Do you have a favorite recreational activity? Does it involve equipment? Golf clubs? A tennis racket? A bicycle, perhaps? I’m a skier. Skiers are serious equipment geeks! But the phrase you hear around the lodge is: Good skis don’t make a good skier.

However, better skis can make you a better skier. In my experience, if you’re already pretty capable at something and working hard to improve, better equipment can really amp your game.

Same goes for those of us who are working to improve the designed energy efficiency of our buildings and spaces through the AIA 2030 Commitment. The 2030 Commitment – a great program brought to you by the American Institute of Architects – gives us tangible design performance goals to help bring our projects into line with the carbon emission reduction targets of the Architecture 2030 Challenge. To do this, the AIA has created some pretty good tools including a nifty, multi-tabbed reporting spreadsheet. It’s what we use to enter the designed energy use of all our year’s projects before we send it off to the AIA for their annual compilation.

It’s a good tool. But it may get infinitely better. Here’s the scoop:

This year, the AIA National Committee on the Environment (COTE) Advisory Group and an AIA 2030 Commitment Working Group has begun collaboration with the United States Department of Energy (DOE). The team hopes to develop an online reporting platform for the AIA 2030 Commitment for potential rollout in late 2014.

Think: What would make it easier for you to do drive energy efficient design in your practice? Would you like to be able to compare your projects’ performance to thousands of other buildings sorted by type, size, or location? How about being able access utility consumption data and track energy targets for your projects from design through occupancy over multiple years? How cool would that be?

These are aspirational goals for a better tool that could rock our world. But as my good friend and LEED Fellow from Chicago, Rand Ekman AIA, cautions: the development of this new tool is totally dependent on funding, time, and available data. And at the risk of sounding like an NPR pledge drive, you can bet that none of this will happen without your help.

March 31 is the 2014 AIA 2030 Commitment reporting deadline. When you file this year, here’s what you could do to help the AIA and DOE meet these goals:

First: Please send the AIA not just for your aggregated results, but the full spreadsheet that you create to support the reporting goals. You can scrub all project names to maintain confidentiality, just send the raw data.

Second: Please provide the AIA with additional data on SOME of your projects. The current reporting spreadsheet has tabs for “Detail Commercial” and “Detail Residential” data. Give this stuff a look. It’s optional for the Commitment and a fair amount of extra work, but if the DOE can collect this info on about 1,000 projects, it will help them connect the reporting tool with an important national database called the Building Energy Asset Score program.

That’s it. That’s the whole “ask”. Add a little more data to your AIA 2030 spreadsheet this year and maybe – just maybe – the AIA and DOE can deliver a sweet new tool for us to use next year. Like newly sharpened edges and fresh base wax on my boards, I can feel the performance enhancing effects already . . .

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

Published Mar 06, 2014