Over the course of 2020, we have seen the effects of climate change and infectious disease. Both disproportionally affect underprivileged communities who often lack access to healthcare or the ability to relocate. Architecture firms have an opportunity to invest in climate change and COVID recovery– including renewable energy and green technology– in a way that creates a better future for everyone.
Climate Change and Global Health Are Connected
Not only does global climate change increase the likelihood of infectious diseases like COVID, it inevitably compounds the problem by making the economy and its infrastructure more vulnerable. In addition, air pollution has a negative impact on both global health and the environment. Architects, however, are in a position to make a real difference by investing in COVID recovery.
Take a Net Zero Approach to Design
Clean energy systems is one area firms need to invest in. By promoting zero-carbon strategies, architects can help corporations reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and combat some of the consequences of climate change, such as wildfires and other natural disasters. Over time, clean energy also benefits global health by reducing air pollution and providing workers with healthier work environments.
Focus on Access
Things like renewable energy, safe public transportation, and well-stocked hospitals are important when addressing the issues of COVID response and climate change, but what really matters is access. If investments in health and the environment only happen in wealthier communities, they will only worsen inequality. It is important that disenfranchised communities have access to clean energy and that these groups can benefit from the jobs that investments into infrastructure create.
Address Vulnerabilities in Urban Planning
COVID has put a spotlight on many of the weaknesses in how cities have been designed. Cities aren’t designed to accommodate social distancing. They also have many shortcomings when it comes to sanitation. Architects are in a position where they can help contribute to urban designs that promote healthy and economic opportunity for everyone. It is especially important to consider the needs of essential workers. They can’t work remotely. Cities need to be designed in a way that essential workers can commute to work safely and stay healthy as they work.
Both climate change and infectious diseases like COVID have a lot of implications about the future. As we move forward, we need to think about how we can help build a world that is safe and healthy for everyone. As design firms invest in COVID recovery, it is important to also invest in clean energy, public transportation, hospitals, and the economy; yet it is also important to make sure disenfranchised groups and essential workers can benefit from these investments equitably.
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