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The Angle

October 21, 2010
“Lame Duck” Session Preview; Seattle Candidates Meet AIA Members; Architects’ Involvement in Fall Elections; and more…



A Call for AIA Member Input – Help Us Build the 2011 AIA Advocacy Agenda

AIA Wins Coveted 2010 International Association for Public Participation Award



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Washington Report

Congressional “Lame Duck” Session Could See Action on Energy, Tax Bills

Even as members of Congress barnstorm across their states and districts rounding up votes for the November 2 midterm elections, planning is underway for Congress to reconvene after the election to address issues still on its plate.

A so-called “lame duck” session is not a rare occurrence; in fact, there have been five such sessions in the last 16 years. They are controversial, however, since they enable legislators who either lost their re-election bids or have announced their retirement to vote on pending issues for the newly-elected Congress will not be sworn in until January 3.

Although the exact agenda and duration of a lame duck session is not known, Congress does have a number of issues it needs to resolve before 2010 ends, including passing budget bills for most federal agencies (or a short-term spending bill called a continuing resolution) and an extension of surface transportation programs, which expires on December 31. In addition, the 2001 and 2003 “Bush tax cuts” expire on New Year’s Eve. Although Congress could extend them in 2011 and make them retroactive, employers will need to begin adjusting paycheck withholding on January 1 if they are not extended.

It also is possible that Congress will take up legislation relating to energy. Pressure has grown on Congressional leaders to pass a slimmed-down energy bill in lieu of a comprehensive climate change bill which failed to advance in the Senate. Such a bill may include a residential and/or commercial building energy retrofit program; a requirement that utilities derive a portion of their energy from renewable sources; and, possibly, extensions of various energy efficiency and renewable energy tax incentives. The AIA has advocated that Congress enlarge the energy efficient commercial building tax deduction from its current $1.80 to $3.00 per square foot; enact a BuildingSTAR commercial building retrofit program; and address prohibitions by federal regulators on Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) bonds.

Although the election will not have a direct impact on the work of Congress in November and December, it will likely affect the degree to which Republicans and Democrats can work together. If Republicans make major gains on November 2, they may be less willing to pass legislation during a lame duck when Democrats still have more votes. On the other hand, they may be willing to clear certain items off the Congressional to-do list in order to start fresh in 2011.



    For more information, contact Andrew Goldberg, senior director, Federal Relations.

Federal Livability Grant Awards Could Lead to Work for Architecture Firms

Recently, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the winners of several grant programs and, in so doing, allocated nearly $700 million to rebuild and renew our communities.

First, HUD announced the winners of their $100 million Sustainable Community Planning Grant. The 45 recipients can use these funds to support one of two functions: assisting in regional planning for sustainable development where such plans do not currently exist; and supporting implementation of existing sustainability plans. Grant recipients will be looking to partner with design firms and other entities to execute the grants. Firms can find out more about the grants and recipients by visiting this link.

A smaller pool of money was also available through the EPA Brownfields Area-Wide Planning Program. Twenty-three communities – many in under-served and economically-disadvantaged areas – were awarded up to $175,000 each to develop area-wide plans for the reuse of brownfields. Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, praised the approach for “recognizing that revitalization of the communities impacted by multiple brownfield sites or a large individual site – particularly in distressed communities – requires a strategy for area-wide improvement to attract investment to redevelop brownfields properties.” More about the Brownfields Area-Wide Grant can be found by visiting this link.

Finally, the DOT Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) II Grants allocated $600 million to capital construction and planning for infrastructure projects ranging from bridges and roads to ports and transit facilities. This comes just a year and a half after TIGER I distributed over $1.5 billion to infrastructure projects of similar national and regional importance. The TIGER grants have clearly demonstrated the tremendous need for infrastructure funding, as TIGER II alone generated over 1000 applications for more than $19 billion in project support. More information can be found through this link.

