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The Committee on the Environment (COTE®) is an AIA Knowledge Community working for architects, allied professionals, and the public to achieve climate action and climate justice through design. We believe that design excellence is the foundation of a healthy, sustainable, and equitable future. Our work promotes design strategies that empower all AIA members to realize the best social and environmental outcomes with the clients and the communities they serve.

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Initial Recommendations on Awards and Carbon Literacy

By Vincent Martinez Hon. AIA posted 10-20-2022 11:59 AM


Over the past few months CCADE conducted two listening sessions on the topic of awards and one of two planned listening sessions on the topic of Professional Education – Content, as those topics relate to advancing the AIA Climate Action Plan and the Framework for Design Excellence (F4DE). Below is a summary of CCADE’s recent recommendations to the AIA Board of Directors on the topic of awards as well as an initial recommendation on the topic of Professional Education – Content as we continue our listening sessions on the topic. 
Executive Summary of the Recommendations on Awards  
Awards have tremendous value to the profession and the AIA in a variety of ways including building awareness and driving adoption of the AIA’s strategic goals and the Framework for Design Excellence, setting precedents about what innovation is possible and underway in the marketplace, demonstrating AIA values, and providing examples that support advocacy efforts. 
As directed by the Board of Directors in 2019, the F4DE was incorporated into AIA national Honors and Awards programs in 2020. AIA staff has made significant progress on incorporating the F4DE into the Awards programs to date but additional work must be done on several fronts to fully address the Climate Action Plan and F4DE goals. These include: 
1. Measure and address equity in all awards 
2. Improve metrics for awards submissions 
3. Improve climate change guidance for awards submissions nationally and at components 
4. Integrate the importance of building reuse into awards 
5. Recognize the value of climate change adaptation in awards 

Initial Recommendation on Carbon Literacy  

In 2022, the Strategic Council facilitated a sprint focused on Carbon Literacy, picking up on the particularly urgent issue of carbon emissions associated with the design and construction industry. This effort resulted in a three-tiered recommendation to the Board (see “Strategic Council Carbon Literacy report Executive Summary”, dated September 2022): 

  • Carbon Essentials: a one CEU online course geared to all AIA members 
  • Carbon Literacy Certificate: an AIAU online program composed of seven courses, inc. Carbon Essentials 
  • Carbon Literacy Expert Certification: based on four certificate programs (two of which already exist) and an exam to demonstrate competency 

At the 22 July 2022 meeting, the AIA Board of Directors reviewed, discussed, and adopted this recommendation. Due to the timeliness of this report, CCADE has provided a singular recommendation on the topic of “Professional Education – Content”:  
To ensure that the AIA moves quickly on this decision regarding the work of the Council, CCADE offers this strong recommendation: CCADE applauds the adoption of the Strategic Council’s Carbon Literacy report and believes it should be immediately prioritized among AIA education programing. 
CCADE is also actively hosting listening sessions on this topic and plan to provide our comprehensive set of recommendations on the topic in our November report to the Board, which will put this initial recommendation in the context of other efforts.