One of the hardest things about the AIA 2030 Commitment is just keeping the faith. After getting your architectural firm to sign up, completing three or four years of reporting and enduring as many setbacks as improvements, sometimes you want to put your head down and just do your work.

But, hey, buck up. The whole world really is watching. (I’m not old enough to remember much from the 1968 Democratic National Convention except that chant!)

It came as very encouraging news to learn that architects all over the world are working on the same building energy use challenges that we are.

Ever heard of the International Union of Architects? They were news to me. The Union Internationale des Architects (or UIA) was founded in Lausanne, Switzerland in 1948. It’s a global federation of the professional architectural organizations from 124 countries that now claims to represent one million three hundred thousand architects. The AIA is a member-organization of the UIA.

You have no doubt heard of the United Nations. The UN does a lot of its work through organizations like UNESCO and the World Health Organization. And the UN recognizes the UIA as the only global association of architects, which gives the UIA a certain amount of – comment dites vous? – clout.

So here’s the big news: at their last World Congress in Durban, South Africa, all of those UIA member organizations voted to adopt something called the 2050 Imperative, an international plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the built environment to zero by mid-century. We’re talking world-wide now.

The 2050 Imperative’s key objectives look like ideas we can certainly get behind. Plan and design cities and buildings to be net zero energy. Promote socially responsible architecture. Give architects the information and tools needed to design buildings that use on-site renewable energy. They also look very familiar.

Why? Because the story within the story is this: Not only did our own professional organization – the AIA – send a delegation to this summit, the word (that didn’t make the press release) is that the 2050 Imperative was jump-started by our very own Ed Mazaria’s short but persuasive keynote address at the AIA Convention in Chicago. You can see Ed’s presentation “Design! Life Depends on It!” here,wherein he introduces us to the 2050 Roadmap and demonstrates how US building energy use reduction fits into the whole big global carbon-neutrality picture.

And that’s not all. Next, the Imperative goes to Paris for the 2015 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the goal of which is to reach binding agreements to phase out all greenhouse gas emissions from energy-using systems by the second half of this century.

(In addition to progress on such important global policy matters, I personally look forward to seeing Ban Ki-moon’s selfie with big Ed. That’ll be a sign that we have truly achieved serious traction.)

So keep the faith, you hard-working signers of the AIA 2030 Commitment. We now have global company. Although it’s hard to imagine one million three hundred thousand architects agreeing on anything, all over the world in offices just like yours they’re working to crank down lighting power density and improve building energy use efficiency.

The whole world is with us.

(8/15/2014 update: As I suspected, Architecture 2030 had more of a hand in this declaration than first disclosed. They initiated it and helped draft the language. See their press release here, plus a list of all the signing architectural associations such as the AIA, RIBA, RAIC, etc. It’s pretty cool.)

(8/27/2014 update: And here’s a link to a New York Times article about that upcoming 2015 climate summit.)

This post originally appeared on the blog of Principal Mike Davis, FAIA

Published Aug 14, 2014