All three grants exhibit the Administration’s commitment to interagency partnership and more holistic approaches to local and regional planning. HUD, DOT, and the EPA staffs collaborated closely to review these applications and determine which were best suited for planning or implementation. Many firms have received work from stimulus projects in the last 18 months and architects should be aware that the government expects these grant recipients to create or preserve jobs quickly.



    For more information, contact Cooper Martin, manager, Federal Policy and Research Development.

AIA to Hold QBS Seminar for Government Employees, Contractors

On November 9, the AIA and the Council on Federal Procurement of Architecture and Engineering Services (COFPAES) will host a day-long workshop, “Qualifications-Based Selection (QBS) Contracting for A/E Services,” at AIA National’s headquarters in Washington, DC. Bruce Ware of the Army Corps of Engineers will facilitate a discussion on the elements of the acquisition of firms via the 40 USC 1101/10 USC 2855 and FAR part 36.6 QBS process.

Registration for private-sector attendees is $215, while fees will be waived for government employees (by invitation only). Lunch will be included.



AIA Seattle Hosts Successful Candidate Forum

AIA Seattle hosted a candidate forum for the city’s Eastside state legislative candidates October 12. At the event, three State House candidates (seeking the 41st and 48th District seats, respectively) and one running for the 48th Senate District seat discussed issues facing the region’s cities that affect the profession. Specifically, candidates offered their views on design and urban planning, with a focus on Kirkland, Bellevue, Redmond, and Mercer Island.

The economy also was a hot topic at the forum. The Evergreen State has lost over 7,000 architecture and engineering jobs in the last two years alone. The forum gave candidates the opportunity to address how they believe they could help the profession recover.

“The candidates were very complimentary and appreciated being able to respond to a different set of questions,” Susan Busch, AIA, lead organizer for the forum, said.

“Their responses were not the typical canned sound bites that we would hear in an advertisement or that they would give to a larger/wider audience. We would definitely do it again, taking what we learned from this event to the next one. We had a great moderator and a great location at one of the larger firms in the area,” said Busch.

Candidate forums help AIA members understand how elected officials can work together to help the architectural profession while benefitting their communities as a whole. During these difficult economic times, it is especially important that our members are civically engaged, and AIA National congratulates AIA Seattle for hosting such a successful event.

Candidate forums help AIA members understand how elected officials can work together to help the architecture profession while benefitting their communities as a whole. During these difficult economic times, it is especially important that our members are civically engaged, and AIA National congratulates AIA Seattle for achieving such a successful forum.



    For additional information, contact Renée Wadsworth, manager, Local Relations.

    To learn more about candidate forums in general, please contact Adam Melis, director, Advocacy Outreach.

AIA POV: Energy Code Moves toward Completion

With today’s conspicuous promotion of green building and sustainability, it is easy to forget that most commercial buildings do what they have always done: meet local building energy codes. While these buildings are more energy efficient than if there were no code at all, they are far from the best we can do.

The lack of any Congressional action to reduce energy consumption as part of climate change or energy legislation means the opportunity for improving building efficiency standards falls into different, yet still powerful hands: state and local building code officials.

At the end of October, these local government representatives will gather in Charlotte, North Carolina, to vote on changes to the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), a national model for energy codes available for adoption by local jurisdictions.

New Buildings Institute (NBI), the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the U.S. Department of Energy have partnered on a comprehensive proposal for the commercial chapter (EC 147) of the IECC, which will be considered at the Charlotte conference.

The measures outlined in EC 147 are not untested or new-to-market ideas. The upgrades to equipment specifications and design strategies are already in the marketplace and affordable. Buildings that meet the proposed code would be at least 20 percent more energy efficient than those complying with the current version. Additional proposals, if adopted, could increase efficiencies up to 30 percent – the largest single-step increase in IECC history.

Similar code requirements have already been adopted by Massachusetts and New Mexico and are being considered by Oregon and Vermont. And for years, NBI has been working with utility efficiency programs that promote the construction of buildings designed on the exact same principles.

