AIACC Energy Policy Ready for Review

in: AIACC / 15 Comments
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Architects are key players in helping California reach its energy goals. The AIACC has committed resources to the energy issue as one of its primary “Strategic Initiatives” for 2013. From focusing on programs and opportunities to enhancing the skills, abilities, and attitudes of design professionals to engaging in legislative and regulatory advocacy efforts, to research initiatives, the AIACC is committed to this proactive effort. One of those efforts included the development of a public policy on the architect’s role in the energy issue.
The key elements of the policy include:

  • A commitment to helping California achieve the goals set out in AB32
  • An endorsement of the CPUC Strategic Plan
  • Specific strategies to help the profession meet the 2020 and 2030 ZNE goals through education
    research, and collaboration with stakeholders

This policy will be used to direct specific activities for the AIACC to help the profession meet the states Zero Net Energy (ZNE) goals.
The policy is now available online and open for a 30-day comment period. The comments will be reviewed by the AIACC Energy and the Built-Environment Steering Committee and a second draft will be presented to the Board for review and decision during the November 2013 Board of Directors meeting in Los Angeles.

Background: To meet the state’s ambitious energy reduction goals, (outlined in AB 32) California has committed to a strategic plan that fundamentally focuses on market transformation to attain zero net energy for residential and non-residential structures. This transformation will change the profession in significant ways and will cause the AIACC to identify a new agenda for better supporting professionals as they address the critical issues of climate change and energy in California.

With the tipping point of carbon emissions into the atmosphere recently surpassed, the California Energy Commission, California Public Utilities Commission, and Investor Owned Utility’s, have reached out to architects through the AIACC to help in the energy challenge. This year, the AIACC has called upon members who are recognized leaders in energy efficient buildings and sustainability to discuss and suggest steps in an energy initiative in order to assist the State of California’s 2020, 2030, and Zero Net Energy efforts and to prepare our members to meet the energy building code updates coming with the 2013, 2016, and 2019 code cycles.

The Steering Committee met and, the group determined that an AIACC energy/sustainability policy should be re-established to support members before the Legislature, CEC, CPUC, utility companies, and the public. The policy, “Principles for Advocating Energy, Water, and Resource Efficient Design”, was presented to the AIACC Board of Directors on July 26, 2013 for review and comment. The next step is to solicit comments from AIA components and members.
Click here to view the policy, upon reviewing the policy please leave your comments below.


Linda Derivi

A UC Berkeley graduate, she is President of the multi-discipline design firm Derivi Construction & Architecture, Inc., which she co-founded in 1979, based in Stockton, CA. She holds licenses as a contractor and as an architect, as well as being a certified interior designer. Recently appointed AIACC Director of Design & Practice, she brings with her not only a broad knowledge of practice issues, but also a great deal of energy and dedication to her work.

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  1. avatar
    Britt Lindberg

    I very much support the AIACC for taking the lead on preparing this energy policy. Though I am not as informed on these issues as others, I would offer two comments:

    One is to wish that our three-tiered organization could better unite in one voice, for representation of our profession. This may not be appropriate for the first version of this energy policy, but it would be wonderful if in the future the policy could be written through the voice of ‘the AIA’ (and all of its chapters and components), and not just the ‘AIACC’.

    The other is in response to the ”Supports and incentivizes the development and implementation of education and training
    programs which prepare architects…’ language in Principle 2. While it is extremely important for any architect to remain current on modern energy-saving materials, systems, and technologies, I would hope that the ‘supports and incentives’ would not become tied to any mandated continuing education requirements. Please keep any ‘supports and incentives’ voluntary, in recognition that as architects, we must all continuously educate ourselves on a wide variety of topics, in order to remain competitive with our peers, and provide our clients with the professional service they expect.

  2. avatar
    Linda Derivi, AIA

    The AIACC Energy and the Built-Environment Steering Committee would like to revise the very last paragraph of the proposed energy policy to the following:

    The AIACC recognizes, promotes, and honors the design of energy efficient buildings as an integral part of successful architectural design and practice, through its awards and recognition programs, all of which value the strategies and metrics for energy, water, and resource efficiency as important as the balance of functionality and form.

    Members of the AIACC EBES Committee include: Bill Leddy, FAIA; Henry Siegel, FAIA; Charles Eley, FAIA; Bill Worthen, FAIA; Stephan Castellanos, FAIA; Lynn Simon, FAIA; Bill Burke, AIA; Diane McLean, AIA; Stuart Magruder, AIA; Bill Melby, AIA; Paul Welschmeyer, AIA; David Kaneda, AIA, and Brad Jacobson, AIA.

