Lessons from Climate Week

By Ben Thompson, Autodesk sustainable business program manager

BenTBetween more than 300,000 climate marchers, more than 120 meetings and events and one major summit, Climate Week NYC demonstrated a renewed commitment for climate action from both the private and the public sectors. Amidst the noise, there are a couple of interesting lessons from the week.

The CDP launched a report on their annual climate change survey to the world’s largest companies, on behalf of investors representing USD 92 trillion in assets. The report demonstrated that leadership in climate disclosure and performance is linked to financial performance. According to the CDP, leaders, “Autodesk received the highest scores possible on this assessment, a 100 for disclosure and an “A” for performance.” These scores place us on both the Climate Disclosure Leadership Index and Climate Performance Leadership Index for the third consecutive year. Even more thrilling is this information is shared with investors through tools like Bloomberg Terminals and Google Finance, so they can more accurately understand the performance of their investments. Our performance on these rankings, along with Autodesk’s inclusion on Dow Jones Sustainability Indices for the fifth year in a row, can be attributed to two things: our deep efforts to make sustainable design easy, insightful and cost-effective for our customers, and our programmatic efforts to embed sustainability into how we run our business. The case for leadership on climate is clear, whether you are designing a building, product or a business.

Another insight is that climate week inspired a new-found hope in solving the climate crisis. From the record-breaking march; to United Nations Secretary General Ban-ki Moon’s comment that he has never before seen so many disparate representatives at the same table, it feels like we can fix this. Autodesk knows, and sees through our customers, that climate change can be addressed with good design.

Designers, this is our wheelhouse. We can all do this. Especially given the abilities that designers have now, thanks to new technology, there is no reason not to have hope and be inspired by the opportunity for change. We can “Design for Zero” and design carbon emissions out of the things we build and make. We applaud the Pusat Tenaga Malaysia Zero Energy Office Building and FortZED, an entire zero energy district in Colorado, examples that demonstrate that Design for Zero is already happening. So what are we waiting for?

Climate Week NYC ended, but this year it reminds us that we need to design like it’s Climate Week all year long. Designers, business and government now have the ability to design carbon out of our global systems and transform humanity’s greatest challenge into our greatest triumph.