It’s a miracle that we know that climate change exists when just decades ago we had the first image of the globe. And not only do we know that it exists, but we know how it happened and how to combat the negative consequences. We are in control.

That’s exactly what Ned Cramer, Assoc. AIA, editor-in-chief, ARCHITECT and vice president, editorial at Hanley Wood, presented to the HIVE audience at the conference in December. His exploration of climate change, also featured here, points out that the tools to change exist and are accessible, so it’s time to act. Watch his video presentation below.

He cites some projects, like the Rocky Mountain Institute, that prove the effectiveness of the solutions that are available today. This project was designed to produce more energy than it consumes, and if every building was designed this way, we’d have a good case for the combat against global warming.

Doug Kelbaugh, FAIA, Emil Lorch Collegiate Professor of Architecture and Urban Planning and Dean Emeritus at the Taubman College of Architecture & Urban Planning, University of Michigan, has a book coming out that focuses on starting the approach to climate change in urban heat islands. Kelbaugh promotes designs to manage urban heat islands for the effectiveness in the short term. He recommends three urban cooling strategies and tactics—albedo enhancement, sensible heat reduction, and cool micro-climates.

Urban heat islands raise the temperature in core metros, which makes them unattractive as a housing option. This pushes people to move to the suburbs, spread out, and have increasingly wasteful lifestyles with higher energy consumption. Kelbaugh proposes designs that incorporate lighter colored surfaces, more trees, better transportation options, and solar powered AC, among other changes.

Through this approach to reduce urban heat islands, Kelbaugh says, “the environmental, climate, and population benefits of cities are harnessed.”

He demonstrates that cities of similar sizes, like Atlanta and Barcelona, have very different carbon productivity, which illustrates that design can impact climate change. Between Atlanta and Barcelona there is clearly a difference in the design of these two cities, which is reflected in their carbon emissions.

In this subsequent video, Cramer challenged his panel of William McDonough, co-author, Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things; Adrian Foley, COO, Brookfield Residential Group, California; Serene Al-Momen, co-founder and CEO,; and Jerry Paffendorf, co-founder and CEO, Loveland Technologies, to explore where innovation fits into action that can transform how the built environment is designed to work.

“We are here to thrive," McDonough says. "So I think we need something very dramatic. And it needs to be very attractive and it needs to be very fast.”

Combating climate change is in our control, and it starts now.

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