Committee on the Environment

ALBION DISTRICT LIBRARY BY PERKINS + WILL IS A 2018 COTE TOP TEN RECIPIENT. IMAGE: DOUBLESPACE PHOTOGRAPHY

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The AIA Committee on the Environment (COTE®) works to advance, disseminate, and advocate design practices that integrate built and natural systems and enhance both the design quality and environmental performance of the built environment. Expand your positive impact: Explore the COTE Top Ten Toolkit. Engage in our advocacy efforts. Enjoy our latest newsletter (and follow us on Twitter).

Letter from the Chair - June 2019

By Marsha A. Maytum FAIA posted 25 days ago

  

Victory: Resolution for Urgent and Sustained Climate Action!


At the AIA ’19 Conference business meeting in Las Vegas on June 5 the assembled delegates from the American Institute of Architects overwhelmingly approved the Resolution for Urgent and Sustained Climate Action by a vote of 4,860 for and 312 against. 


This vote (covered by Architectural Record and Building Green, among others) was the culmination of focused effort by members of the Committee on the Environment (COTE) and the Sustainability Leadership Group (SLG) to respond to the call for “bold action” on the climate crisis by the AIA leadership and Board of Directors in January 2019.  The Resolution calls for three actions by the AIA Board:


  1. Declare an urgent climate imperative for carbon reduction.
  2. Transform the day-to-day practice of architects to achieve a zero-carbon, equitable, resilient and healthy built environment by adopting the AIA Framework for Design Excellence. (The AIA Committee on the Environment (COTE) Top Ten Measures)
  3. Align and utilize our external messaging to leverage support of our peers, clients, policy makers, and the public at large.

Betsy del Monte, FAIA (COTE AG and AIA Strategic Council member) presented the Resolution to the AIA leadership and delegates followed by an impressive line-up of supporting speakers including Bob Berkebile, FAIA, founder of COTE; Jean Caroon, FAIA, President of the Boston Society of Architects; RK Stewart, FAIA, Past AIA President; Bill Leddy, FAIA, Past COTE Chair, AIA Firm Award Recipient; Yiselle Santos Rivera, Assoc. AIA, 2018 AIA Associates Award winner and AIA Strategic Council member … plus a statement by Jessica Sheridan, AIA, Director-At-Large, in support of the Resolution in spirit by the AIA Board.


Berkebile recounted his presentation of ”The Resolution for Critical Planet Rescue” (CPR)  at the AIA Conference in 1989 which was passed by a similar floor vote and led to the creation of the AIA Committee on the Environment. Thirty years later Berkebile again made an impassioned plea at the 2019 AIA Conference for urgent and sustained climate action by the AIA and the profession to step up to the climate change challenge.  Leddy presented a letter signed by 24 current and past AIA Firm Award recipients urging support of the Resolution stating that:


“An historic, rapid transformation of our built environment to zero net carbon emissions is absolutely crucial if we are to secure a resilient, hopeful future for our children and grandchildren.  Architects should not fear this future -we should enthusiastically embrace it as a groundbreaking moment for leadership in our communities, for greater meaning and relevance in our work, and for untold growth in our marketplace.  

If we are true to our values as an Institute - to design a better future for all; to protect the public's health, safety, and welfare -- this is our moment to act.


Next Steps

With the landslide victory of the Resolution by the delegates at the A’19 Conference, the AIA Board will review the Resolution for Urgent Climate Action for ratification at their upcoming meetings in September and December. We urge you to reach out to your AIA representatives, AIA Chapters, and colleagues to support the ratification of this important Resolution by the national AIA Board immediately.  

In a recent New York Times op-ed, John Gertner wrote: ”if we don’t deploy the resources we now wield, many years into the future our story of failure will be this: We understood the threat, we were very smart and exceedingly capable. We had money and we had tools. And we chose not to act.”

Now is the time for action!  We must align our efforts across the Institute and the profession to accelerate the change required to address the climate crisis. I look forward to collaborating with everyone on this critical endeavor.

