From the President's Desk, Relevance|

By: Debra Gerod, FAIA

As 2020 rolls into full swing this late winter, I wanted to send all of you a message—an introduction, a status report, an update, and a call to action.  My name is Debra Gerod, FAIA, and I am a partner at Gruen Associates  in Los Angeles where I specialize in the collaborative delivery of large, complex, public-use projects.  I am honored to lead this organization at a time when our profession is undergoing some urgent and profound changes.

As many of our members are already aware, in 2019, the AIA, and architects within the AIA, have come together to tackle the issue of climate change. The role that architects should have in stopping and even reversing the impacts of the built environment on our warming planet is evident, and now officially recognized by our association.  This awareness and focus was further solidified within AIA California, where we developed a long-range plan centered on this topic.  Furthermore, at the end of 2019, the AIA CA Board agreed that the work of our organization in the foreseeable future would be based on helping move our organization to be leaders in the effort to address climate change and to help educate our members on what they need to know in order to make that move

Now that 2020 is here, leaving us with only a decade until 2030 when the planet warming will be irreversible if we do not take profound measures to prevent it, AIA California will have a fairly singular focus on matters related to climate action.  Within this focus will be issues of resiliency including those related to housing.  The California Committee on the Environment (CA COTE) will be integrated into all of our committees and programs to help guide us as we work on climate-related advocacy, communications, and education.  But climate action must come from all of us, not only a steering committee dedicated to the global challenge. We cannot have progressive, climate-centric designs be the work of a small component of our profession. Therefore, the AIA CA is getting involved in discussions with agencies like the California Energy Commission (CEC) to support efforts. Efforts such as creating building codes that require less energy and carbon usage so that these progressive approaches can be adopted throughout our profession.  We are working to unify the way that project and building metrics are discussed so that we are all talking about and comparing things in a consistent manner. An excellent example of this is the Design Data Exchange (DDx) information that is a part of the 2030 commitment reporting. Another is the Common App which will be used for national, state, and many local AIA award submissions.  And AIA CA has embarked on a new education series, Climate Action Webinars, free to all members.

The education will be accomplished in several different manners starting out with a new, monthly, online Climate Action Webinar series presented free to all members.   Members can also earn 1 CEU (HSW) for each if they register and sign in.  In January, AIA CA introduced the first webinar in the series, “Now Boarding for 2019: Get Ready to Take Off with the New Energy Code,” focused on the changes to the residential energy code that became effective in January 2020, sponsored by Energy Code ACE.  The next in the series, “Design for Water,” went live February 26, and can be viewed here.  All webinars are recorded and will be available on our website following the live presentation.

It is paramount to note that none of us can do this alone.  It takes all of us working together to make the changes necessary.  It takes all of us working collaboratively with our engineers, specialty consultants, and clients to positively change not only the built environment but how people engage with it.

We welcome all members to engage with us in these efforts.  Please contact me through email or add your comments below. I look forward to serving for and with you.  It’s going to take our entire profession, to build our Climate Sensitive future. Who’s on board?

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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