    Ex Officio members: Frank Bostrom, AIACC 2013 President; Brian Dougherty, FAIA, AIACC 2013 First Vice President; Don Rudy, AIACC Vice President for Professional Practice.

    AIACC Staff members: Paul Welch, Hon. AIA; Nicki Dennis Stephens, Hon. AIACC; Kurt Cooknick, Assoc. AIA, and Linda Derivi, AIA.

  3. avatar
    Judith Wasserman

    I wish I knew what net-zero really means. It’s one thing to cut down on the energy use of a building; we have been trying to do that for years and are getting better at it. However, unless the renewable energy sources are more available, we will not be able to zero them out.
    Unless you give up your iPhone, you are not energy-free. The energy has to come from somewhere. Houses surrounded by trees cannot make solar power, wind is not practical for houses either, and unless you live on top of a hot spring, neither is geothermal.
    Now what?

  4. avatar
    John Britton AIA/CEA

    Linda, et al:
    I’d like to comment on this Policy Statement in detail as an architect and energy analyst that has been involved in the derivation of AIA/CC Energy Policy since the first efforts in 1976.
    Having participated in the arc of the development and implementation of the CA Energy Standards over the last 37 years, my perspective may be unique.
    In the mid-1980’s through the early 1990’s I was the AIA/CC representative to the Energy Commission on residential matters and attended/chaired many meetings wearing my AIA hat. On the non-residential side, I believe Charles Eley FAIA was speaking for the AIA/CC. In those days, architects were deeply involved. Now, as I am preparing for the implementation of the 2013 CA Energy Standards … this is not the case.
    I would encourage you to call me directly.
    – John Britton AIA/Certified Energy Analyst
    Berkeley Energy Compliance

  5. avatar
    jim heimler

    Do you think CALGreen Tier 1 provisions are, from a practical perspective, difficult to achieve? I would not call it difficult. Each new item adds cost and time into the equation of building. Rents go up. Homes and other buildings cost more. Utility costs go down if used appropriately. The environment (our future gets better). We as humans and the living organisms on the planet are not as affected by our actions. What problems would standard builders have to meet Tier 1—and what would help them to build to Tier 1 standards? Consistency in rules. True cataloging of all construction issues. No green washing. Designs that are better than the average. better trained proffessional and trades people. Having a known direction for the future. Also wondering how much cost Tier 1 adds to a project. I have not costed that out. It is not a independent issues. Adding any new requirements might be able to balance out with another. We require more so then the new building can be just that much smaller and the plans designed that much more efficient in use of space. You can even have a dual use for a building day and night. So the thinking is much more integrated into society than just requiring more checks and balances. And how to quantify or represent the extra cost based on sq. ft. basis / typology (less than /more than 50,000 sf office building, mixed use residential, etc.) – would that be very unique and project-to-project? A tight building in southern California goes against my personal efforts to have a home or office with natural ventilation. By keeping windows open that defeats the tight envelope design concepts and costs a lot of money to install and maintain. the use of each building and the way people live in them might affect energy usage even more than many of the issues in CAL Green. We still need to plan for all options, but that has a self defeating premise also. To me each project can be put into a matrix of intension, use, comparisons to similar development projects, etc, categorized in a simple chart, refined based on the age and scale of an existing building change or a new project and then set some basic requirements tuned for the project specific. Thank you for being on the call tonight. I like to keep a more integrated approach to development. What we are doing as a group is important, but I feel we are not always discussing the issues that will get us the furthest for our efforts. There are a lot of groups today pushing the efforts of energy efficiency.

  6. avatar
    jim heimler

    My comment would add:

    That the scale of a building in relation to its inhabitants should be a consideration in all enforcement oversight. The smaller a project in relation to its habitants would receive a certain kind of credit in relation to a larger project based on cost and area. this allows the biggest projects to have the greatest impact and the small projects not to be heavily burdened by new oversight regulations. All projects must have a minimum sustainable rating! Big developers should not get exemptions that a small project can not get!!
    Buying other entities carbon offset points helps for now but does not change the habits of those buying them. Therefore all carbon offset buy downs not part of a specific community or project should be zeroed out at some date in the near future.

