How to Turn Down the Global Thermostat

One year ago, in the October 2003 issue of Metropolis, we introduced Santa Fe-based architect Ed Mazria, a veteran of green design. The article “Turning Down the Global Thermostat” documented his research on mitigating global warming through architecture, as well as proposed a few simple solutions that, if implemented, would radically improve the way buildings are designed. Since the article’s publication, Ed has continued to rally his profession to acknowledge the critical role it plays in reducing the nation’s energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. His focus has not been just on reaching practicing architects, but also on educating architecture and design students and professors; he’s also trying to reach real estate developers and government officials—key people who can initiate change and drive the architecture profession forward.

Last fall, Metropolis editor in chief Susan S. Szenasy teamed up with Mazria to produce a series of conferences in Santa Fe, Los Angeles, and New York that posed the question, “Who holds the key to the global thermostat?” Each event featured speakers with relevant expertise—scientists studying climate change, journalists reporting on the environment, and elected government officials who draft legislation, to name a few—to educate the audience on the science of global warming and critically address Mazria’s proposal for change.

Mazria’s lecture in its entirety and the speeches presented by each of the panelists at the Santa Fe conference, held on September 20, 2003, are posted below. In the coming weeks we will post transcripts from the New York event, held on November 5, 2003.

Key to the Global Thermostat
September 20, 2003
Presented by AIA New Mexico and Metropolis Magazine

Keynote Speaker: Ed Mazria, Architect, Mazria Odems Dzurec
“We need a revolution in architecture…Architects are responsible for close to 50 percent of the total energy consumption in this country and close to 50 percent of total emissions. So, if you want to make significant reductions…If you want to attack the problem, this is where we have to attack it. And attack it we can. It’s not that difficult.”— Ed Mazria
(To download a PDF of the full speech, click here. A PowerPoint version is also available here.)

Guest Speaker: Tom Udall, Congressman, New Mexico
“Conservation and efficiency really make a difference. Since 1970, the U.S. obtained four times more energy from conservation and efficiency than from production. I think the next big gains…are in buildings, in architecture, in building materials, in thinking through—as I learned from Ed Mazria and reading his articles—the whole idea of how we build and the impact it has on global warming.” — Tom Udall
(To download a PDF of the full speech, click here.)

Panelists:

Dr. Chick Keller, Climate-change scientist, Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics at Los Alamos
“By the time global warming unequivocally comes up above the noise, it’ll probably be too late to do much about it. So we have this paradigm of trying to figure out what we should do before we know how bad the problem’s going to be.” — Charles “Chick” Keller
(To download a PDF of the full speech, click here.)

Norman Strong, Architect, Miller Hull Partnership
“I think as architects, we need to view every project as an energy project.” — Norman Strong
(To download a PDF of the full speech, click here.)

Dr. Geoffrey West, Biophysicist, Los Alamos National Laboratory
“Are we actually behaving in the way disruptive elements inside us behave when they start violating the rules? Are we simply a tumor growing in the great panoply of organisms? — Dr. Geoffrey West
(To download a PDF of the full speech, click here.)

V.B. Price, Reporter, Albuquerque Tribune
“It’s part of America’s cultural ethos—pragmatism—to break bad habits and form new ones. This is what we have always done…One might say that a new pragmatic role in the battle of survival that architects and those who write about architecture must play is simply educating clients and their funders in the very practical alternatives to building based on waste and the illusion of limitlessness.” — V.B. Price
(To download a PDF of the full speech, click here.)

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Q&A led by Susan Szenasy featuring Ed Mazria and panelists Geoffrey West, Chick Keller, Tom Udall, Norman Strong, and V.B. Price.
(To download a PDF of the full speech, click here.)

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The Santa Fe “Key to the Global Thermostat” symposium was sponsored by the Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department of the State of New Mexico; the Jaynes Corporation; the Los Alamos National Bank; the McCune Charitable Foundation; the University of New Mexico School of Architecture and Planning; the New Mexico Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council; and the Albuquerque and Santa Fe chapters of the American Institute of Architects.

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