While officially neutral on green-building rating systems, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) recently parsed three of them in an effort to evaluate how well they align with the association’s sustainability goals. In its report, which was released in May, it carefully avoided picking a favorite of the three systems: t he U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED NC 2.2, the Green Building Initiative’s Green Globes, and The International Initiative for a Sustainable Environment’s SBTool 07. The intent of the study was simply to assess their strengths and weaknesses, says Jessyca Henderson, an AIA staff architect. “The AIA is neutral,” she explains, “and therefore can leverage some credibility to a critique .”
The association has long promoted sustainable design, primarily through its 7,200-member Committee on the Environment (COTE), whose roots can be traced back to the 1970s. In recent years, the AIA has honed in on carbon emissions, urging reduction strategies that would lead to carbon neutrality in buildings by 2030. Three years ago, it put forth specific criteria that emphasized third-party verification, lifecycle analysis, strict land-use requirements, clear goal-setting, and post-occupancy assessments, among other things. Henderson says their overall agenda is to raise both the lowest common denominator and the gold standard among green building schemes.