Two recent actions by the US Congress indicate that improving the energy efficiency of commercial buildings is an idea that enjoys bipartisan support. These and more signals point toward positive movement in 2021.
Architects play a critical role in creating a healthy, beautiful, inclusive and environmentally responsible built environment. For the last quarter century, the AIA Committee on the Environment has represented the leading edge of this movement and sets an example for others to follow. We have no intention of stopping now. Our priorities are:
Priority 1: Infrastructure
The position: AIA COTE encourages the 116th Congress to take up the consideration of a national infrastructure reinvestment and restoration proposal.
The reason: The most critical sustainable design hurdle we face is making widespread improvements to the energy efficiency of the nation’s existing building stock. If we can successfully make the case that “buildings ARE infrastructure”, we can be “at the table” when infrastructure reinvestment legislation is being drafted and – potentially – get energy efficiency incentives or subsidies as part of the funding package.
Priority 2: Resilience
The position: AIA COTE encourages the 116th Congress to make climate preparedness a national priority.
The reason: The impacts of climate change cannot adequately be addressed by state or municipal governments, nor can they be effectively remediated in isolation (sea level rise vs. wildfire vs. drought vs. inland flooding vs. landslides, etc.). And although the impacts of a changing world climate will be different in every US region, a few outcomes will be universal: power and other critical public utilities will be disrupted, business will be impacted, and people will be displaced and put in harm’s way.
Priority 3: Decarbonization
The position: When the United States Congress is ready to take up “decarbonization” as an approach to reducing national greenhouse gas emissions, the American Institute of Architects must be included in the discussion.
The reason: At between 4% and 5% of the US GDP and with projected 2019 expenditures above $1.2T, the construction industry is one of the largest sectors of the US economy. And as the trade association for the profession that provides much of the technical knowledge and intellectual capital for the AEC industry, reducing carbon emissions from building operation AND construction is a design challenge the AIA is ready for.
For the full text of the AIA COTE Advocacy Priorities, please see this link.
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Urgent issues are taking place at the federal level that could have serious consequences to COTE’s mission of advancing high-performing quality design in the built environment, which we know has a profound impact on the future of our communities. Architects and designers work within a framework of local, state and federal policy that is continually changing and we must support efforts to ensure this framework aligns with our core values.
If you are an architect or a design professional who is concerned about:
- the urgency of climate change as a national, state, and local agenda item
- the role of new and existing buildings in progress towards a carbon neutral future
- the security of and access to data held by federal agencies (such as DOE, EPA, GSA, etc.)
- resilience and sustainability as priorities for communities
then you might be looking for a way to plug in to targeted advocacy focused on what you do, who you are, and what you believe is important.
The AIA Committee on the Environment is creating the COTE Advocacy Network: architects and design professionals to advocate for key issues concerning the design of the built environment at the federal, state and local levels. Login to the AIA Advocacy Center and select "Join the Advocacy Network."