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Architectrue and the Environment: Challenge & Change I

Dr. Steiner: Good morning. Wow, what a wonderful turnout, what a marvelous day. Thank you all for being here. I'd like to amplify just a couple of the comments that Boone made and then bring our panel up. They're going to come up one at a time to give their presentations because they'd like to see the other presentations as well.

The topic of the first session this morning is Architecture and Environment. Those are two words that one doesn't always associate with each other. When we think of architecture, the first thing we, at least that I, think of is buildings. Buildings are obviously extremely important to architecture and to the environment.

As Boone just pointed out, around 50 percent of our energy consumption in the United States comes from buildings. If we're concerned about greenhouse gases, then we should be aware that 50 percent of CO2 production comes from buildings. We think of buildings individually, but we need to think of buildings in terms of a network: how they relate to a culture, how they relate to other buildings in the built environment. About 25 percent of our energy use in the United States, and also about 25 percent of our greenhouse gas production, comes from transportation. You put buildings together with transportation and that means at least 75 percent of both our energy challenge and our greenhouse gas challenge comes from the built environment.

This comes at a time when we're living in the first urban century. It's a very, very profound change in human history. Sometime in the last two or three years, over half of the world's population became urban. The percentage of urban dwellers is expected to continue to increase into the 21st century. By 2030 or 2040 about two-thirds of the planet will live in urban regions. This comes at a time when the population is growing rapidly, too. At the beginning of the 20th century there were about 2 billion people on the planet Earth. There are now about 6.7, 6.8 billion people. That's supposed to go up to 9 billion people by mid-century or the end of the century.

Unlike other developed countries, the United States is growing. We've exceeded 300 million people and are expected to hit 400 million by 2040. Right in the middle of that growth is Texas, which is one of the fastest growing states in the nation. Sometimes I think our legislature doesn't quite realize this, but we've become an urban state. While we have a rural and cowboy ethos, we are very much an urban state.

Here in San Antonio we're part of the base of what's been called the “Texas Triangle,” with San Antonio and Houston at its base and Fort Worth and Dallas at its apex. This is one of the eleven fastest growing mega-regions in the United States.

To come back to that energy use and carbon use for which the built environment is responsible, because of population growth, during this century we're going to have to double, maybe even triple the number of buildings we have here in Texas. That simply means we can't keep building buildings the way we have in the past; it's clearly unsustainable.

So with that, it's my pleasure to welcome three wonderful speakers. Their bios are in your packet, so I won't repeat them. We're really privileged to have Marilyn Taylor as our keynote speaker this morning. She is the new dean at The University of Pennsylvania. In Austin, my predecessors, Hal Box and Larry Speck, are called the old deans and after seven years I’m still called the new dean, which is a nice thing; but, Marilyn is really a new dean, only a couple months on the job. She has had a very distinguished leadership career with the architecture firm SOM, one of the largest and most important architecture practices in the world, and also as a leader of the Urban Land Institute. She's going to give a keynote address on Architecture and the City and the Post Carbon World.

She'll be followed by Steve Murdock, who is the head of the U.S. Census Bureau, and we’re really fortunate that he's come back to Texas for this session to help us understand the demographics. Our third panelist this morning is Steven Moore, my colleague at The University of Texas at Austin who approaches architecture more from the perspective of architecture as technology rather than architecture as art. Please welcome Marilyn Taylor.