News Brief

Future Climate and Professional Liability: AIA Weighs In

Not accounting for future climate in your designs? Legal troubles may await you, says the American Institute of Architects.

graphic showing the standard of care and its relation to legal liability

Many factors contribute to the standard of care, which can determine legal liability in court.

Image: American Institute of Architects
Resilient design is no longer optional. If you aren’t accounting for future climate changes and extreme weather events in your designs, you could be held professionally liable in the future, according to The American Institute of Architects (AIA).

A new report released by the Scalable Climate Action Group within the institute’s Strategic Council looks at levers of change that can potentially bring about widespread climate-change actions. These levers include climate literacy; environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investments; and policy changes. Also on the list is professional liability associated with neglecting climate concerns during design.

“The omission of climate risk in prevailing practices, and the omission of explicit standards for climate risk in extant laws and regulations, are relevant to, but not dispositive of, the legal responsibility for harm that may result from failure to act reasonably in the face of ascertainable climate risk,” warns the report. In other words, even though use of future climate modeling is not yet standardized in codes, architects currently have sufficient knowledge and access to tools to reasonably anticipate climate impacts. Hence, they may in the future be held to a heightened standard of care when it comes to health and safety associated with climate change.

“Professional liability is one of those levers of change,” according to AIA. “It can help drive architects to address future climate and hazards in our design work because of potential accountability for a changing climate.”

More on designing for the future

The Future of Designing with Future Weather Data

Stop Designing for the Past: Your Future Could Depend on It

For more information:

The American Institute of Architects

Published March 7, 2022

Melton, P. (2022, February 24). Future Climate and Professional Liability: AIA Weighs In. Retrieved from

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