Advocacy Update: Ideas Gaining Traction

By Michael R. Davis FAIA posted 06-24-2021 03:11 PM


Ideas are surfacing and gaining credibility in political debate that will support the AIA’s ongoing advocacy work around climate action.


As of this writing, it is still unclear what kind of infrastructure legislation the 117th United States Congress will be able to produce. But whatever the 117th Congress can accomplish, it is important to point out that a number of ideas are surfacing and gaining credibility in political debate that will support the AIA’s ongoing advocacy work around climate action and the need to include buildings (both new and adapted) in any infrastructure package that moves through Congress.   


The “whole of government” approach to climate action 

The Administration’s fiscal 2022 budget released on May 28th contains a remarkable subtext that AIA COTE Advocacy certainly supports: the global climate emergency should inform the work of every department in every branch of the US Federal government. The $6 trillion budget proposes $14 billion of increased spending in such diverse areas as clean energy and infrastructure investments, climate science and sustainability research, public health and environmental justice, and grid modernization. 


Resilience as a planning imperative 

Just ahead of the Atlantic hurricane season, the Administration announced a $1 billion increase to FEMA’s Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) program, which helps states, local communities, tribes, and territories prepare for and reduce risks from natural disasters made more frequent and intense by climate change.   


Building codes as a policy tool 

One of the bills we are tracking very closely – the Climate Leadership and Environmental Action for our Nation’s (CLEAN) Future ACT, recently filed by the leaders of the US House Committee on Energy and Commerce – contains a provision that recognizes the climate action potential of progressive building codes. This bill proposes to give the Department of Energy tools to incent each US State to adopt building energy codes that would require “zero energy ready buildings” by the year 2030. 


It is not at all certain that the CLEAN Future Act will survive Congressional oversight  and become law, but the fact that building codes are now being considered as a tool for battling the climate crisis shows clear alignment with the policy goals of the AIA’s “Policy Platform 2020.” AIA is currently working with its Government Advocacy Committee, the AIA Codes and Standards Committee and Board to determine optimum pathways to engage and support more progressive building code (climate-facing) adoption.