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AIA Government & Community Relations News: Week of January 23, 2012

Contact | Federal Relations | State Relations | Local Relations |Codes Advocacy | Communities by Design | Advocacy365

AIA headlines this week include:

“In the News” – links to other news sources:


AIA Assists Hopi Nation with Sustainability Plans

This year, the American Institute of Architects is honored to work with a tribal jurisdiction for the first time in the Sustainable Design Assessment Team’s (SDAT) seven-year history. Sipaulovi Village, Arizona is one of seven SDAT communities in the 2012 program. The Village is located on the Second Mesa, in Hopi Nation.

Last week, the Center for Communities by Design completed its initial visit to Sipaulovi Village, meeting with Village Elders, community representatives, and members of the Sipaulovi Development Corporation. The team also toured the sacred plaza, local housing, new development areas, and the local sacred springs. The project team leader is Wayne Feiden, FAICP, who serves as Planning Director in Northampton, Massachusetts. Northampton received an SDAT in 2005.

Sipaulovi Village represents a community that is over 1,000 years old, but has no formal planning tradition. The SDAT project will focus on creating a land use strategy for the Village that serves to balance tradition with modernity, and contribute to the vitality and health of the Village as a unique place. Village leaders have been working to adapt to several recent events, most notably the closing of the Mohave power station, which formerly served as a revenue source for the community. The Village formed the Sipaulovi Development Corporation as a non-profit entity that could lead economic development efforts in the community. The Village has also adopted a vision and draft strategic plan for the future. Local leaders are hoping to build upon these efforts with the AIA’s assistance to create an enduring legacy for future generations and “sustain ourselves as a community.”

The full SDAT Team will return in late spring to engage in an intensive planning process with the Village. For more information about the project, consult the formal SDAT Application.


As IgCC Launch Nears, AIA Works to Prepare Members on Changes in Practice

The 2012 International Green Construction Code (IgCC), a new model code that is focused on addressing green building design and performance in both existing buildings and in new construction, will be published in March 2012. The AIA is working to prepare members and AIA components for the changes in practice that will come about as a result of possible code adoption.

There are many changes likely to appear in the final code. Dave Collins, FAIA, a codes expert, provides the following summary of changes to the IgCC public version:

    Chapter 1 – Use of ASHRAE 189 to be a "deemed to comply" option was moved to Chapter 1 (although the decision to include a reference to it is the purview of the International Code Council [ICC] Board)

    Chapter 3 – Project Electives were moved from the body of the code to an Appendix

    Chapter 4 – Infill development is allowed in designated floodplain development areas

    Chapter 5 – Building service life as a method of measurement was deleted

    Chapter 6 – A measurement system (zEPI) that reflects a scale to achieve zero energy use was incorporated

    Chapter 6 – Outcome-based design option was removed

    Chapter 8 – Daylighting was significantly refined to reflect current practice

    Chapter 9 – Post-occupancy requirements for owner responsibility for operations and reporting were deleted

    Chapter 10 – Building operations and sales requirements for existing buildings were removed

    Chapter 11 – Requires impacts of implementation to be determined by the National Register of Historic Places

This is just a sample of some of the design and practice issues that AIA is currently examining in the new model code. The AIA will continue to post resources on the Issues & Advocacy website and on the AIA’s IgCC resource site. In the coming months, the AIA will post resources online and will host information sessions at Grassroots and the AIA National Convention.

For any further questions, please contact Stephanie Spear, Manager of Codes Advocacy, at 202-626-7449.


Obama Offers “Blueprint” for Growth

On Tuesday night, President Obama proposed a “blueprint for an economy that’s built to last” in his last State of the Union address prior to the 2012 election.

“Tonight, I want to speak about how we move forward, and lay out a blueprint for an economy that’s built to last - an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values,” Obama told the annual gathering of lawmakers, Supreme Court justices, Cabinet officials, and dignitaries.

In the Republican response, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels said, “2012 is a year of true opportunity, maybe our last, to restore an America of hope and upward mobility, and greater equality.”

