Advocacy Wins for AIA CA In 2022

(December 16, 2022) 2022 was a big year for the American Institute of Architects California, with significant victories for the profession in the advocacy arena. Below are the top six achievements accomplished through the efforts of AIA CA members and staff:

  1. 5 Hours of Zero Net Carbon Design (ZNCD) Continuing Education: In 2021, AIA CA sponsored legislation to require architects to complete five hours of continuing education every two years in Zero Net Carbon design in order to renew their license.

    California has, in recent years, taken several steps to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, and is in the process of considering additional steps, including improved codes and standards for buildings.  AIA California agrees that buildings codes and standards must continue to improve to reduce the impact buildings have on our environment.

    Improving the performance of buildings requires that architects – the designers of buildings – have the knowledge to design buildings according to changes to the building codes and standards and, importantly, how to design high-performing Zero Net Carbon buildings.

    As part of the negotiations for this proposal, AIA CA agreed to offer these courses free of charge to all architects in California for the first 2-year cycle. As a result of great staff work, this year AIA CA offered 17 ZNCD courses with an average attendance of 378 attendees, with the highest attendance reaching 489 attendees! Special thanks to Frank Bostrom, AIA, Bill Burke, AIA, Sarah Vasquez, AIA CA Climate Action Coordinator, and Rebekah Aceves, AIA CA Professional Practice Program Coordinator, for all of their efforts that led to these successes.

  2. Architects Intellectual Property Protected: In recent years more local planning departments have adopted the practice of posting architectural plans for proposed projects online to help the public access information and make informed comments. This practice, however, often violates the Copyright Act.  Architectural documents submitted to local planning departments includes information protected by the Copyright Act. Therefore, these architectural plans cannot be posted online, where they can be copied, without the permission of the architect.

    Cary Bernstein, AIA
    , an AIA San Francisco Member who sits on the AIA CA Board of Directors and the AIA CA Advocacy Advisory Committee, brought the need for SB 1214 to the attention of AIA California.  After Ms. Bernstein became aware that a planning department was posting her documents on a publicly accessible website, she proposed that AIA California sponsor legislation to help planning departments share information with their constituencies in a manner that does not violate the Copyright Act.  Ms. Bernstein’s colleagues on the Advocacy Advisory Committee and AIA California Board of Directors agreed.

    Ms. Bernstein, using her expert knowledge of architectural documents, and Attorney Steven Weinberg, with Holmes Weinberg PC, using his expert knowledge of the Copyright Act, worked with AIA California staff to draft the language that became SB 1214.

    SB 1214 allows architectural documents that express the scope of a project and do not contain information protected by the Copyright Act to be posted online by a planning department and copied.  These documents are Site Plans and Massing Diagrams, which SB 1214 defines.  Other architectural documents that contain protected information cannot be posted online or copied.  These protected documents can be viewed by the public at the planning department and, of course, distributed to local government staff, advisory boards, and other decision makers.

  3. 2022 CALGreen Check List: The California Green Building Standards Code—Part 11, Title 24, California Code of Regulations—known as CALGreen, is the mandatory green building standards code. AIA California updates and posts on its website, a set of CALGreen checklists (both residential and nonresidential) for members each renewal year. With the upcoming new full code cycle, the 2022 CALGreen code goes into effect January 1, 2023. The updated 2022 Residential and Non-Residential CALGreen checklists are now available on AIA CA’s website here. Feel free to use and edit as required for submittal to the jurisdiction having authority over your projects. Special thanks to the AIA CA Professional Practice Committee and VP Carina Mills, AIA, and Rebekah Aceves on our staff for taking the lead on this project.

  4. International Existing Building Code (IEBC) Implementation: The Office of the State Fire Marshall has accepted our proposal for the mid-cycle amendments to include IEBC (International Existing Building Code) as part of California’s building code. The IEBC is a tool architects can use on existing buildings , which directly supports our embodied carbon efforts. While this isn’t a done deal yet, but this was a big hurdle to get this option into the conversation and architects were not only ‘’at the table’’ but were leading the conversation! Special thanks to AIA CA Code Consultant, Michael Malinowski, FAIA, for leading these efforts and building effective coalitions and Sarah Vasquez, AIA CA Climate Action Coordinator, for providing support.

  5. AIA CA Defeats Problematic Proposed Regulation: AIA CA was successful in stopping an onerous proposed regulation that would have had many unintended consequences for licensed architects. At the December 9th CAB meeting, by a vote of six in favor, one opposed, and two abstentions, the Board voted to table the proposed regulations. That regulation was California Code of Regulation (CCR) 135, which in its most recent version proposed to require ”(a) As of July 1, 2023, an architect … include their name and license number in all forms of advertisement to the public in connection with an offer to provide architectural services for which a license is required by the Architects Practice Act, which shall include any writing, electronic device, card, letterhead, Internet Web site, social media profile, or contract proposal.”

    While AIA CA fully supports the primary purpose of CCR 135, to protect the public, the way this proposed regulation was written was of great concern to our membership for a number of reasons. Read more here.

  6. Improved and Formalized Relationship with the California Architect Board: This year the AIA CA Executive Committee met with the senior leadership of the California Architects Board to advance our shared goals and objectives. This resulted in a formalization of our relationship through a document signed by both CAB President Tian Feng, FAIA, and AIA CA President Rona Rothenberg, FAIA. We look forward to building on this positive relationship to advocate on behalf of our members.

As you can see, 2022 has been a year filled with wins for our organization. None of this would be possible without our members and our dedicated staff. We look forward to building on these successes in 2023 and continuing to amplify the voice of the architectural profession.

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