“How we plan and design the built environment from here on out will determine whether climate change is manageable or catastrophic.”

About the 2030 Palette

The 2030 Palette is a free online platform that puts the principles and actions behind low-carbon and resilient built environments at the fingertips of design professionals worldwide.

Since planning and designing the built environment is primarily a visual activity, the 2030 Palette is structured as a visual network of interrelated elements called Swatches. Swatches present highly complex and multi-dimensional information in a readily accessible format organized by category – Region, City/Town, District, Site and Building. Each Swatch contains a written recommendation, rule-of-thumb, images and graphics representing the physical application of the recommendation, as well as more detailed information for its successful application.



Region addresses built and natural environments surrounding cities and towns.

Swatches at this scale consider large planning issues such as land use, settlement areas, natural habitat vitality and viability, and transit network. Specific recommendations and rules-of-thumb include growth boundaries, habitat corridors, and transit corridors. Swatches in Region also focuses on best practices for adaptive and resilient development that can manage growth and climate change impacts, preserve natural resources, and exist sustainably within their ecological capital.

Copenhagen Fingerplan 2007. Credit: Danish Ministry of the Environment.

City / Town

City / Town addresses planning issues within a defined urban context.

Swatches at this scale focus on design and planning practices that dramatically reduce the environmental impact and exposure of new and existing development. Specific recommendations and rules-of-thumb include urban infill, retrofit, new growth, open space and green infrastructure, and urban bikeways.

Darling Quarter, ASPECT Studios. Credit: Florian Groehn.


District addresses the intersection of land use and mobility issues within a defined urban setting or community.

Swatches at this scale explore how people use, interact, and move through district centers, neighborhoods, and street networks. Specific recommendations and rules-of-thumb include district center configuration, density, street layout and design, and development that encourages walking, bicycling, and public transit.

Portland Lightrail. Credit: Patrick Dirden Photography.


Site addresses the individual building or development site.

Swatches at this scale consider site and climatic conditions that form the foundation of building design. Strategies and actions integrate issues of microclimate, vegetation, water, and site stability. Specific recommendations and rules-of-thumb include low-impact development, solar access, elevated buildings, green roofs, and infrastructure systems such as water-catchment and constructed wetlands.

Casa Atami, Marcos Bertoldi Arquitetos. Credit: Alessandra Okasaki.


Building addresses the context, form, orientation, layout, and elements of a building.

Swatches at this scale focus on designing with sunlight, daylight, and air movement to provide comfortable indoor conditions with little to no off-site energy inputs. Specific recommendations and rules-of-thumb include spatial configurations, daylighting strategies and controls, passive heating systems, shading, and passive cooling systems.

Green School, PT Bambu. Credit: Iwan Baan.

Terms of Use

The 2030 Palette is an educational platform containing a set of guiding principles, information, and resources – or Swatches – for the development of schematic planning strategies and building designs. The extent to which any or all of the Swatch information and recommendations are realized in practice, depends on the extent to which the designer succeeds in understanding and applying the information and recommendations. All Swatch content should be verified according to local conditions, codes, standards, and regulations, and are not a substitute for a detailed or in-depth analysis of planning strategies, applications, and infrastructure and building designs.

Additonal Resources

Press Kit
2030 Palette Blog

The 2030 Palette Team

  • Edward Mazria
  • Peter Chapman
  • Francesca Desmarais
  • Alfredo Fernandez-Gonzalez
  • Ingrid Kelley
  • Tighe Lanning
  • Vincent Martinez
  • Demetra Mazria
  • David Moore
  • Quilian Riano
  • Sue Swanback
  • Nicholas Ter Meer
  • Neil Werbelow
  • Xynergy, Inc.

Architecture 2030

Architecture 2030 is a high-impact, solutions-based non-profit organization rapidly transforming the global built environment from the major contributor of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to a central part of the solution to the climate, water, and energy crises.

Simply put, we strive to change the way cities, communities and buildings are planned, designed and built. Our vision encompasses not only using dramatically less fossil fuels, but also the creation of adaptive, resilient, livable built environments that can manage climate change impacts, preserve natural resources, and access low-cost, renewable water and energy resources.

The foundation of Architecture 2030's work lies in the widely adopted 2030 Challenge, issued in 2006 as a plan of action for creating a carbon-neutral built environment. Subsequent 2030 Challenges for Planning and Products have since been issued and are being implemented with far-reaching impacts throughout the Building Sector.

For more information visit architecture2030.org. You can also follow Architecture 2030 on Twitter and Facebook.



Sidney E. Frank


and an anonymous donor.