Architects Design For A Liveable Future

The AIA's program for sustainable architecture

One of the articles in We Can Do It! (IC#33)
Originally published in Fall 1992 on page 6
Copyright (c)1992, 1996 by Context Institute

Architects plan our cities, design our homes, and construct our workplaces. They interact with people who develop, build, supply materials for, and ultimately occupy those spaces. They are in a key position to build strategic alliances among groups that impact virtually everyone through the design, preservation, and restoration of the built environment.

Recognizing this, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) is promoting the message that environmentally sustainable design is vital to our society and the preservation of our planet. AIA’s Committee on the Environment endor-ses and encourages the development of environmentally sustainable architecture through a variety of efforts.

We previously reported (IC #31) on the AIA’s Environmental Resource Guide, a reference guide for design professionals. AIA is now developing a Building Owner’s Guide Toward Environmentally Sustainable Architecture to make the case that environmentally conscious design leads to safer, more productive and efficient interior environments. The booklet will help design firms to present environmental issues – air quality, waste management, energy, and economics – effectively to developers and other clients.

Preparations are now under way for the AIA annual convention, which is being held in June 1993 in conjunction with the Union of International Architects’ (UIA) World Congress. The theme of both events is sustainable communities, opening up exciting possibilities for international dialogue on the subject. According to the AIA’s plans for the conference, "Emphasis will be placed on a methodology to prompt direct action for clean air and water, healthy buildings and cities, preservation of na-tural resources, restoration of degraded landscapes, and biodiversity."

Three related and inter-related AIA programs are:

1) Video Teleconference Series: "Designing a Sustainable Future"

Three teleconferences to be held in early 1993 are intended to develop an awareness among design professionals about sustainability issues, to allow for networking within and outside the design and construction industry, and to provide practical tools for architects to incorporate sustainabilty into their work. Emphasizing successful case studies, an international faculty will be presenting topics including energy, building ecology, and land use and natural resources. The programs are designed to be highly interactive and encourage ongoing discussion.

2) "Call for Sustainable Community Solutions"

This international "ideas exploration" is soliciting sustainable, practical solutions to human settlement problems. Participants are encouraged to work as interdisciplinary teams and submit, in response to a defined issue or need, "a comprehensive solution, grounded in science, technology, economic viability, and cultural appropriateness."

Solutions should restore biodiversity, not cause damage during construction or use, derive energy from renewable resources, minimize waste, and have the potential to be recycled. An international panel of ten experts will select outstanding submissions for awards (totalling $50,000). Competition registration deadline is April 1, 1993.

3) Strategic Partnership for a Sustainable Future

According to the AIA’s Project Summary: "An interdisciplinary teamwork approach to solving our society’s problems is required … No longer can the individual disciplines work alone. No longer can a singular or compartmentalized approach toward design be effective."

To build these working partnerships, the AIA will convene "… a broad-based strategic alliance representing 1) the design and allied professions, 2) the construction industry, 3) the business community, 4) civic and governmental interests, and 5) members of the academic communities …" Using a consensus process, the group will develop a "Declaration of Interdependence," a roadmap toward global ecological responsibility and professional ethics and a "collective statement of philosophy on environmentally responsible human settlement issues … which can serve as collective expression of our desire to create a healthy planet for future generations."

For more information, contact: AIA, 1735 New York Ave NW, Washington, DC 20006-5292, 202/626-7300 or 800/365-ARCH.

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