The AIA 2030 Commitment: What Now?

MasAsHell

So the United States federal government has gone back on its commitment to the 2015 UNFCCC Paris Climate Change Agreement. If you (like me) are mad as hell and can’t take it anymore, you’re no doubt also wondering what to do.

If you’re an architect or designer working in a US architectural firm, and your firm belongs to the American Institute of Architects, I have a suggestion: Sign the AIA 2030 Commitment. Do it now, before you cool off.

What will that accomplish? Allow me to elaborate.

Mayors of US Cities have announced that they’re sticking to the Paris carbon reduction guidelines. Many US States are sticking with it, too. California, Washington, and New York have banded together to form a climate alliance. California Governor Jerry Brown is on his way to China to rally support for his state’s initiatives.

Many major US corporations support the Paris Agreement. Seventy percent of all Americans support the Paris Agreements. The American Institute of Architects supports the Paris Agreement.

Why? Because all those companies, people, and organizations, states, and municipal governments want to do whatever is within their powers to reduce the production of greenhouse gasses. And you do, too. See, that’s where signing the AIA 2030 Commitment comes in.

Because the AIA 2030 Commitment is – in fact – very much like the Paris Agreement. But unlike a global accord, it’s something your firm can participate in!

Hear me out. The Paris Agreement is a UN-sponsored compact created to reduce global greenhouse gas production. It’s voluntary and non-binding. Participating nations establish their own nationally determined contributions to carbon reduction. Nations self-report their progress every five years, and pay on a sliding scale into a maintenance and reinvestment fund.

But the greatest thing about the Paris Agreement: everyone is (was) all in together.

The AIA 2030 Commitment is a national framework targeting carbon neutrality in the
building industry by 2030. It is voluntary and non-binding. Participating firms work against pre-established energy efficiency targets, but there’s no penalty for not hitting them. Firms self-report every year using a slick web-based reporting tool developed by the AIA with the US DOE . . . which we all (kinda) already paid for with our sliding-scale AIA National dues. It’s a fabulous, transformative program.

But the sad thing is: We’re not all in together. Not even close.

A recent report by the AIA Committee on the Environment, “The Habits of High-Performing Firms”, captured the grim statistics. There are 20,000 AIA Member firms in the USA. In 2016, 366 firms signed the Commitment and only 152 firms reported in 2015. That means only 1% – one percent – of all US architecture firms were part of an active, industry-sponsored initiative to do exactly the same damned thing the Paris Agreement was created to do.

In 2015, the average energy reduction for the nearly 6,000 projects submitted to the 2030 Commitment was 38.1%. So it works. But first, you have to sign up.

There’s your answer. Have your firm sign the AIA 2030 Commitment. Now. If you’re not a firm principal, go to your bosses’ offices or cubicles or workstations on Monday morning. Get ’em while they’re still on their first cup of coffee. Implore them to sign it. Tell them to sign in solidarity with all those states, cities, and corporations. Tell them it’s time for the architects to step up. Tell them the good people of America want them to sign.

Tell them it’s an act of protest. Because it is.

Anger is an energy. Use it. Get with the program.

#Vinceremos  (Thanks, Rus!)

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2 Comments on “The AIA 2030 Commitment: What Now?”

  1. Greg Mella says:

    Thanks for that Mike. Without leadership from the government, it’s now more critical than ever for firms to assert their values and take the reins of leadership. Your post is the call to action we need right now.

  2. Mike Davis FAIA says:

    Thanks, Greg! Let’s hope the architects out there heed the call!


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