Architects key to controlling emissions

As responsibility to meet Kyoto Protocol standards mount, members of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada are stepping forward and offering long years of expertise in energy savings and controlling greenhouse gas emissions through their holistic view of the building process.

Architects serve as advisors during the building process. As designers of buildings and communities, architects negotiate between human participantsusers, developers, regulators, decision-makersand the environment. They stand in for the natural world, ensuring it is not something distinct and outside of architectural and urban design processes, but "heard" and thoughtfully considered in every aspect from planning and design to construction and maintenance. They bring together diverse requirements and disciplines, while serving the public interest and addressing health and safety matters.

"With 30 to 40 percent of all energy being consumed by buildings, it is natural that architects are in the position to help ensure Canada meets its commitments in the Kyoto Protocol," says Jon Hobbs, Executive Director of the RAIC. "Add to that the issues surrounding urban sprawl and the fact it encourages greater energy consumption and thereby increased emissions, and our profession’s ability to retrofit and bring about urban intensification puts us in a key position to offer creative solutions."

RAIC members have been embracing the greening of Canada. Professional development courses regularly centre on sustainable design, and the Institute has established recommendations for its membership entitled Sustainability and the Built-Environment.

"It is critical that planning at all levels encompass entire regions to ensure an integrated approach to sustainable planning," adds Hobbs. "Currently what we see is a lack of inter-governmental co-operation and inter-jurisdictional co-operation and land use planning. As a profession we believe we can offer our expertise and lead Canada to a greener future."

The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada is a voluntary national association established in 1907 as the voice for architecture and its practice in Canada. Representing more than 3,200 architects, the RAIC provides the national framework for the development and recognition of architectural excellence.