Preparing for the COP24 Delegation

Action on climate change is important to me for many reasons.

The projections of continued increased temperatures and severe weather events, loss of biodiversity, ecosystem changes, etc., can be truly terrifying. The biggest reason I’m passionate about fighting climate change are my three kids. I often think of the Native American proverb “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” I want them to have the opportunity to grow up in and experience a beautiful and diverse natural world. Even in the most optimistic climate change projection models, their world will be significantly different from the one I have experienced, and drastically different than the one their grandparents and great-grandparents did.

Climate change and architecture are inextricably linked. There is the obvious connection: how climate change-induced severe weather events affect buildings and the built environment. We have all seen destroyed buildings, roads, and bridges in the news after being hit by floods, hurricanes, wildfires, etc. The less obvious connection is the fact that globally buildings account for about 40% of the CO2 emissions. U.S. buildings account for nearly 50% of our CO2 emissions.  

As an Architect, I can be part of the problem, or I can be part of the solution.  

A little over a decade ago, Ed Mazria, an Architect in New Mexico, introduced the 2030 Challenge. The program challenged architects to design buildings to reduce their energy use by 50% from an average building. Every five years the goal increases by 10% until the year 2030, when all new buildings are to operate on a carbon neutral basis. Currently, the goal is 70% better than average. Numerous organizations and government agencies around the world have adopted these targets, including the state of Minnesota. Buildings that get state funding in Minnesota must meet these energy reduction targets.       

I hope the people and countries of the world can continue their incredibly important work towards reducing climate impacts. The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report clearly stated that our window to avoid the most catastrophic changes is rapidly closing.  We have a little over a decade to remake the world economy. This will take everyone working together for the common good of the inhabitants of our planet.    

I’m excited to visit Poland for several reasons. My maternal grandfather’s family came to the U.S. from Poland. I’m excited to experience the country, culture, and the food. However, I’m most excited to see the climate negotiations in person and meet passionate people from all over the world and learn what they are doing in their home countries.

Here at home, I love exploring the diverse landscapes of Minnesota, especially spending time camping and hiking with family and friends.

I have had great times in the BWCA with coworkers.  There have been other great trips with great friends to the headwaters of the Mississippi, Southeastern Minnesota, and Lake Mille Lacs, among other places. Last summer my wife, kids, and I explored the North Shore for almost a week. There were several stops along the way to skip rocks into the lake, hike to amazing waterfalls, and just to watch the waves crashing onto the beach. However, my favorite place to be outdoors in Minnesota is the small farm in central Minnesota where I grew up. There are treasured places and memories for me and several generations of my family, in every field, behind every tree, and around every bend in the river.

 

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