Obama outlined several policy proposals that could affect the built environment and the design and construction industry. He expressed support for investments in infrastructure as well as tax incentives for energy efficient buildings – a key AIA priority. He also called for policies to help small businesses, saying, “Most new jobs are created in start-ups and small businesses. So let’s pass an agenda that helps them succeed. Tear down regulations that prevent aspiring entrepreneurs from getting the financing to grow. Expand tax relief to small businesses that are raising wages and creating good jobs. Both parties agree on these ideas. So put them in a bill, and get it on my desk this year.”

Discussing the mortgage foreclosure crisis, Obama proposed a plan “that gives every responsible homeowner the chance to save about $3,000 a year on their mortgage, by refinancing at historically low interest rates.” And he called for relief for high student loan costs. “At a time when Americans owe more in tuition debt than credit card debt, this Congress needs to stop the interest rates on student loans from doubling in July. Extend the tuition tax credit we started that saves middle-class families thousands of dollars.”

Obama indicated support for reform of the tax code, particularly changes that would prevent U.S. companies from being “able to avoid paying its fair share of taxes by moving jobs and profits overseas.” In addition, he announced his administration will create a “Trade Enforcement Unit that will be charged with investigating unfair trade practices in countries like China.” Obama focused his trade policy remarks primarily on goods as opposed to services.

In his response, Indiana Gov. Daniels called for “a dramatically simpler tax system of fewer loopholes and lower rates. A pause in the mindless piling on of expensive new regulations that devour dollars that otherwise could be used to hire somebody. . . . [and] maximizing on the new domestic energy technologies that are the best break our economy has gotten in years.”

The details of the White House’s agenda will be more fleshed out in the budget the President will submit to Congress in early February. In addition, congressional Republicans are developing an agenda they hope to bring before the House. It is unclear how much, if any, of the proposals will advance in Congress at a time of high partisanship and with the election nine months away.

Stay tuned to the AIA’s Issues and Advocacy page for regular updates on key policy issues before Congress.


Disaster Resilience for Business Owners

Most architecture firms are small businesses and, like any small business, their entire existence can be threatened by even minor or localized disasters. David Paulison, former executive director of FEMA, estimates that between 40-60 percent of small businesses do not survive floods, tornados, and other disasters.

While comprehensive planning and dedicated preparedness staff are out of the question, there are concrete steps that should be taken by small firms. Recently, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) partnered with Agility Recovery to launch Prepare My Business. The site offers planning tips that can help soften the blow and mitigate losses for everything from large scale disasters to pipe bursts, small fires, and server failures. Additional resources compiled by FEMA can be accessed at

For data and information-driven professionals such as architects, one of the most critical steps is to ensure that data is backed up and remotely accessible. Although your offices may be damaged, potential clients in other locations may still expect – and pay for – your work if you can find creative ways to continue operations.

When preparedness isn’t enough and your business is affected by a natural disaster, the SBA offers Disaster Loans for businesses as well as individual homeowners. Disaster Loans is the SBA’s largest direct loan program, providing $574 million in 2010 alone. Two kinds of disaster loans can be used to repair physical damage and recover economic loss. What’s more, the money can be used both to recover from the event and to add improvements or features that will mitigate future disasters.


SBA Outlines Resources for Small Design Firms

A senior official with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) briefed AIA members last week on the SBA’s efforts to help small business owners secure financing, business training and obtaining federal contracts. 

The AIA hosted Christopher Chan, a senior SBA official, on the AIA’s Monthly Virtual Advocacy call last Thursday. Chan discussed on ways that architects can use the SBA as a resource for moving their practice abroad. AIA members asked Chan about a range of issues, from winning a federal contract to how to work with the SBA on architectural size standards.

Chan noted that while the SBA is headquartered in Washington, the SBA has regional and local offices throughout the United States. He strongly recommended that small firms use the SBA Direct service to get local information on SBA resources and counseling in their hometown.

Next month’s AIA Virtual Advocacy Call, on Thursday, Feb. 16, at 4:00pm EST, will feature Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC). The Chairman of the House Committee on Small Business’ Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce, Mulvaney will outline what Congress is doing to help bring construction jobs back and how the subcommittee is focusing on helping the industry in 2012.


Government & Community Relations Archive:

This content is published by the AIA Government and Community Relations Department, 1735 New York Ave., NW, Washington, DC, 20006. To contact the AIA’s Government & Community Relations team, send an email to


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