The AIA 2030 Commitment: What’s the Deal?

If you’ve read all you want about the Green New Deal or have already dismissed it as impossible, you won’t want to read this blog post.

Still with me? OK, then.

On February 11, 2019, the American Institute of Architects Tweeted: “The AIA supports the Green New Deal framework. We applaud the efforts of Congress and its committees to find new ways to support achieving a carbon neutral future by 2030.” In the full press release, 2019 AIA President Bill Bates added: “However, there’s a great deal of work that needs to be done. AIA encourages Congress to swiftly enact public policies today that will address the dire consequences we’re facing.”

As an AIA Member whose firm has signed the 2030 Commitment and is working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fight climate change, I applaud this measured and objective endorsement of the GND as a non-binding and aspirational goal statement. But heck, from the furor in the politisphere, you’d think the Resolution was copied from the Communist Manifesto.

Can we turn down the heat and just look at what it says?

On page 6 of my copy, after all the “Whereases” and the “Resolveds” comes the call for a “10-year national mobilization” to accomplish some specific “goals and projects”. To me, this part says “this is what the US federal government should be working on for the next ten years”. The goals include:

  • A. Building resiliency against climate-change related disasters. I’m good with that.
  • B. Repairing and upgrading the national infrastructure. OK by me.
  • C. Meeting 100% of the US power demands with renewable energy. Seems like a must-do.
  • D. Creating an energy-efficient, distributed, and “smart” power grid. I like it.
  • E. Upgrading all existing buildings to achieve maximal energy efficiency. Sign me up.
  • H. Overhauling transportation systems to “eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector as much as is technologically feasible”. No objection here.
  • I. Mitigating the long-term health impacts of pollution and climate change. A no-brainer.

The Resolution has fourteen of these goals. The ones I have cited are the most meaningful to me as a citizen-architect. I don’t know very much about carbon storage or biodiversity or sustainable farming practices, so I’ll pass on commenting. And – honestly – I don’t know if all of this is even achievable, but this is what this AIA 2030 Commitment signer (and voter) WANTS the US federal government to be working on for the next ten years. Let’s get going on this, Congress.

And while I have the floor, every email I get from the AIA has a tag line. It says:

  • “Founded in 1857, AIA consistently works to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings, neighborhoods, and communities. Through more than 200 international, state and local chapters, AIA advocates for public policies that promote economic vitality and public wellbeing.”

The goals I listed above? They sure sound like public policies that promote economic vitality and public wellbeing to me.

And one more thing. My AIA also has a Code of Ethics. Among the many things it binds me as an AIA Member to are this:

  • Ethical Standard 2.4: “Members should . . . advise their clients and employers of their obligations to the environment, including: access to clean air, water, sunlight and energy for all; sustainable production, extraction, transportation and consumption practices; a built environment that equitably supports human health and well-being and is resistant to climate change; and restoring degraded or depleted natural resources.”

That’s my case. I yield the balance of my time.

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2 Comments on “The AIA 2030 Commitment: What’s the Deal?”

  1. Your dialogue is always on target.


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