Some might argue that in today’s economy, improving codes simply passes extra costs on to the commercial building industry. We think energy efficiency is a prime example of what our economy needs to resume growing. Higher performing buildings can be built for little or no premium, and changing codes to use readily-available technology and building techniques keeps additional costs nominal and quickly recoverable through year-after-year energy savings – money that can go directly back to businesses.

Buildings already consume about two-thirds of the U.S. power supply and account for 40 percent of our greenhouse gas emissions. Our energy independence goals cannot be met without significant gains in energy efficiency, and codes for commercial buildings are the most powerful tool around to drive these gains. Let’s hope code officials vote “yes” on EC 147 in Charlotte and seize their historic opportunity to build an economy that is less reliant on fossil fuels – now and into the future. line


    For more information on the IECC and codes advocacy programs, please contact Jessyca Henderson, AIA, director, Sustainability Advocacy.

Architects Get Involved in 2010 Elections

The 2010 elections are fast-approaching and AIA members have been in a frenzy of activity. From delivering ArchiPAC checks to candidates for Congress to holding candidate and policy forums to running for office themselves, architects are positioning themselves front-and-center this election cycle. No matter the outcome of the elections at the local, state, and federal levels, the November 2 results are likely to have dramatic impacts on policy from coast to coast.

ArchiPAC Support

Earlier this week, Portland, Oregon-area architects and allied professionals came together to support Oregon Representative Earl Blumenauer, Hon. AIA (D) at a fundraiser held at the AIA Portland offices. Blumenauer is one of Congress’ biggest proponents of livable communities and the power of design, and he has worked closely with architects across the country to find ways to meet the country’s infrastructure needs. In a roundtable luncheon, Blumenauer applauded architects and urged them to action.

“We need you [architects]—the more people that take you seriously as a profession, the more positive things you can do for public policy,” he said. “There is no substitute for standing up for your interests because someone else will be standing up for theirs.”

And in Texas, AIA member John Nyfeler, AIA, made a request for ArchiPAC support for Texas Representative Lloyd Doggett (D) back in August. After reviewing the request, the ArchiPAC Steering Committee found that Doggett not only has supported many key issues for the AIA, but he also has a strong relationship with the local chapter. Doggett came to the Texas Society of Architects’ office to meet with members and staff in late September to receive public acknowledgement of his support of AIA positions, including his votes for the 21st Century High Performing School Facilities Act and the Small Business Financing and Investment Act of 2009.

Shown with Rep. Doggett (2nd from left) are (L to R): interim TSA executive vice president Tommy Cowan, FAIA; AIA Austin executive director Sally Fly, Hon. AIA; and, John Nyfeler, FAIA, representing ArchiPAC, the AIA’s political action committee.

Out in Colorado, a group of architects made a similar request came last month for Rep. Ed Perlmutter, Hon. AIA (D). The event was held at OZ Architecture’s offices in Denver. Perlmutter, who has worked closely with the AIA on green residential legislation, has been a great friend of architects, dating back to his state legislature days. A group of architects delivered the contribution at the event, which was focused on the design and planning community.

In addition to the examples above, there have been a plethora of requests from AIA chapters and members for ArchiPAC support of incumbents and challengers alike. Those requests granted, with contributions delivered by local architect members, include Mayor John Callahan (D), candidate in Pennsylvania’s 15th Congressional District; Pat Meehan (R), candidate for the 7th District in the Keystone State; and Rep. Mike Ross (D) of Arkansas’ 3rd District. And in Nevada, the component made a request for Rep. Dina Titus (D), who has also been a strong supporter of issues such as livability, green tax incentives, and investments in infrastructure. To show their support, Nevada architects organized an “Architects for Titus” rally, which took place October 18, and where they presented an ArchiPAC check to her.

In the last month, ArchiPAC also has supported incumbent Representatives David Dreier (R-FL), John Mica (R-FL), Jim Oberstar (D-MN), and Fred Upton (R-MI), among others. For a full list of ArchiPAC contributions to candidates, visit

Running for Office

Architects are not just supporting candidates the fight for the issues important to architects and the AIA; many are running for office themselves. From city council to state legislature to county advisors, citizen architects realize the importance of civic engagement.

