A delegation representing New York’s AIA chapters met with the office of Senator Chuck Schumer, who was a guest at AIANY’s Heritage Ball in October 2014.

Advocacy in Action: Building a Case for Energy Efficient Buildings

AIA members across the country are urging their Senators to oppose the proposal to repeal the Federal 2030 targets in the upcoming energy-efficiency package that the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources is assembling. Repealing energy-saving targets for federal buildings would set back ongoing efforts to save energy and reduce carbon emissions while also saving taxpayer money.

Section 433 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 establishes targets for reducing fossil fuel-generated energy in newly constructed and majorly renovated federal buildings. The current proposal in the Senate would repeal Section 433 and extend weaker energy efficiency targets that do not address buildings as a significant source of carbon pollution.

As part of this effort, a delegation representing AIANY, AIA Brooklyn, AIA Queens, AIA New York State, and AIA National met with Nick Martin, director of Policy and Economic Development for Senator Chuck Schumer, on 07.15.15 at the Senator’s NYC office. After receiving confirmation that Senator Schumer will not support this bill, we were able to speak candidly about the importance of this legislation and others related to energy efficiency in the built environment. The bill in question was initially intended as an amendment to a previous energy efficiency package. It has since been re-introduced as a standalone bill without sufficient support in the Senate.

Section 433 is not stringent enough, but in order to make progress on this front, we cannot lose it. The Federal Government can do more to influence the industry to build more efficiently through incentives and policy. AIANY and other AIA chapters will continue to schedule meetings with Senators and Representatives in the House, where this bill and others like it have a better chance of passing.

Pulse Points

  • This week, the Senate Finance Committee is debating legislation that would renew several tax provisions which expired at the end of 2014. The Energy Efficient Commercial Building Tax Deduction is critical to the design and construction industry, and should be updated and included in this bill. 179D allows building owners to claim a tax deduction up to $1.80 per-square-foot of building area to install systems that reduce total energy costs. Contact your Senator and urge them to support extending this tax incentive as a way of creating jobs and promoting energy-efficient design.
  • As part of its effort to reduce carbon emissions 80% by 2050, the de Blasio Administration launched a Request for Information to identify new renewable energy generation capacity. The city hopes to power 100% of city government operations through renewable energy sources.
  • On 07.13.15, the de Blasio Administration announced that 20,325 affordable apartments and homes, enough to house 50,000 New Yorkers, were financed in the last fiscal year.
  • The Public Design Commission of the City of New York held its 33rd annual Awards for Excellence in Design reception at the Whitney Museum of American Art on 7.14.15. The winning projects, selected from the hundreds of submissions reviewed by the Commission the previous year, exemplify the city’s highest design standards. NYC Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen addressed the crowd, emphasizing the importance of design equity in NYC.
  • AIANY, along with the other four NYC AIA chapters, is seeking architects who have recently completed (or are about to permit) housing projects that would be subject to the NYC Department of City Planning’s Zoning for Quality and Affordability. Those architects would produce images to show a project under the proposed zoning, taking advantage of height bonuses, new set-back rules, etc. This is intended to help design professionals, community boards, civic groups, and the general public understand the benefits of the proposal in the hopes of gaining their support. For more information about this project and how to get involved, please contact Emma Pattiz, AIANY Policy Coordinator.
  • The NYC Department of Buildings released an Industry Code of Conduct, an attempt to outline ethical standards for stakeholders who conduct business with DOB, including architects. The document defines the disciplinary actions that can be taken against industry members who violate the standards.
  • 2015 is the AIA’s Year of the Advocate, the start to a multi-year strategy to build the AIA’s ability to influence policymakers. By empowering members to advocate for their profession, the AIA can be a powerful force in Washington, state capitols, and city halls. Join the AIA Advocacy Network here and advocate for the issues that most inspire you.
  • The New York Building Foundation and the New York Building Congress Task Force on Innovation and Best Practices announced a call for designers to develop an alternative construction shed concept that could be used at construction sites in NYC. Learn more about the competition here.

Emma Pattiz is the AIANY Policy Coordinator. For more information on AIANY policy initiatives and programs, please contact her at epattiz@aiany.org.