Architecture and climate action

Earth is the ultimate project. These world overlay and image of the Earth from space.

The built environment is responsible for 40% of carbon emissions. Architects are a part of the solution.

Taking the climate leap

The time for climate discussion has passed. Architects are taking action.

Building on decades of focused commitment, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) is committing the majority of its effort and resources toward leading a landmark initiative to take on climate action. We will expand on current projects, some of which have been in existence since 1990—including the Framework for Design Excellence (formerly known as the COTE Top Ten), to provide 10 measures to guide architects and designers to view their projects through a more holistic lens. We will enhance the 2030 Commitment, which prioritizes energy performance and carbon reductions toward carbon neutral buildings—the initiative strengthens and accelerates AIA’s efforts to support the design of sustainable and resilient communities.

AIA’s leadership is mobilizing to match the urgency of the challenge. AIA is creating a Climate Action Plan designed to establish actionable steps, and provide the tools and resources for architects to achieve climate mitigation and adaptation goals. From advocating for public policy, to supporting renewable energy use in buildings, from reducing carbon emissions through building design and informed product selection, to spurring energy efficient renovations and designing for natural hazard risk – America’s architects have a leading role to play in humanity’s collective call to climate action.

Climate change is real, it is urgent, and architects have the ability to make an immense difference in mitigating and adapting to its impacts. In the coming weeks, AIA will be publishing its Climate Action Plan along with resources to support its implementation and asking all architects and our collaborators to join us in the fight for our future.

Frequently asked questions

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Climate action resources

Design for Integration focuses on the big idea of the project and how design strategies provide multiple benefits across the triple bottom line of social, economic, and environment values.

Framework for Design Excellence: A framework and resources for approaching sustainability and resilience within your project and firms.

COTE Design DataMap: Explore data from past COTE Top Ten Award winners through an interactive map.

Qualities of Resilience​​: Outlines qualities and indicators that contribute to resilience and adaptation goals; providing a lens through which a building or design can be evaluated.

Conducting Vulnerability Assessments: Learn how to conduct vulnerability assessments in new and existing buildings using a step-by-step process to make informed decisions about retrofits, renovations, and repairs to reduce damage from any hazard.

How to integrate resilience into practice: Five tips to make resilience part of your everyday practice.

Sustainable Justice 2030: Green Guide to Justice: White paper discussing the role of the justice system to the continuing viability of our society.

Sustainable Justice Guidelines: Goals, metrics, and targets for designing sustainable facilities for the justice system.  

Image credits

Earth is the ultimate project. These world overlay and image of the Earth from space.