AIA Advocacy update
By AIA Government Relations and Advocacy
The Trump White House took another major step to undo his predecessor’s legacy this month, announcing plans to rescind former President Obama’s Clean Power Plan. The Plan, which set emissions standards for states to reduce CO2 emissions from power plants by 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, was the centerpiece of the Obama’s administration’s climate change efforts. Although the plan does not directly relate to the built environment, its carbon reduction goals presented an opportunity for those working in the built environment – as the AIA noted in its 2014 public comments to the EPA – for “federal and state governments to look toward policies that encourage meaningful increases in demand-side energy efficiency in the built environment.”
So what does this announcement mean for the climate, and for architects? The short-term impact is not clear: for one thing, the Clean Power Plan was already held up in the courts and had never taken effect. Also, the Trump administration is still legally required to limit carbon pollution and must re-issue a new plan, along with ample time for public comments. The battle over the Clean Power Plan is a long way from over.
Meanwhile, other moves by Congress and the Administration may have even greater impacts on sustainable design. The White House’s budget proposal to eliminate Energy Star and other key energy programs is still on the table. While members of Congress from both parties have expressed support for Energy Star, the program is by no means safe, especially as the December 8th deadline for Congress to pass agency funding bills approaches. COTE has advocated for the preservation of Energy Star to members of both House and Senate committees as well as to EPA Director Pruitt directly.
In addition, the current drive for tax reform could have a massive effect on sustainability. It is possible that tax reform proposals will seek to eliminate tax incentives for green buildings (like 179D), renewable energy and even the Historic Tax Credit, a popular incentive that promotes sustainability by encouraging the adaptive reuse of existing buildings. Last but not least, Congress is not finished with its efforts to try and repeal the 2030 targets for federal buildings and roll back the Energy Department’s role in developing green codes.
Each of these actions, taken separately, would have a very damaging effect on the built environment. Taken together, they could turn back years of progress by AIA members and their allies in making the federal government a partner with the design professions to promote good design – which is why the AIA is working aggressively to counter them. So what can you do? Tell Congress to support sustainable design via the AIA Action Center
. Join the COTE Advocacy Network
, or sign up for the AIA Legislative Action Network
, to stay informed on the key issues. Grassroots advocacy does make a difference.