At 2019 AIA Conference, Members Push for Urgent Climate Action
Members of the American Institute of Architects overwhelmingly voiced their support for combatting climate change at its Conference on Architecture currently under way in Las Vegas. At the event’s business meeting on Wednesday, members passed a resolution calling for “urgent and sustained climate action.”
The measure, which passed with 4,860 delegates voting in favor and 312 against, pushes for the acceleration of efforts to reduce carbon emissions and calls for a transformation in day-to-practice so that architects can achieve a more resilient built environment. It builds upon a series of climate change initiatives. Some of the most recent include a January pledge by the board of directors and the executive team to focus more of the AIA’s resources and influence on the problem and a statement issued in February by the organization’s president, William Bates, backing the proposed Green New Deal. A group of more than 50 architects sponsored Wednesday’s resolution. “We felt that it was important to take the issue directly to the membership and demonstrate support in a way that was transparent and visible,” explains one sponsor, Marsha Maytum, a principal of San Francisco-based Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects and chair of the AIA Committee on the Environment (COTE).
Among the other business conducted on Wednesday was passage of an amendment to the institute’s bylaws that would allow it more financial flexibility. Also at the meeting, Bates announced that the organization is launching a comprehensive review of the process used to select its award recipients. A press release issued by the AIA said the intent “was to promote the highest professional standards among members and within the profession.”
To make climate resolution official AIA policy the board of directors must still approve the measure. Beyond that, much remains to be done, acknowledges Maytum. This work includes expanding the focus of carbon reduction beyond building operations to encompass embodied carbon; pushing for more stringent energy codes; and outreach to clients, policy makers, and the public. The vote is not an end in itself, says Maytum, but “a call to action.”