UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Justin Schwartz, Harold and Inge Marcus Dean in the Penn State College of Engineering, addressed the United Nations Committee on Sustainable Energy during its hybrid 30th session on Sept. 22 in Geneva, Switzerland. The session is now available for viewing here.
The session, titled “Concrete Actions to Attain Energy for Sustainable Development,” focused on how to support UN-member countries to fulfill the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Climate Agreement. The agenda and agreement call for international cooperation to eradicate extreme poverty and reverse climate change, respectively, on the path to sustainable development. Schwartz virtually delivered the keynote address for the section focused on how high performance in buildings and the built environment can help achieve these goals.
“Engineering is science with a mission,” Schwartz said in his address. “We need engineers and scientists who can drive development and intellectually lead a vision for our growing world population of nearly eight billion people. Population growth should not invite more injustice, nor the human despair that too often results from it.”
Schwartz specifically highlighted how the built environment comprises not only buildings, but also the communities in which they exist and the connections between communities — including the internet.
“How we design our buildings, and our cities, impacts how people live and function day-to-day, but it goes much further,” Schwartz said. “The internet is the life blood of the modern built environment, from the concept to the execution of smart design and smart communities.”
But the critical key, Schwartz noted, is equitable access between and within built environments.
“The current pandemic has underscored the importance of buildings and the built environment delivering on both carbon reductions and dramatic improvements in quality of life, especially for the underserved worldwide,” said Scott Foster, director of the Sustainable Energy Division for the UN Economic Commission for Europe, which includes the United States. The division is responsible for developing and deploying Framework Guidelines for Energy Efficiency Standards in Buildings. “Equity and access need to be the hallmarks of the built environment and energy of the future. They are at the heart of the UN's 2030 Agenda."
In 2018, Penn State and the UNECE launched the Global Building Network, an initiative established and headquartered at the University to coordinate the research, communication, dissemination and education necessary to advance energy efficiency and sustainability standards in buildings worldwide.