The AIA 2030 Commitment: Going All-In

All in?

This is how I get myself in trouble. It starts with me making an audacious claim at a meeting of some kind and then – bam – I’m committed to doing something else. At least this one sounded like a good idea at the time. Still does.

While attending this year’s AIA Convention in New Orleans, I went to a seminar on the first year of results from the AIA 2030 Commitment. If you don’t know about it, the 2030 Commitment is a plan to get all AIA member firms working towards the 2030 Challenge goals of zero fossil fuel consumption for buildings by the year 2030. This seminar was an eye-opener. Sure, most of the firms reporting were behind on 2030 Challenge goals (average designed energy use reduction at 35% reported vs. “target” reduction of 50% by 2010), but you could justifiably see it as a “glass half full” moment. It was the first time ever that the AIA has collected data on member firms’ design efforts to reduce building energy use. And they put all the raw data into big charts and graphs for the world to take shots at. A brave move.

Here’s where it gets complicated. About a dozen firms from my AIA chapter, the Boston Society of Architects (BSA), had signed the Commitment and completed their first year of reporting. Mine was not one of them. And I knew there were many, many other active BSA member firms doing good sustainable design work that hadn’t signed on yet, either. So later that week, I was sitting in a meeting of the BSA Board Committee for the Advancement of Sustainability (CAS). We set sustainability goals for the whole chapter. I was doing a download on this seminar and my enthusiasm got the better of me. I said “this Committee should set a goal of achieving 100% BSA member-firm participation in the 2030 Commitment!”

Eric White, BSA Deputy Director, was quick to throw down the gauntlet. “Mike, you could get your firm to join and write a blog about it! Stories-from-the-trenches kind of thing.”

So here we are. For the next year or so, I will be blogging about getting my architectural firm – Bergmeyer – to sign the AIA 2030 Commitment and recording our progress as we follow through with our first year of reporting. You should try this at your firm, too.

But be careful with those audacious claims. They get you in trouble every time.