More than 60 influential international architecture, landscape architecture, engineering, planning, and construction firms — along with two dozen organizations representing over one million building industry professionals worldwide — challenged leaders headed to the United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland to step up their emissions reduction targets for the built environment. The 1.5°C COP26 Communiqué is an open letter to sovereign governments demonstrating the firms’ and organizations’ commitment to meet the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C carbon budget and demanding governments do the same.
The UN granted permission for select organizations to participate in COP26 activities, so ASHRAE formally participated as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) and an official COP observer. ASHRAE’s focus at the event was to emphasize the importance of the building community’s participation in addressing the climate crisis. Architecture 2030 and ASHRAE hosted a COP26 Official Side Event on November 10 featuring the 1.5°C COP26 Communiqué and its signatories. The event, titled 65% by 2030 / ZERO by 2040: Top 200 Global Firms and Organizations Lead With 1.5°C Climate Actions, highlighted ways in which the signatories are responding to the urgency of the climate crisis and specific actions to decarbonize the built world and meet the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C carbon budget.
At the side event, 2021-22 ASHRAE Treasurer Ginger Scoggins, P.E., Fellow ASHRAE, CEM, CxA, highlighted the world’s growing building stock and the role of built environment organizations, such as ASHRAE, in assisting both policymakers and industry leaders in better understanding their impact on our climate change solutions.
“ASHRAE signed onto the 1.5°C COP26 Communiqué and we are here today because engineers and scientists involved with HVACR and building systems have been and will continue to be advancing solutions to address climate change,” said Scoggins. “We are here because we recognize that the built environment is a key source contributing to the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and with the building stock continuing to expand and doubling by 2050, solutions from the buildings community is ever more critical.”
Additionally, Scoggins spoke about the credibility of ASHRAE’s technical resources and global standing in the development of consensus-based standards.
“ASHRAE’s flagship Energy Conservation Standard 90.1 is the benchmark for commercial building energy codes in the United States and has been a key basis for codes and standards around the world for more than 45 years, reducing energy consumption by 50%, yet only 38 countries have specifically named building standards and codes in their Nationally Determined Contributions,” said Scoggins. “Many of the countries where the building stock is expected to grow do not require energy standards for buildings. ASHRAE signed the buildings industry’s communique, and we are ready to help policy makers and the buildings industry around the world transform our building stock into one that is sustainable, resilient, and healthy. We are here to be part of the solution and we are up to the challenge.”
In a separate statement, 2021-21 ASHRAE President Mick Schwedler, P.E., Fellow ASHRAE, LEED AP, commented on ASHRAE’s participation at COP26 and shared additional ways that the Society is addressing climate change.
“ASHRAE’s climate action efforts exemplify the Society’s core dedication to engineering excellence in environmental stewardship,” said Schwedler. “The ASHRAE Global Headquarters building renovation project demonstrates that existing buildings can be transformed into net-zero-energy structures cost-effectively, using current off-the shelf technologies. Our Advanced Energy Design Guides, developed with our partners, provide zero energy K-12 schools and office buildings guides to equip designers in achieving zero energy and significantly reducing carbon. ASHRAE is proud to work with other world leaders to not only raise awareness of the issues surrounding climate change, but collectively seek to redefine the built environment for the times and continually explore what is possible through industry leading innovation.”
You can watch a recording of the side event on the ASHRAE Task Force For Building Decarbonization webpage.