The AIA 2030 Commitment: Sharing

Sharing2.shutterstock_19756345In case you hadn’t noticed, sharing is now “in”.

Urban bike sharing companies like Hubway and CitiBike are all over American cities. Zipcar is so widely visible it’s almost a generic term. For vacationers, “Aribnb” has taken couch-surfing to a whole new level. Have you heard of NeighborGoods yet? Got a ladder? Need a ladder? How about Sidecar? “Share a ride with someone awesome”. This idea has traction.

Here’s something else you can share: Your firm’s AIA 2030 Commitment reporting data.

I got a letter from myself the other day. Dated May 28, 2013, it began “Dear Michael” and was signed “Sincerely, Mike Davis FAIA.” (This sometimes happens when you’re BSA President.) This letter from the Boston Society of Architects was sent to every BSA member firm that signed the AIA 2030 Commitment.  Its message was simple: please give us a copy of the recently-completed project energy use spreadsheet that you sent to the AIA. Your firm got one of those letters, too. We want your data.

Why? That’s the point of this blog. The AIA 2030 Commitment is the single most useful program out there to help architects improve their projects’ designed energy efficiency, and I’m trying to persuade everyone I know to sign it and complete the annual report.

We all want to do the right thing: reduce the climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions caused by building energy use. We’re all on board with Architecture 2030’s goal of making buildings carbon-neutral by the year 2030. But, really, we can debate the matter of how buildings achieve carbon-neutrality until the polar ice caps melt. And most of us have businesses to run and clients to serve. The implications of transforming our practice are considerably beyond most of our grasps.

That’s where the AIA 2030 Commitment comes in. It provides us – hard-working architects in corporate practice – with useful energy-use metrics (PEUI and LPD) and a rigorous reporting framework that applies to ALL our projects. When you’ve completed your AIA 2030 Commitment report, the spreadsheet tells the tale. You know exactly where you stand on energy efficient design.  

The annual energy use targets set by the Commitment are coordinated with the 2030 Challenge. But yes, they’re hard to hit. My firm, Bergmeyer, hasn’t hit them yet (more on that later). And when someone’s falling short, they don’t want other folks to know. But design is a collaborative process, and climate change is a global challenge. We truly are all in this together.

And besides, we (the Boston Society of Architects) want to help.

If you share your data with us (email a PDF to aia2030@architects.org) here’s what we’ll do: We’ll aggregate the EUIs and LPDs from the firms that reply. Then we’ll create a master report that shows how we’re all doing together and share it on the BSA website. Then we’ll promote the heck out of the firms who have participated and create a member-firm support network. This will make more firms want to sign the Commitment and participate, and the great motivational power of enlightened self-interest will help us all improve.

What we WON’T do is divulge any information about individual firms or projects. It’ll all be anonymous. We also promise NOT to share any of your data with those stalkers at the National Security Agency, either. We won’t mine your Gmail of Facebook accounts or record your phone calls. I mean, really. Don’t get me started.  

The systems-theorist Dr. Russel Ackoff defined it this way: Data simply exists without any significance. Shared, connected data becomes information. When information is applied to a problem set, it becomes knowledge. And knowledge, as they say, is power. Power – in this case – that could change our practice. Share it with us.

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