The AIA 2030 Commitment: A New Year’s Revolution

December 29, 2014

Here it comes again. New Year’s Day. Time to press the reset button and set noble and ambitious goals for 2015.

What are yours? Lose weight. Get organized. Save money. Quit smoking. All good, but all self-oriented. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. The desire to improve one’s self and bring a certain calendrically-enhanced discipline to the pursuit is great. But have you ever made a New Year’s resolution to try to improve something outside yourself? To put a little of your considerable personal effort into serving a greater human good?

I’d call a goal like that a New Year’s revolution.

Are you tired of hearing people say that we don’t care enough about climate change to do anything? Or that individual effort won’t amount to much? How about New Year’s revolution to help fight climate change? Websites like “10 ways you can stop climate change” are packed with tips. Drive less. Eat mostly plants. Recycle stuff. Turn lights off when you leave a room. Unplug your computer – but not until you’re finished reading this blog post, of course.

Although many people need a website to provide them with earth-saving ideas, you’re different. You’re a design professional. You’re working to create buildings and spaces that contribute to a healthy, regenerative ecosystem.

So here are five things that you can do in 2015 that are unique to your profession, uniquely suited to architects and designers:

1. Pick one useful, relevant energy-efficiency technology and pledge to learn everything you can about it. For example: By March 2014, you could be the office expert in solid state lighting, organic light–emitting diodes and light–emitting polymers. By June, you could write something post-able on the subject. Your goal could be to use organic LEDs in a project by the end of 2015.

2. Take an MEP engineer out to lunch. A good one that you can learn something from. Better yet, invite them for an in-house lunch-and-learn. Do this several times in 2015. Turn it into a guest-lecture series on topics of their choice. Direct digital control systems. Heat recovery systems. Absorption chillers. Cogeneration. By the end of the year, you’ll be thinking like an engineer and your projects will be better for it.

3. Join the movement to promote transparency in building materials content. Greenhouse gasses aren’t the only thing impacting our ecosystem. How about bioacculumative toxins and carcinogens linked to (among other things) building material manufacturing and disposal? Start here, with the AIA Materials Matter website and this organization: the Health Product Declaration (HPD) Collaborative. (Now how about the conductive polymers and phosphates in those LED lamps, hmm? Who’s researching that?)

4. Promote gender equity in architecture. And this is related to climate change how? In a larger, societal sense, gender equity is part of triple-bottom-line sustainability. Within the practice of architecture, women do not share access to the privileges and benefits of the profession equally with men. Don’t believe me? Check out the Missing 32% Project. I say: no sustainability without gender equity. Spread the word.

5. Get your firm to sign the AIA 2030 Commitment. This is the best choice, hands down, end of story. Join the 99 other AIA firms that reported on 1.6 billion gross square feet of space in 2,462 projects in 2013 at an average designed energy use intensity of 34% better than baseline energy code. Share your findings with your colleagues. Be part of shaping the entire practice.

Cheers. Here’s to a revolutionary year!


This post originally appeared on the blog of Principal Mike Davis, FAIA