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A Renewed Commitment in the Face of Change

Inspired by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

by Elizabeth DiSalvo

Nov 10, 2016

Recent political events in the US have been disheartening, however another world event has inspired me to ‘up my game’ with regards to combatting climate change.  I am writing with the hopes of inspiring you to do the same.

Last year, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (the UNFCCC) took place in Paris. The result: Paris 2030. The historic Paris Climate Change Agreement adopted in 2015 that will ‘enter into force’ on November 4th, 2016.   The whole world voted unanimously to help the environment. Unprecedented.

Under the Paris Agreement, all nations have agreed to combat climate change and to unleash actions and investment towards a low carbon, resilient and sustainable future that will keep a global average temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius with the accepted international aim of working to limit it to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

This year the Convention will be held in Marrakech, Morocco.  In Morocco, the teams of delegates from every country will gather for three weeks to figure out the first steps toward reaching the set goals.

I am thrilled to be attending the conference.  I am attending as an observer, of course, and will not be privy to the inner workings; however I am attending as an invitee.  Our project for the Taft School is receiving an international award at the convention.  Our project was chosen to receive a ‘Special Mention Award’, one of approximately a dozen such awards for single family homes around the world that are far exceeding expectations in reducing the planet’s carbon burden.  

In order for the United States to meet its end of the bargain for Paris 2030, we will all have to do our part.  Before the election, I would have guessed that the meetings in Morocco would lead to more stringent US energy codes.  Construction accounts for 40% of carbon emission in the US.  What you build can truly make a difference. We aren't sure what the future brings, all we can do is keep on track and keep the message strong.

If you and your team have made any sort commitment to the environment, let the Paris Agreements be your inspiration.  I understand that the idea of constructing buildings that will save the environment can seem daunting; I also understand that for many of us it is easy.  The buildings we design and build already far surpass all US energy codes.  If you see a way to helps others achieve what we all know is possible, reach out, take the lead. We are the leaders in this charge. Rather than fold in the face of adversity, lets double down and say loudly and proudly that we will not be deterred.

Remember, if a building is NOT constructed to last 100 years and be close to Net Zero, then that building is not only wasting money in the long term, but it is hurting rather than helping.  ‘First, do no harm’; let that be our guide as well.

 

Below is my firm's renewed commitment:

For our part we will continue, and add to, our original commitment in the following ways:

·       We will continue to only design buildings that meet or far exceed the most stringent US Energy Codes (this includes commercial buildings and residential additions).

·       100% of our new homes will be Net Zero or Zero Energy Ready.

·       We will continue to speak and write with the purpose of inspiring others.

·       We will continue to work together to create positive, happy, work environments, job sites, homes and gathering spaces.

·       We will continue to build the most energy efficient and resilient structures as are financially responsible, and to evolve the definition of these as technologies and knowledge evolve.

·       We will continue to not use vinyl and other building materials that are detrimental to our health or our environment.

·       We vow to select both construction and finish material of low embodied energy in regards to all categories including but not limited to: manufacturing, production, shipping, assembly, lifelong upkeep, and landfill potential.

·       We will continue to create excellent Indoor Air Quality in all of our homes.

·       We will continue to create ‘Forever Homes’ that people love enough to never want to tear down.

·       We vow to never stop learning and growing, with the intention of always striving to make the world a better place

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Elizabeth Di Salvo, founding partner of Trillium Architects in Fairfield County, CT, has been actively designing sustainable, ecological and energy efficient buildings since 1992. She first attended NESEA in 1994, and formed Trillium Architects in 2004 with the sole purpose of producing small, beautiful, green houses.

Elizabeth grew up in the industry, has a five year professional degree in architecture from Rensselaer, and a master’s degree in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University. She has spent time working in large architecture firms in Los Angeles, CT and NYC...

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