Advocacy for the Profession

 

Beyond activities with AIA and other professional organizations, I have used my voice and writing to advocate for the profession in dozens of cities throughout the United States and Canada. My focus has been to bridge between the most “conservative” sector of the architectural marketplace, preserving buildings, and the most innovative, creating sustainable communities. Once considered to be in conflict, my work and words have sought to demonstrate value in the shared stewardship ethic that drives both.

 

Early in my campaign to restate the relevance of historic preservation and adaptive use, I coined the phrase: “The greenest building is…one that is already built.” This has helped shape appreciation for existing buildings and communities, recognizing the value of their embodied material and energy resources as well as the lessons they teach about a world created before universal dependence on fossil fuels.

 

With the rise of a more holistic understanding of sustainability, attention has broadened from focusing primarily on operational energy reduction to also address energy and environmental impacts from the full life cycle of making, operating, maintaining, and adapting buildings. Targets established during COP21 in Paris in December 2015 embrace the importance of using existing resources wisely, specifically addressing the adaptation of existing buildings to transform their consumption of energy and developing strategies to reduce impacts from producing materials and constructing buildings.

 

Based on analysis of the Unites States building stock prepared by Architecture 2030, meeting energy reduction targets in existing buildings will generate thousands of projects each year for decades to come.

 

Erecting this bridge between building conservation and achieving sustainability goals is a powerful example of seizing new relevance and translating it into innovative practice that will drive a generation of prosperity for architects.

Photo courtesy Potomac Valley Brick

© 2019 Carl Elefante