need to shift from designing new buildings to retrofitting existing structures, as well as educating owners about the benefits of green design—and the risks associated with inaction.

"I think the market completely overlooks the fact that New York has $3 trillion of insured coastal properties. That’s twice the GDP of Canada," he said. "From a value preservation standpoint, we have a lot at stake in the existing built environment that is completely at risk to climate change. Architects can help building owners understand the economic benefits of a low-carbon building in a way that others may not be able to do."

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Published on Monday, November 18, 2019 in The Architectural League of New York
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