AIA meets with EPA Administrator Pruitt; makes case for sustainable design programs

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) this week became one of the first design and construction organizations in the nation’s capital to meet one-on-one with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt - in part through a cooperative effort between the AIA’s advocacy team and the AIA Committee on the Environment (COTE).

The meeting followed a letter sent to Pruitt in March and signed by almost 800 architecture firms across the country, highlighting the importance of EPA’s work to the design industry. The letter garnered signatures from sole practitioners as well as some of the largest international firms. Our goal was to leave Pruitt with an appreciation for the economic power of our profession and a renewed respect for architects who advocate for their values.

The meeting on Tuesday, May 16, included AIA CEO Robert Ivy, FAIA, AIA Strategic Council representative Jon Penndorf and the AIA Federal Relations team. During the meeting, the AIA team explained the importance to the design industry of various EPA programs. These include the tools and resources provided by Energy Star, the materials transparency data housed in the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Chemical Substance Inventory and the research conducted by the Indoor Air Quality program - all of which have concrete benefits for the practice of architecture. Throughout this discussion, AIA laid out the economic case for EPA to continue its support for these important resources.

Administrator Pruitt actively participated and was overall very responsive to the concerns we raised. He offered the Administration’s rationale for considering whether to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, but in the context of perceived legal constraints on his agency’s regulatory authority to implement the treaty. However, he acknowledged the need for continued American leadership in emissions reductions.

We believe this meeting opened a door for establishing future, respectful dialogue between AIA and Administrator Pruitt and his staff on any one of a number of issues affecting the design and construction industry.

Ian McTiernan is AIA manager of federal relations.  

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