AIA urges members to make architects’ voices heard on Election Day
The voice of AIA’s 94,000+ architect members is crucial in accomplishing AIA’s legislative goals year after year, and today on Election Day, AIA urges our members to make that voice heard and vote in the midterm elections for the candidates that best reflect their values.
One of AIA's key goals is to continue to be an effective voice for the profession on Capitol Hill. In 2022, AIA member testimony and an active presence in congressional offices moved the needle on issues critical to the profession.
Mike Davis, FAIA, principal at Bergmeyer and chair of AIA’s Government Advocacy Committee (GAC), believes that architects, and specifically AIA members, have an incredibly valuable voice in ensuring that AIA’s policy goals are met in Congress.
“The construction industry is a $1.9 trillion piece of the United States economy and architects are its thought-leaders. We know what is possible, we make connections happen, we can tell elected officials about the relationship between buildings and climate change; we can talk with them about how design thinking and planning can make our communities more equitable and resilient,” said Davis.
“The construction industry is a $1.9 trillion piece of the United States economy and architects are its thought-leaders. We know what is possible, we make connections happen, we can tell elected officials about the relationship between buildings and climate change; we can talk with them about how design thinking and planning can make our communities more equitable and resilient.” - Mike Davis, FAIA, principal at Bergmeyer and chair of AIA’s Government Advocacy Committee (GAC)
Many of the bills passed by the 117th Congress can be seen as AIA wins.
Particularly, the Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act (IIJA), also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework, passed in late 2021, and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) passed in August are both major AIA advocacy successes.
The IIJA—which included $1.2 trillion in total funding over FY22-26 – included $2 billion for FEMA’s Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) Program, $500 million for energy—efficiency upgrades to public schools, and $225 million to incent cost-effective building codes implementation. According to Davis, the IRA was an even bigger win for AIA’s legislative agenda.
Called “The largest climate investment in US history” by Davis, the IRA has been predicted to further cut greenhouse gas emissions in US by 40% in 2030 compared to the 2005 baseline.
The IRA includes another $330 million in grants to states and local governments to adopt the latest energy codes that meet or exceed the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and/or ASHRAE 90.1-2019 and an additional $670 million to adopt and implement zero-energy stretch (locally mandated codes or alternative compliance paths that are more aggressive than the base code), resulting in buildings that achieve higher energy savings codes: a top AIA priority for 2022.
It also includes roughly $8.5 billion in rebates for energy-efficient homes, important improvements to the now-codified Chapter 179D energy-efficient commercial building tax deduction, $2.6 billion in NOAA grants to fund climate resilience measures for coastal communities, and $3 billion to the EPA to create an “environmental and climate justice block grants” program that would benefit disadvantaged communities.
“As these bills were being debated, all of these provisions were being negotiated. The fact that AIA was at the table is why many of these provisions made the cut,” said Davis.
While AIA certainly has legislative goals for the upcoming year, Davis reiterated that it’s hard to quantify exactly what can be accomplished until we know the results of the midterm elections..
“Important funding provisions of the IIJA and IRA will be in their implementation stages in 2023. After Congress allocates funding to federal agencies, there’s a long implementation period in which agencies must create actionable programs with the money allocated,” he said. “It’s clear that many of the most important programs will be in the form of competitive grants, so once programs are ready to go, it will be on AIA to alert components and membership when a funding pool becomes available.”
Davis said the GAC will be “paying close attention” to this and he will focus on “alerting small practitioners about the many upcoming new and re-funded rebates for energy efficiency improvements to single-family homes once they are available.”
Further information about AIA’s upcoming legislative goals will be outlined in a future edition of AIA Architect.
Ultimately, Davis believes it’s important that AIA members get out today and vote to ensure the interests of architects are protected and amplified.
“[Architects are] effective spokespeople for the public good,” said Davis. “This makes us valuable resources and trusted advisors for people in very important positions. What’s not to love about that?”