Over the summer of 2020, some important policy documents have been released by Congressional committees and political parties indicating that there are reasons to be optimistic about the fight against the climate crisis. None of these documents have any current bearing on the actions of the US federal government. But they show AIA COTE Advocacy where our opportunities for future climate actions are.
The most important of these reports was the June 2020 Majority Report of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. We have highlighted this document previously in this newsletter, but it remains the most detailed and ambitious legislative policy outline of the year. Chaired by Representative Kathy Castor (D-FL), the document contains an entire section on recommended policies to reduce building energy use and promote net zero energy and resilience planning. By comparison, the August 2020 report by the Senate Democrats’ Special Committee on the Climate Crisis, authored by many US Senators who are reliable allies of the AIA, focuses almost entirely on power generation, transportation, and energy use in the “industrial” market sector without any reference to buildings whatsoever.
Two other hopeful documents came out over the summer. In July, the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force released “Combating the Climate Crisis and Pursuing Environmental Justice”, a document intended to influence the Democratic National Convention’s 2020 policy platform. Although strictly partisan in nature and therefore not a proposal the AIA can formally endorse, the documents claim that “[W]e will set a bold national goal of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions for all new buildings by 2030, on the pathway to creating a 100 percent clean building sector” aligns in principle if not in specificity with the AIA’s advocacy agenda.
The document that drew the most attention this summer was the July 2020 Democratic Party Platform. Building upon the House Select Committee report and benefitting from the influence of the AIA’s Government Relations and Advocacy team, its plank titled “Combating the Climate Crisis and Pursuing Environmental Justice” contained detailed and specific policy recommendations to incentivize private-sector investments to make energy efficiency renovations to the nation’s existing buildings and encourage “states and cities to adopt energy-efficient building codes and address barriers to energy efficiency upgrades” while incorporating the Biden/Saunders language on net-zero greenhouse gas emissions from buildings.
These are certainly positions that AIA COTE Advocacy can get behind.