MM_sig_transparent2.png

MARSH MAYTUM, FAIA

The following is an excerpt from the Resolution:


WHEREAS, in 2017 the AIA Board of Directors issued Where We Stand: Climate Change (https://www.aia.org/resources/77541-where-we-stand-climate-change) and the AIA Commentary on Climate Change Mitigation (http://content.aia.org/sites/default/files/2017-04/AIA-Commentary_climate-change-mitigation.pdf) which state the AIA’s position on the science of climate change, the substantial greenhouse gas emissions from buildings and cities, and the vital role architects must play in combatting climate change.

WHEREAS, in 2018 the AIA Board of Directors adopted the revised the AIA Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct (http://content.aia.org/sites/default/files/2018-09/2018_Code_of_Ethics_0.pdf) fully updating Canon VI, Obligations to the Environment including:

  • Ethical Standard 6.5: Climate Change. Members should incorporate adaptation strategies with their clients to anticipate extreme weather events and minimize adverse effects on the environment, economy, and public health.
  • Rule 6.501. Members shall consider with their clients the environmental effects of their project decisions.

WHEREAS, for many years the AIA and its members have invested their resources to be engaged in and informed about climate change by participating in the highest-level national and international conferences and summits including: in 2015, the United Nations Conference of the Parties 21 (COP21) in Paris; in 2016, the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) in Quito, Ecuador; and in 2018, the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco.

WHEREAS, in 2018 AIA President Carl Elefante, FAIA, constituted the Blue Ribbon Panel for Codes and Standards which states in its draft report: “…today we observe a rapidly changing world that is not properly reflected in what it means to protect ‘health, safety, and welfare.’ We have observed the devastating effects of climate change throughout the world, growing social inequity, and human health crises that demand the definition of ‘HSW’ now focus on and include the growing bodies of knowledge in resilience, equitable design, and advanced building performance.” (Disruption, Evolution and Change, AIA Blue Ribbon Panel for Codes and Standards, Report, to be released June 2019)

WHEREAS, in 2019 AIA President William J. Bates, FAIA, informed the Sustainability Leadership Group that “…leaders from AIA’s Board of Directors and executive team described their intention to focus Institute resources and influence for deeper impact on a specific topic. Dubbed the Big Move, that proposal has been honed to focus on economically viable climate action through buildings’ operational and embodied carbon.”

WHEREAS, in 2019 AIA President William J. Bates FAIA charged the Sustainability Leadership Group to “serve as and work in conjunction with other Board level committees for the AIA to maximize impact as the Institute shifts into a greater leadership role mitigating and adapting to a changing climate.”

WHEREAS, in accordance with President Bates’ charge, the Sustainability Leadership Group, composed of leaders of the seven AIA committees focused on issues of healthy, sustainable, and resilient design, met at AIA Headquarters in February and April 2019 and recommended three actions to the AIA Board of Directors for sustaining the health, safety, and welfare of human life on our planet:

  1. Declare an urgent climate imperative for carbon reduction.
  2. Transform the day-to-day practice of architects to achieve a zero-carbon, equitable, resilient and healthy built environment by adopting the AIA Framework for Design Excellence. (The AIA Committee on the Environment (COTE) Top Ten Measures (https://www.aia.org/resources/6077668-the-cote-top-ten-toolkit).)
  3. Align and utilize our external messaging to leverage support of our peers, clients, policy makers, and the public at large.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that commencing in 2019 and continuing until zero-net carbon practice is the accepted standard of its members, the AIA prioritize and support urgent climate action as a health, safety, and welfare issue, to exponentially accelerate the “decarbonization” of buildings, the building sector, and the built environment.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the AIA engage its full membership; the clients and communities members serve; federal, state and local policy makers and governing bodies; other professional organizations and affiliates, and the public on climate action through a multi-year strategy for education, practice, advocacy, and outreach.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that following the example of the AIA Guides for Equitable Practice, the AIA prepare Guidelines for Ethical Practice on Climate Action to delineate practices for complying with Canon VI, Obligations to the Environment in the AIA Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the AIA revise its Public Policies and Position Statements to support urgent climate action.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the AIA adopt and implement the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Codes and Standards and the Sustainability Leadership Group.

resolution passed at A'19

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