[Earth Day 2020] What is the role of the Lyle Center in a changing world?

'Our future is in your hands' (Shutterstock)
'Our future is in your hands' (Shutterstock)

Pablo La Roche, interim director of the Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies, revisits a 2018 article he authored for DesignIntelligence Quarterly. He asserted that in thinking about the future of sustainable design, we need only look at the earliest examples of architecture and design that responded to site and climate to incorporate natural "passive" climate control strategies.  

We must accept that humans have an impact on climate change and that climate change is the most serious environmental threat facing our planet. Once we accept this fact we must also change our perception that we are dealing with an abstract problem that somebody else will solve or the fatalist vision that it is an impossible problem to solve.

Anthropogenic emissions come from multiple sources. Buildings and agriculture are two important sources of emissions. Buildings generate nearly 40% of annual global greenhouse gas emissions that affect climate change and agricultural production is responsible for the majority of greenhouse-gas emissions from food, about 86% of all food-related anthropogenic greenhouse-gas emissions. Carbon neutral architecture, community organization and regenerative agriculture will have a huge impact on reducing our emissions and we can learn more on how to do this at the center.

We have learned that planning and preparation are crucial, and indifference is dangerous. We cannot create walls around our countries and isolate ourselves or hide our heads in the ground pretending that nothing is happening. We need technical knowledge to innovate and ensure that our ideas will work. Among the many things that we need to do is to design buildings that perform well and are resilient and designed for passive survivability. Agriculture must be regenerative, including farming practices that increase biodiversity and enrich soils by capturing carbon in soil and aboveground biomass, reversing the increasing atmospheric accumulation of greenhouse gases.

Finally, make no mistake: It is not possible to solve the climate change crisis if we don’t work together. Reducing our impact on the climate is an emergency and we must act accordingly.