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Public Advocacy – Sample Op-Ed Submissions and Letters to the Editor

The most effective advocates for the architecture profession are AIA elected leadership and other practitioners across the country.  The AIA Board Advocacy Sub-committee on Public Engagement has developed a strategy for speaking out on issues by providing “templated opinion pieces” to component leadership that can either be submitted as letters to the editor or as op-eds to local print and online media. 

These letters or opinion pieces will “tee up” an issue that has yet to receive coverage or in some cases respond to issues that have been covered in the media - such as jobs, small business stimulus, pending national legislation, sustainability, design relevance, etc. They are intended to assist local AIA leaders in speaking out on issues important to the profession.  Our subcommittee, with the able assistance of AIA national advocacy and communications staff, will create templates that will be well researched, compatible with AIA approved position statements and consistent with statements, press releases and advocacy initiatives at all levels of the AIA.

We cannot be the authoritative voice for the profession if we do not speak out on issues that are important to architects.  This strategy will only be effective through the participation of AIA leadership across the country.   The templates will allow for some customization and will be designed to be signed and sent by the local AIA leader.  The technique will be similar to the legislative advocacy letters available through the AIA Action Center and should be simple to edit and send.

November 2013 - The Coming Tax Hikes No One Wants to Talk About

Despite all the talk of budget gridlock in Washington, the expiration of dozens of tax breaks – an event that will raise revenue for the federal government without much fanfare or debate - takes place at the end of the year. In fact, 55 federal tax incentives used by small business and individual taxpayers are scheduled to go up in a puff of smoke.

The most important from a design and construction perspective is the expiration of an incentive in the tax code known as 179D. Enacted in 2005 for energy efficient commercial buildings within the Energy Policy Act, this provision allows for building owners to claim a tax deduction of $1.80 per sq. ft. of building area to install systems that reduce the total energy and power costs by 50 percent or more when compared with a reference building.

Retention of this tax incentive – and even the expansion of it – has been an AIA goal now for at least two Congresses. This opinion piece serves as a vehicle for you to reach out to local newspapers with this message. Its inclusion in a list of other expiring tax incentives for businesses and individuals serves to highlight a little-noticed fact that we think will garner some interest in local media. “The Coming Tax Hikes No One Wants to Talk About”

October 2013 – Is Your Long Commute Killing Democracy?

This edition highlights an interesting link between the amount of time people spend commuting to work and their own amount of civic engagement, especially on issues that affect their daily lives such as funding for transportation projects. A recent study by the University of Connecticut and Stony Brook University found such a link. In the wake of the ongoing federal government shut-down, we think the piece may have some news value with local publications. The Op-Ed also mentions that AIA and Carnegie Mellon University Art are hosting a Remaking Cities Congress in Pittsburgh this month to discuss strategies for making the places where we live healthier and more vibrant. “Is Your Long Commute Killing Democracy?”

July 2013 – The Upcoming Senate Vote for Higher Energy Bills

As soon as next week, we expect a bill to be introduced by Sen. Sen. John Hoeven (R-North Dakota) that would eliminate Section 433(a) of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. The 2007 law requires federal agencies to phase out the consumption of energy from greenhouse-gas-emitting sources in newly constructed or renovated federal buildings by 2030, unless they can show such reductions are not technically feasible. This is a law that the AIA fought long and hard to pass in the last decade. Eliminating it would be bad public policy and bad news for our profession.

We expect Senator Hoeven’s bill to be added as an amendment to the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act, which we otherwise support and which is expected to be voted on next week. But with that amendment, the AIA and a host of other groups would be forced to oppose the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act. The attached Op-Ed makes the case against Sen. Hoeven’s bill, and we urge you to submit it to local newspapers and editorial outlets. It has the added advantage of having a “news peg.” “The Upcoming Senate Vote for Higher Energy Bills”

May 2013 – Do Not Renege on Federal Energy Efficiency Commitments

A week from today, May 8, the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act will be marked up by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. We heartily support that legislation. But we expect an amendment to that bill to be introduced by Sen. Sen. John Hoeven (R-North Dakota) that may eliminate Section 433(a) of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. The 2007 law requires federal agencies to phase out the consumption of energy from greenhouse-gas-emitting sources in newly constructed or renovated federal buildings by 2030, unless they can show such reductions are not technically feasible.

Eliminating that provision would be bad public policy and bad news for our profession. As a result, the AIA has taken a lead role in drafting and sending today a letter to Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and ranking Republican Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, signed by more than 350 companies and organizations from environmental groups to real estate developers urging the committee not to weaken or eliminate energy conservation requirements in federal buildings. “Do Not Renege on Federal Energy Efficiency Commitments”

February 2013 – Let’s Get America Building Again

The February installment attempts to leverage the ongoing fiscal battles on Capitol Hill, only some of which have been solved – for the time being. Sequestration still looms come March 1, and the debt ceiling has been extended only temporarily. What this piece does is attempt to let the reader imagine what life would be like in Washington, D.C. (and used to be like) when such battles were not so acrimonious and disputes over public policy actually centered on ways policymakers can address the country’s challenges. Such is the case with the AIA’s Federal Agenda, which is spelled out in plain simple language in the attached opinion piece. We think given this context, the piece might resonate with editorial boards and local business publications if you choose to submit it. “Let’s Get America Building Again”

December 2012 – Architects Are Eager to Assist in Superstorm Sandy Recovery

This month’s piece, which is, by intention, authored by AIANYS President Kelly Hayes McAlonie and deals with the issue of liability for architects whenever they volunteer their assistance during times of disaster, and the disaster wrought by Superstorm Sandy on the east coast is a case in point. Your state may already have a Good Sam law on the books. Take a look at this link to determine if you do. If you do not, we urge you to submit this piece to the opinion page of your local newspaper or business journal. If you do have it, it is still worth submitting as it’s important that we achieve consensus on the national level on this issue, and the piece calls out a proposed bill in Congress that would do just that. “Architects Are Eager to Assist in Superstorm Sandy Recovery”

Public Engagement Subcommittee of the AIA Board Advocacy Committee
Russell A. Davidson, AIA – Regional Director, New York State
Jeff Gill, AIA – Regional Director, California
Bill Wilson, FAIA – Regional Director, Texas
Bill Bishop, AIA – Regional Director, Florida

AIA National Staff Liaison:
John Schneidawind, Director, Public Affairs & Media Relations

202.626.7457
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