News Brief

AIA Declares Climate Emergency in Historic Resolution

The resolution calls for big changes in how AIA and its members will approach the climate crisis.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has adopted the AIA Resolution for Urgent and Sustained Climate Action. The historic resolution passed 4,860 to 312 at the 2019 AIA National Convention in Las Vegas.

AIA vote on climate resolution

The historic resolution passed in a landslide.

Photo: Nadav Malin
“Be it resolved that, commencing in 2019 and continuing until zero-net carbon practice is the accepted standard of its members, the AIA prioritize and support urgent climate action as a health, safety, and welfare issue, to exponentially accelerate the ‘decarbonization’ of buildings, the building sector, and the built environment,” reads the resolution. It also calls for the organization to engage members, clients, policymakers, other professional organizations, and the public through “a multi-year strategy for education, practice, advocacy, and outreach.”

“We echo our members’ commitment to fight climate change,” said Robert Ivy, FAIA, executive vice president and CEO of AIA, in a statement to BuildingGreen. He added, “We look forward to working with our members to advance this resolution and these principles.”

The resolution additionally calls for AIA to “adopt and implement the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Codes and Standards [titled Disruption, Evolution, and Change] and the Sustainability Leadership Group.” Some of these recommendations:

  • Encourage members to adopt the Top Ten Measures from the Committee on the Environment.
  • Establish high-performance codes as standard practice.
  • Develop a more holistic definition of health, safety, and welfare (HSW) to include sustainability and resilience.
  • Commit to responsibility for existing building stock.
  • Transition to outcome-based building codes and standards.

“Between the launch of the Blue Ribbon panel and almost universal support for the resolution, we have two really, really foundational actions saying it is an urgent and profound realignment of the basic responsibilities we have as architects,” said Carl Elefante, FAIA, one of the lead advocates for the climate resolution. Add to that the recent sustainability-related changes to the AIA Code of Ethics, he said, and “it’s pretty amazing” how profound a change this represents.

Published June 13, 2019

Add new comment

To post a comment, you need to register for a BuildingGreen Basic membership (free) or login to your existing profile.