From the President's Desk|

April 22, 2022 is Earth Day. In honor of Earth Day, 2022 AIA CA President shares an update of the latest AIA CA Climate Action efforts.

California architects, colleagues in engineering and our partners in state government have led the country for decades in sustainable practices, codes and regulations and thought expertise. The depth and impact of that effort continues to be realized in policy, legislation, and practice as well as with generous and meaningful advocacy and sustainable design resources produced by AIA California for our members, other professionals, and the public. Let’s look back and forward at a few of the many highlights of AIA California’s Climate Action programs.

With a long legacy of leadership in sustainability design practices and policy development, in July 2019, the AIA California Board of Directors met with professional leaders including Ed Mazria, FAIA for a summit on the climate crisis, voting unanimously to support adoption of a Zero Code. This was followed by swift adoption by the Board of Climate Action Strategic Goals and Objectives. In generous leadership William Leddy, FAIA was elected as our first Vice President for Climate Action, immediately undertaking work with many expert colleagues to quickly convene a robust Climate Action Committee and develop actionable advocacy, communications, and educational programs. Their work makes the business case for climate action.

In less than three years, 60-100 AIA CA Board Members and our colleagues – too many to name but notably with Sharon Refvem, FAIA LEED Fellow, Henry Siegel, FAIA, Frank Bostrom, AIA, Larry Strain, FAIA, and Tian Feng, FAIA, CAB Board President, and countless others – have worked successfully to achieve a great deal in a short time.  Among their many contributions and accomplishments: 

  • Passage with support from the California Architects Board of AB1010, requiring 5 hours of Zero Net Carbon Design Education as a condition of license renewal starting January 1, 2023 and registration by over 800 participants in the first seminar.
  • Engagement with California local governments on development of all-electric ordinances and gas moratoria resulting in adoption in over 60 jurisdictions in the last two and half years.
  • Work with the California Energy Commission and California Building Standards Commission and the Division of the State Architect on future potential adoption of Zero Code provisions in CalGreen and other updates addressing low carbon and sustainable design.
  • Development of over 50 climate action webinars with participation by over 10,000 attendees to date and associated work with California State government agencies.
  • And, in 2021, the AIA CA Board of Directors moved to declare a climate emergency.

Many other concurrent efforts are proceeding, such as work by AIA CA Past President and special legislative and technical consultant Michael Malinowski, FAIA. He is leading important work with the Office of the State Fire Marshal and many partners in state and local agencies to facilitate adoption in California building codes paths to environmentally resilient repurposing of existing buildings. This ongoing effort involves the value of achieving immeasurable long-term environmental, economic, and social benefits for housing, commercial and institutional sectors of bringing to California the full range of alternative compliance paths from the IEBC including the work area and performance methods. This will support California architects in developing affordable and sustainable solutions for adaptive reuse of the enormous stock of existing buildings which cannot take advantage of our California Historic Building Code. If adopted these types of amendments have tremendous merit and potential to both public and private sector owners. The value of adaptive reuse and extending the life of existing buildings environmentally as well as functionally as opposed to demolition and replacement support decarbonization and energy conservation imperatives while providing much-needed new space for specific purposes, such as affordable housing. The merits of having access to these now unavailable methods are obvious.

AIA California’s strategic commitment to active and urgent climate action efforts continues with all your support. This substantial work merits ongoing recognition and thanks to those leading it and to all participating across disciplines and backgrounds. Bravo and deep thanks to all for past and continuing work. Please join us!

AIA California
AIA California
AIA California is dedicated to serving its members, and uniting all architecture professionals in the design of a more just, equitable and resilient future through advocacy, education and political action. It celebrates more than 75 years of service and, today, is composed of more than 11,000 members across the state.

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