The AIA 2030 Commitment: System Intervention

Have you ever had an idea that you can’t wait to tell people about, but when you start describing it aloud you doubt your sanity? I have something of a track record with this phenomenon, but I’m relieved to say it didn’t happen this time. I convinced my architectural firm, Bergmeyer, to sign the AIA 2030 Commitment.

For prep, I re-read one of my favorite essays about organizational transformation: “Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System” by Donella Meadows. Human systems (corporations, for example) have goals, whether people are aware of them or not. “Whole-system goals” must be made explicit before they can be influenced. Influencing a system’s goals creates a paradigm-shift. Heavy stuff.

Next, I rounded-up a task force of people I knew would be enthusiastic and supportive. Admittedly, they were my usual suspects, but I really don’t like that questioning-my-sanity feeling. I sent everyone PDFs of the AIA 2030 Commitment First Annual Report along with a link to the 2030 Commitment website. I had the reporting tool spreadsheets up on a Power Point and I was ready for a deep dive on climate change causality.

I was over-prepared. Everyone bought it.

There were questions. A lot of our projects are interiors. Many of these projects use heating and cooling systems provided by the base building, limiting our capacity to affect energy efficiency. The Commitment allows projects like those to use Lighting Power Density (LPD) as the metric. Another question: All our projects don’t use energy modeling. Not a good thing, but not an obstacle to compliance. The Commitment allows energy use to be estimated and reported for projects even if they weren’t modeled.

Sensing buy-in, I jumped upon my well-worn soap-box: If we are going to do this, we will need all project managers to become “fluent” in Predicted Energy Use Intensity (PEUI) – what it is and how it‘s calculated – so one person doesn’t get stuck doing all the math. (I said this primarily because the person who might get stuck doing all the math was sitting next to me . . . and I needed to keep her on board.) Besides, it would allow us to spread the knowledge around. Heads were still nodding.

The signed Commitment letter went out a few days later. We were in.


2 Comments on “The AIA 2030 Commitment: System Intervention”

  1. SteveK says:

    MD – Sounds like you and your firm are on the way – Congratulations!
    We here at the Chicago, IL AIA Chapter have a similar view and have signed on a number of firms. Lots of discussion is happening and with good results.
    Check out our progress and information on the Commitment on our website –

  2. Mike Davis FAIA says:

    Excellent site, Steve. Nice overview of programs and tools! I’ll bounce this to the BSA COTE folks and the BSA Board as well. Thank you!

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