Architects sign global pact to protect evironment

June 22, 1993|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,Staff Writer

CHICAGO -- Alarmed by threats to the global environment, representatives of the world's largest gathering of architects yesterday signed a "declaration of interdependence" outlining a commitment to place environmental concerns at the forefront of the building process.

Leaders of the American Institute of Architects and the International Union of Architects -- representing more than 900,000 architects from nearly 100 countries -- drafted the document during a four-day convention that was conceived as a follow-up to the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janiero, Brazil.

"We are all concerned about the way we are exploiting this fragile Earth of ours," said Nigerian architect Olufemi Majekodunmi, president of the IUA. "The architects of the world definitely have to do something."

"This is a momentous occasion, that so many groups would come together to work for sustainable development," said AIA president Susan Maxman. "It has planted a seed; it has planted a vision."

Sustainable development is defined as meeting the needs of the present generation without jeopardizing the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Architects are important because half of the energy consumed around the world is spent constructing, heating, lighting or demolishing buildings, according to Swedish architect Nils Carlson, general secretary of the international group.

The pact calls for architects to foster the concept of sustainable development by taking the following actions:

* Place it at the core of their professional responsibilities;

* Develop and continually improve practices and standards with that in mind;

* Educate fellow professionals and the general public about its importance;

* Establish policies and regulations in government and business to ensure that it becomes normal practice, and

* Bring all existing and future elements of man-made environments -- their design, production, use and eventual reuse -- up to sustainable design standards.

To reinforce the new commitment, Ms. Maxman and leaders of seven other design-related organizations signed a side agreement that establishes a "partnership for sustainable development."

The participants included heads of groups representing the nation's engineers, city planners, and landscape architects.

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