The AIA 2030 Commitment: The Sine Qua Non

Sine qua non. Latin. In law, it means an essential condition or requirement. A prerequisite. Literally translated, it means “without which not.”

Project managers are the sine qua non of the AIA 2030 Commitment. If you don’t have your project managers on board, your architecture firm’s AIA 2030 Commitment goals will not be met.

We were nearing the end of our first-year reporting period at Bergmeyer. Our leadership team was getting an update from Dee, our sustainability coordinator. She was in charge of the big kahuna of AIA 2030 compliance reporting: the spreadsheet that recorded all our projects’ Predicted Energy Use Intensity (PEUI) in Kbtu’s of energy per square foot per year.

Her summary: For many projects, reporting was complete. Some projects were in good shape but we still needed to collect the numbers. A few projects would have trouble meeting the deadline.

The key to timely completion? The project managers.

Everyone at an architectural firm these days is cranking at 110%. But when I think of project managers, James (“the hardest-working man in show business”) Brown always comes to mind. Good PMs are solid gold. But I felt a need to test a premise: At this point, ten months into our first AIA 2030 year, how well did our project managers understand PEUI? 

I sent 30-minute appointments to three PMs saying “let’s talk AIA 2030 Commitment”.  In a moment of inspiration, I turned a couple envelopes into flash cards to help us get to the point. One said “PEUI”, the other said “Kbtu/sf/yr”.

Project manager #1 (we’ll call her Mary) was in my office exactly on time, notebook in hand. We started with intro questions: What do you know about the AIA 2030 Commitment? She was all over it. Ed Mazria, carbon-neutrality, architecture and climate change. I pulled out the flash cards. Kbtu/sf/yr? A measure of a building’s total energy use. Nice. And how are her projects doing? They’re all LEED-Registered, so the PEUI data was already in Dee’s hands. Excellent. We were done in ten minutes.

Project manager #2 (we’ll call him Bob) was relatively easy to nail down since he’s managing one of my projects. Bob was already a regular in my office: Mike, I need you to review and sign this pile of requisitions. Sure, I said, right after you answer a few questions. AIA 2030 Commitment? Check. Kbtu/sf/yr? Double-check. And how are your projects doing, Bob? They’re all interiors, so we’re just recording the Lighting Power Density (LPD). But we’re incorporating LED’s and motion sensors. Our designed LPDs are pretty low these days. Thanks, Bob. I signed the requisitions.

Project manager #3 (we’ll call him Ed) missed my first appointment. A site meeting ran over. Fortunately, I caught him at the coffee machine the next morning. How about right now? He conceded five minutes. Flashcards ready, we began the quiz. The AIA 2030 Commitment? Yeah, we’re trying to get our buildings to use less energy. PEUI? That looked familiar. He remembered that Dee had given him a form to fill out. Kbtu/sf/yr? A smart guy, he figured it out on the spot. And how are your projects doing, Ed? None of them had been energy-modeled, so he was just required to provide the name of the energy code they were designed to meet. Dee said she’d figure out the PEUI. His cell phone was poised. He had a lot on his plate. Thanks, Ed, that would cover me.

What did I learn from this little experiment?

The random sampling had confirmed my assumptions. Our LEED projects would be ahead of code to varying degrees and PEUI – although not yet widely used as a design tool – would nonetheless be an indicator of progress. Interiors-only projects would benefit from our expertise in LEDs and probably pull down our aggregate PEUI. But that big chunk of our work that wasn’t energy-modeled and just met code? That would be 2030 trouble.

The good news was the gospel (or the rhythm and blues, as the case may be) of the AIA 2030 Commitment was being spread. But I was starting to sweat our composite first-year reporting results . . .

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One Comment on “The AIA 2030 Commitment: The Sine Qua Non”

  1. a6bernhardt says:

    let me guess: rachel?


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