AIA Testifies at Energy Committee Hearing


Late last month, the American Institute of Architects’ 2018 President Carl Elefante, FAIA, testified before the United States House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy, outlining steps for the U.S. to reduce greenhouse gases in the built environment.

“The threat posed by climate change to our homes, cities, nation and the planet require that we fundamentally reexamine how we develop and adapt the built world,” said Elefante.

“We know that new standards of design and construction can be utilized to combat climate change. Success on these initiatives will mean a holistic approach and long-term commitment from every aspect of our society to incorporate these principles into the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of the nation’s buildings.”

According to the AIA, buildings represent 39% of the nation’s primary energy use and 39% of greenhouse gas emissions. In order to meet the 2050 net-zero emission target, Elefante said the U.S. needs to renovate and retrofit 75% of the existing building stock (about 54 billion square feet).

Other AIA Initiatives

The AIA kicked off the year by releasing a tool kit that aims to help those tasked with designing sustainable buildings.

Defined from patterns identified through its COTE Top Ten Awards Program—which focuses on sustainable design excellence in the industry—the AIA released a COTE Top Ten Toolkit, which it says can be used as a framework to guide design for all different types of projects.

“The intent is to keep this resource current and to add to it over time,” according to the AIA. “Ultimately, this feedback loop informs refinements to the fundamental measures themselves. Your feedback is incredibly helpful for continuously improving the resource.”

The Top 10 is divided into categories that include:

  • Design for Integration – Looks at the idea behind the project, how sustainability informs the design concept;
  • Design for Community – Looks at how community members inside and outside the building benefit from the project;
  • Design for Ecology – Looks at the larger ecosystem within which the project is located;
  • Design for Water – Looks at how the project uses water and rainfall;
  • Design for Economy – Looks at cost-effectiveness and economic performance;
  • Design for Energy – Looks at energy from renewable sources and carbon impact;
  • Design for Wellness – Looks at how the design supports the comfort and health of the people who inhabit or visit the building;
  • Design for Resources – Looks at the selection of materials and products used in the project;
  • Design for Change – Looks at how the project can be adapted for other uses; and
  • Design for Discovery – Looks at post-occupancy evaluation and performance expectations.

In addition to divvying up the categories, the AIA also released a Toolkit spread sheet.

pinkomelet / Getty Images

The AIA kicked off the year by releasing a tool kit that aims to help those tasked with designing sustainable buildings.

Then, in early September, the AIA’s Board of Directors approved a climate action initiative that it said “defines immediate and long-term efforts to engage the architectural profession in the fight against climate change.”

The resolution was first introduced by architect Betsy del Monte, FAIA, and 50 members of the organization’s 2019 conference.

“This is a defining moment for the Institute,” said 2019 AIA President William Bates, FAIA, at the time.

“We are making this our top priority in order to address the crisis our communities face. Moving the needle on this critical issue—that threatens the future of our planet and humanity—requires our firm commitment to achieving carbon neutral goals in the built environment and our immediate action. It’s imperative that the industry acts today.”

With the resolution, the AIA said it’s going to “rally the profession to do more to fight climate change” by building on initiatives such as its COTE Top Ten Framework and its 2030 Commitment.

AIA also said it is going to establish goals to support mitigation and adaptation using the tenets of the COTE Top Ten plan and that  it will also continue to encourage participation in its 2030 Commitment, and will work to develop new programs and resources.

“The resolution calls for revisions to AIA public policies and position statements,” the organization said, “and advocates that the Institute engage its full membership, clients, lawmakers and communities in a multi-year education, practice and advocacy strategy.”

For a video and further information on Elefante’s testimony, click here.


Tagged categories: American Institute of Architects (AIA); Certifications and standards; Good Technical Practice; Government; Green building; NA; North America; Regulations; Retrofits; Sustainability

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