Over the past few years, the architecture profession has turned a corner, significantly ramping up its commitments and contributions to confronting the climate crisis. Since the Glasgow Climate Change Conference in November, the importance of eliminating greenhouse gas pollution from the building sector is acknowledged much more broadly in industry, finance, and government both in the United States and globally. The search has intensified for principles, practices, policies, and programs that accelerate the decarbonization of buildings and cities.
The 2021 building energy codes require high-performance design at many levels. Cities across the U.S.—including New York and San Jose, Calif.—are requiring all new buildings to use no on-site fossil fuels—gas, oil, or propane—and to be 100% powered by on-site or off-site renewable energy, often in keeping with the Zero Code and 2021 International Energy Conservation Code Appendix CC. Examples of architecture that achieve the highest level of design and performance can be found in every issue of this magazine and in the design awards programs of local American Institute of Architects chapters.