  7. avatar
    Betsey Olenick Dougherty

    Thank you for your efforts and for that of AIACC to develop a policy to address the subject of sustainability and building performance. It looks like the subject of financial incentive programs is implied but not stated. Is that not appropriate? Our public clients are interested and motivated if their budgets can be enhanced to support high-performance strategies and ongoing operational expenses. Examples are out there, like Savings By Design and CCC/IOU. In my opinion, we should directly mention the development of these strategic partnerships and financial incentive programs that encourage owner participation.

  8. avatar
    franz steiner

    Without commenting on the legislation at hand, I only wish to point out that sometimes legislation can outpace technology and the marketplace. Architects often take some risk (with our insurance companies) when specifying new products and technologies. While there are ways to prevent this, most of us don’t take the time to incorporate the safeguards and most of us don’t employ attorneys to review the contract documents for potential issues. So take care!

    On the other hand, energy efficiency has been our goal for many decades and while the progress has been gratifying the potential clients are few. Unfortunately, those missing clients represent over 80% of the built environment. We do it because we think its important and because we subscribe to a higher motive.

  9. avatar
    Linda Derivi, AIA

    AB 834 was a typo and has been corrected. Thank you for bringing it to our attention. The AIACC actually opposed AB 834, and the reference in the introduction to the draft AIACC energy policy was supposed to be AB 32. The policy itself references AB 32, not AB 834. Please see our post on our opposition to AB 834:

  10. avatar
    Robert I. Schwartz AIA

    A careful reading of AB834 shows that it has precious little logical connection to the AIACC’s stated energy-efficiency goals. It is also unenforceable as a practical matter because the applicable reference standards are not entirely objective. Within the network of building professionals that are typically engaged in any given building project; against whom would this entirely punitive measure apply?

    The administrative cost to the State of prosecuting an alleged infraction would certainly exceed the $2,500 maximum amount of the penalty.

    As a practical matter, each building and its microclimate is unique, so any attempt to apply a single net-zero energy standard to design is certainly inappropriate, and a reflection of witless sledgehammer legislation.

    However well-intentioned; AB834 is a reflection of California’s penchant for regulatory overkill. It is clearly a misguided attempt to apply negative penalties to a subject where industry compliance would be much more responsive to the establishment of clearly-written codes and positive economic incentives for energy efficient building design.

    The AIACC should immediately withdraw all support for this legislative abomination.

  11. avatar
    Tim Kohut

    As we move past understanding the implications of the 2013 Energy Code, our industry will need to focus on the 2017 code – and the move closer to Zero Net Energy (ZNE). To date, the CEC has not adopted a definition of ZNE and this is critical. California is first state (or country) to codify ZNE and it is important to make sure that what we define is understandable, easy to replicate (in other cities and other countries), and does not create a cause for conflict between those who support the move to ZNE and those who do not.

    Ed Mazria, Founder and CEO of Architecture 2030, stated at the 2030 District Summit in Pittsburgh (August 12-13, 2013) that “the whole world is watching California. They must succeed, or God help us”. Ed specifically mentioned the definition of ZNE as something that we need to pin down. In a presentation to the CEC on July 18, 2013, Ed Mazria and Architecture 2030 presented the following definition, which I believe the AIA/CC should adopt in this document:

    “Zero Net Energy – a newly constructed building that meets California Proposed Definition for Zero Net Energy
    Building Energy Efficiency Standards, and the value of on-site, or off-site, renewable energy equals the value of the energy consumed by the building annually.”

    Tim Kohut, AIA

  12. avatar
    Howard Schuss

    In California our industry is over regulated. We are slowly coming out of a industry wide DEPRESSION. Now add in these new energy regulations and we will be back in a depression once again. I believe that it is a underlining goal of the state to slow construction through excessive regulation and has been for many years.

    I understand that new energy standards will be required. However this law is too much too soon and too costly. The laws regulation construction in California are so complex that city planning departments throughout the state cannot correctly implement what is already on the books nor do planners fully understand the complicated procedures now in place. It takes years for projects to be approved. This new energy law will only add to the mayhem.

  13. avatar
    John Kelley

    I support these policy goals.

  14. avatar
    Laurie Barlow, AIA

    Principle 2: You need to emphasize the Precautionary Principle as an integrated way of evaluating the risks of any strategy

  15. avatar
    Aaron Baumbach

    As a member of the AIA CC Board, I’m happy that this issue is being addressed by the Council. By seeing that we are both a part of the problem and problem-solvers, we are embracing another role of architects: arbiters of change. Thank you all for working so hard on this.

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