It is clear from the first few months of 2021 that the agenda being put forth by the Biden Administration and the leadership of the 117th United States Congress aligns significantly with the advocacy priorities of the American Institute of Architects. Our focus over the next several months will be on supporting the legislative initiatives that we endorse. To do this, we will draw upon the collective expertise of AIA members to improve legislative proposals and use the skills of AIA senior federal relations staff to–hopefully–turn the bills we support into laws.
The AIA quickly and publicly supported the Administration’s infrastructure proposal known as the “American Jobs Plan.” This plan defines “infrastructure” to include affordable and public housing, K-12 public schools, community colleges, child care centers, Veterans Affairs hospitals, airports, and federal buildings and calls for public investment to renovate existing buildings. This clearly aligns with the AIA’s long-held position that buildings are infrastructure. And as resilience, equity, and carbon emission reductions are explicitly prioritized by the American Jobs Plan, an AIA “Action Alert” has been sent urging all members to contact their federal legislators in support of this proposal. COTE Advocacy encourages all members of the COTE Knowledge Community to follow through on this alert:
AIA is calling on members of Congress to craft bipartisan legislation to turn these investment proposals into reality. For more details on the proposals related to AIA priorities, click here. Addressing our infrastructure needs now, especially as the nation rebuilds after the pandemic, makes sense for the economy and the future. It will boost the economic recovery, provide good-paying jobs, and improve our public buildings—including schools, hospitals, civic centers, and affordable housing. Let your member of Congress know: AIA supports federal investment in our aging building infrastructure and needs bipartisan solutions to address those critical needs.
In addition, the process of using the expertise of AIA members to inform our advocacy activities more effectively has been greatly enhanced by the recent re-alignment of Board-level AIA Committees.
The AIA Board Government Advocacy Committee (GAC), the Committee with official oversight of the AIA’s advocacy work, was recently reconfigured to include AIA members from groups such as COTE, Housing & Community Development, the Committee on Architecture and Education, the Resilience Network, Codes and Standards, and the Disaster Assistance Community. COTE’s Advocacy subcommittee is now advisory to the GAC as a policy “think tank”, drawing upon the expertise of affiliated organizations such as Architecture 2030. The AIA has also chartered a new Board Committee on Climate Action and Design Excellence (CCADE) to advise the AIA Board on advancing a zero-carbon, equitable, resilient, and healthy built environment, as well as monitoring the organization’s performance against the AIA Climate Action Plan.
This has allowed us to respond quickly and meaningfully to the sponsors of bills such as the Climate Leadership and Environmental Action for our Nation’s Future Act (“CLEAN Future Act”) and the Leading Infrastructure for Tomorrow’s America Act (“LIFT America Act”), both recently introduced in the House Energy & Commerce Committee. For example, our collective “mark-up” of the CLEAN Act by COTE Advocacy and CCADE as submitted to the GAC emphasized the need to make greenhouse gas reduction targets more aggressive, to direct incentives to building electrification, and to underscore provisions that would establish national building energy benchmarking standards and incent states to adopt uniform model building energy ZERO Codes.
As the American Jobs Act and other proposals move through their various congressional Committees, we look forward to continuing to influence these important pieces of climate action legislation over the summer.