Letter from the COTE Chair


Dear COTE colleagues: 

A shift is underway, both at AIA and far beyond, toward new policies and initiatives that will bring us closer to adapting to our changing climate.

The Global Climate Action Summit convened in September in San Francisco and engaged people all over the world. An AIA delegation including COTE leaders participated throughout the week. Cities will shape our future and the goal outlined by the World Green Building Council at COP 21 in Paris in 2015 was that by 2050 all buildings will only use as much energy as they generate. Advocacy in all forms was high on the agenda and a sense of urgency that policy changes must happen quickly to ensure a net zero carbon future by the middle of the century.

How will we get there?

Raise the bottom: AIA supports Architecture 2030’s Zero Carbon Code, which was developed to explicitly meet AIA’s 2030 Commitment and the 2050 Imperative. AIA believes in a consensus-based code development process, as a result, Architecture 2030 and the AIA will be co-sponsoring a new code proposal to incorporate the Zero Carbon Code into the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). 

Stretch the top: Design and innovation will be key to renovating, adapting, and creating the built environment of the future. Architects need to think beyond the property lines. We, together with our clients, need to be thinking about the carbon footprints of the entire community, city, and region.

Advocacy will help along the way:

Here’s a summary of initiatives and policies recently approved by AIA and other organizations:

  • A not-so-thinly veiled attempt to overturn the Clean Power Plan (called the “Affordable Clean Energy Act”) has been opposed by the AIA. AIA signed onto the Carbon Smart Building Declaration, challenging signatories to intensify efforts in eliminating carbon emissions in all new buildings by 2030 and all existing buildings by 2050. It also encourages adopting technologies, processes, materials, and data that support eliminating or greatly reducing the carbon footprint in the built environment. AIA endorsed the Call for Building Owner Participation in Cap-and-Trade Programs, joining the CO2toEE coalition to encourage businesses and building owners to make deeper retrofits in energy efficiency.
  • A coalition of 22 leading U.S. organizations has come together behind the new Smart Surfaces Coalition. AIA is one of these, along with the USGBC and others, recognizing this important effort -- and its series of powerful tools that are now in the works -- that will help cities scale up solutions to cool down (the motto/URL is “stay cool, save cash”).
  • And, last but not least, my own city’s mayor Eric Garcetti, has pledged net zero carbon emissions by 2050 for the City of Los Angeles (this means the energy use of existing buildings will need to be cut by 50 to 85 percent) and all new buildings will be carbon neutral by 2030 -a great idea since buildings account for roughly 70 percent of a major city’s total carbon emissions.

Members of the AIA Delegation to the Global Climate Action Summit (left to right): Larry Strain, FAIA, Siegel & Strain Architects; Jill Gotthelf, AIA, Walter Sedovic Architects; Betsy del Monte, FAIA, Cameron MacAllister Consultants; Lisa Richmond, AIA Seattle and Design in Public; Carl Elefante, FAIA, Quinn Evans Architects, 2018 AIA President; Lisa Matthiessen, FAIA, HGA, 2018 AIA California Council  COTE Chair; Marsha Maytum, FAIA, 2019 AIA COTE Chair; Dave Collins, FAIA, The Preview Group; Kara Kempski, AIA Manager of Federal Relations; Melissa Morancy, Assoc. AIA, Director, AIA Knowledge Communities.

We can meet these challenges, but it will not be “business as usual” and it will require all of us to embrace and promote the best-known practices in everything we do. No small task, but we’ve got all the motivation in the world.

Brooks_signature.jpgAngela Brooks, FAIA
2018 Advisory Group Chair
AIA Committee on the Environment