UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Navigating Climate Change: Rethinking the Role of Buildings Cole, Raymond J.


This paper focuses on the design of buildings as part of society’s response to the climate crisis in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. It draws on a broad literature to address two interrelated goals—first, to align regenerative development and design with the necessary bottom-up adaptation strategies and human agency, and second, to identify new, broader possible roles of buildings and responsibilities of design professionals. This required a comparison of current green building and emerging regenerative approaches and identifying the relevant characteristics of top-down and bottom-up mechanisms. The paper accepts that adaptation to climate change will, to a large extent, depend on people’s day-to-day actions in the places they live, and argues that the built environment will have to be infused with the capability to enable inhabitants’ greater agency. Viewing buildings as playing a connective role in the existing urban fabric seriously challenges the primacy of the individual building as the focus of environmental strategies. The roles of building design professionals will likely expand to include mediating between top-down imposed government controls and increasing bottom-up neighborhood-scale social activism.

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CC BY 4.0