For a list of architects running for office, visit If you know of any AIA members running for office that are not on this list, please email their name and other relevant information to Hannah Wesolowski.


Finally, don’t forget to visit the AIA’s DesignVote Voter Guide to learn about where candidates stand on the issues and for resources on how to get more involved during and after the elections. Remember, the elections are only 12 days away!

Member Input Requested: AIA Policy on Project Delivery

The AIA issues public policies and position statements as statements of belief to policy-makers, the public, and the construction industry on issues of public policy affecting the membership, the profession of architecture, or the Institute.

To that end, Position Statement 26 (“Project Delivery”) is being submitted to leadership, members, and key stakeholder groups for consideration and comment. Upon conclusion of the public comment period (November 12), staff will develop a discussion draft of all submitted comments. The Board Advocacy Committee will review the comments prior to submission to the full Board for consideration and final adoption during the December 2010 Board meeting.



    To review, vote, and/or comment on Position Statement 26 (“Project Delivery”), click here. The deadline for voting and comments is November 12.

ArchiPAC Regional Challenge: Opportunity for Architects to Step Up in the 2010 Elections

Texas, South Atlantic Region are Top Regional Fundraisers


With only 12 days to go until the November 2 elections, politics is on most everyone’s mind. It is only fitting that the ArchiPAC Regional Challenge also is going strong right now. The Challenge is a peer-to-peer initiative to try to get more architects engaged in the AIA’s advocacy efforts through ArchiPAC, the AIA’s federal political action committee.

The Congress that is elected in November will face a lot of tough, but vital, issues -- important to the profession and the nation’s future. These include freeing up the credit markets; building a 21st century national infrastructure system; helping create livable communities; and reducing the tax and regulatory burdens harming small businesses. A strong ArchiPAC will ensure that architects have the relationships on Capitol Hill to be part of the conversation surrounding this legislation.

The goal for the Challenge, from all regions, is to raise $50,000 by the end of the year, but there is a more immediate and urgent goal of raising $25,000 by Election Day so that ArchiPAC can support the candidates in this election that care about the issues important to architects (for a full list of the candidates ArchiPAC has supported so far this year, click here). As an incentive, the winning regions will be able to select a charity from a list of organizations or foundations in that region that benefit emerging architecture professionals and architecture students.

To learn more about the Challenge, visit and to find out which candidates ArchiPAC has supported in the 2010 election, click here.



    For more information on the Challenge, to participate in upcoming conference calls, or for general questions about ArchiPAC, contact Hannah Wesolowski, manager, Political Programs.

AIA Member Joins Maryland Governmental Panels

Tom Liebel, AIA, was sworn in recently as Commissioner to Baltimore’s City Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP) by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. The Commission is charged with enhancing and promoting the culture and economy of Baltimore through the preservation of buildings, structures, sites, and neighborhoods that have aesthetic, historic, and architectural value. Furthermore, CHAP is responsible for reviewing over 11,000 locally-designated properties across more than 20 local historic districts.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake congratulates Tom Liebel, AIA, after being sworn in.

Subsequently, Liebel was appointed by Governor Martin O’Malley to the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission, a newly-established body charged with assessing and advising on the progress of state, regional, and local planning in Maryland in achieving the goals of state economic growth, resource protection, and planning policy.

Liebel, a principal with Marks, Thomas Architects, has practiced architecture for 20 years and is recognized for work in the adaptive use of historic industrial structures and sustainable design. He has published numerous articles and a book (Industrial Baltimore), and has lectured at more than 40 national and international conferences and universities nationwide presenting case-studies in urban revitalization, adaptive use of historic structures, brownfields redevelopment, and sustainable design.



The Angle will present a special post-election edition November 4 with the latest news on election returns and what it means for the issues on which the AIA advocates – so stay tuned!

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The Angle is published by the AIA Government and Community Relations Department, 1735 New York Ave., NW, Washington, DC, 20006. To contact The Angle, send an email to


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