State & local issues
Many issues that are most important to the practice of architecture are regulated at the state or local level. The advocacy of architects and design professionals—as thought and action leaders—is essential to designing a better future for our states, cities, townships, and neighborhoods.
State & local policy agenda
Architects can be powerful advocates for solutions within the built environment to address school safety, climate change, affordable housing, and an array of other daunting challenges. That means having a seat at the table when important civic decisions are made and playing a role in crafting public policy. The more architects work with state and local elected officials, the greater the positive impact on crucial issues facing the profession, the business, and our communities.
Learn about AIA's Policy Platform 2020, the basis of our advocacy work.
Top state & local priorities
Much of the debate regarding the government's response to school shootings has focused on guns and mental health. However, the design of schools is often overlooked as a factor that can significantly mitigate violence. This isn't about turning our schools into prisons or fortresses; we must maintain a positive learning environment while upholding the safety and security of students and teachers.
Hazardous weather events are on the rise and growing more erratic and frequent. Architects can use their expertise to design resilient buildings and infrastructure that successfully adapt to natural conditions and recover more quickly from these events. After a disaster, architects can conduct building-safety assessments to help those impacted return to their homes and businesses safely and quickly.
Buildings produce nearly 40% of greenhouse gas emissions. While we've made great strides to improve the energy efficiency of the building sector, too many existing buildings remain inefficient. Ninety-five percent of commercial buildings are over a decade old. Eighty-two percent of commercial buildings were built before 2000, when modern building energy codes were initially created and adopted. Efforts to increase energy efficiency in the existing U.S. building stock needs a fresh approach and new public policy solutions. AIA has long advocated for energy efficiency in buildings and communities and will continue doing so to address the climate crisis.
The United States has an affordable housing crisis that affects rural, suburban, and urban areas. In many communities, working and middle-class Americans cannot find affordable homes and buying a home—
especially for younger adults—has become almost impossible. Through innovative planning, management, and design strategies, architects can help create communities that are attainable for people of all incomes.
Today's cities face unprecedented challenges related to the built environment—challenges that require the expertise of licensed design professionals. In most major cities, early local governments relied on a city architect to establish a design vision and guide planning. Currently, however, very few cities employ architects in positions of leadership who are trained to address issues such as resilience and energy efficiency. Design thinking, facilitated by licensed AIA architects, is crucial to ensuring the appropriate and effective implementation of meaningful local solutions. AIA's City Architect initiative is designed to be scalable while continuing to meet the needs of a diverse range of communities.
Other state & local priorities
Up-to-date codes help save lives, improve building performance, and prevent damage from disaster. AIA works with industry partners to develop model codes and assist in their adoption.
In 2007, we helped establish the federal 2030 net zero energy goals. Today, we continue to push for ways to achieve meaningful energy conservation. On the state and local levels, we are working with state governments and local communities to reduce energy use in new and existing buildings.
Meanwhile, the permit review process can often cause unneeded and costly delays to projects. We provide models that can help reduce delays and advocate for legislation that streamlines permitting processes.
Architects are ethically and professionally responsible for protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the public in the built environment. AIA opposes efforts to weaken rigorous standards for architectural licensing. We also work to ensure that architectural services are only provided by individuals who have demonstrated competency through examinations, experience, and education.
In addition, architects face encroachment from many individuals looking to carve out a piece of the design business for themselves. We provide resources to defend the value of our profession.
Would you choose your surgeon based on price alone? Of course not. Unlike procuring discrete products, selecting a skilled professional like an architect requires looking beyond just the price. AIA supports a qualifications-based selection process, which keeps the focus on quality and limits design competitions that force architects to provide services and expertise for free.
AIA champions livable communities. Places where it is easy to walk or bike to schools and grocery stores and where there is room for wildlife, culture, and sports. We support transportation and housing policies that repair crumbling infrastructure, revive historic neighborhoods, and create healthier places to live.
We work with communities and elected officials to protect what is unique, and we assist in resiliency planning and disaster recovery to ensure communities can rise up again if the worst happens.
AIA strives to create a business environment that allows firms to focus on design. Over the years, we have helped defeat tax hikes that hurt architects, pushed for reforms that treat small design firms fairly, and worked to create an economic environment that allows our members' firms to grow.
Access the complete directory of AIA public policies and position statements adopted by the Board of Directors relating to the organization's work, mission, and values.