Where we stand: Architects respond to climate challenges

AIA urges policymakers to keep carbon neutral goals for built environment

For immediate release:

Washington, D.C. - April 17, 2017 - As the nation prepares to celebrate Earth Day, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) today issued eight principles governing how architects can mitigate climate change and urged the government to protect policies designed to conserve energy and reduce carbon in the built environment.

"Architecture and design can mitigate climate impact while simultaneously reducing operating costs for building owners," said AIA President Thomas Vonier, FAIA. "We need the federal government to keep and even expand incentives that are already producing major advances in energy efficient design and cutting the carbon footprint of buildings."

"These principles reinforce our strong national position on how energy-conscious urban planning and appropriate building design can help meet global climate challenges," Vonier noted. "In fact, the business case for meeting these challenges has never been greater."

Vonier said that the design and construction of sustainable and resilient buildings is already creating jobs and growing the American economy:

  • From 2011-2014, the green construction market generated more than $167 billion in GDP, supported over 2.1 million jobs and provided $148 billion in labor earnings. In 2015, over a quarter of a billion square feet of commercial property was designed to be net zero- projects, contributing nearly $150 billion to construction laborers’ pockets.
  • Employers from roughly 165,000 US companies doing energy efficiency work expect employment to grow 13 percent over the coming year, adding 245,000 more jobs. In Philadelphia alone, 77 percent of the city's buildings need energy retrofits, supporting the creation of 23,000 jobs.
  • Sustainable and energy efficient buildings and homes enhance the value of real estate assets, leading to more property tax revenue for local governments. Sustainable and energy efficient buildings command rent premiums of 2 percent to 8 percent, occupancy increases of 3 percent to 10 percent and sales premiums of 3 percent to 12 percent. High performance and sustainable homes in the Washington, DC market command sales premiums of 3.46 percent.

AIA's Energy Leadership Group recently issued a commentary that calls on the profession to mobilize against climate change and on the United States to honor its commitment to the Paris climate accord. That accord calls for substantive national and international climate change mitigation actions, most of them implicating the building sector.

"Today, more than half of the world population lives in urban areas, with cities generating more than 70 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, mostly from buildings," the commentary states. "By 2030, world population is expected to increase by 1.1 billion people, with all of that occurring in urban areas."  

About The American Institute of Architects

Founded in 1857, the American Institute of Architects consistently works to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings, neighborhoods, and communities. Through almost 300 state and local chapters, the AIA advocates for public policies that promote economic vitality and public well being. Members adhere to a code of ethics and conduct to ensure the highest professional standards. The AIA provides members with tools and resources to assist them in their careers and business as well as engaging civic and government leaders and the public to find solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit www.aia.org.


John Schneidawind
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