Clark D. Manus, FAIA, President
Ron Solomon Copyright Clark D. Manus, FAIA, President

One of the first lessons you learn in high school geometry is that parallel lines do not meet. The rest of life is a record of many exceptions.

Take the main feature of this issue of AIArchitect—the emergence of an International Green Construction Code (IGCC). Once the code is published in 2012 and begins to be adopted, it’s going to be a game changer. It will affect how architects think about design and how we practice. It will likely make its mark on the standard of care. That’s why the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has been a central player ensuring that the architect’s voice is at the table.

But change from what? What do we know now about how well green design is working? To meet whatever the new target turns out to be, we need to know where we stand. Many firm practices profess to design green, but do the results measure up to the hype?

Identifying a baseline for the profession is a key first step toward reaching consensus on a definition of high-performance design.

Currently, more than 130 firms of all sizes have signed on to the AIA 2030 Commitment to reduce energy consumption in their portfolios. They are measuring predicted annual performance, so that a baseline can be established.

The resulting data will be available in May at the AIA National Convention in New Orleans. This, like the IGCC, also has game-changing potential. Armed with this data, architects may finally be able to show clients how green design pays dividends in lower energy costs and a cleaner environment.

Which brings me back to the matter of intersecting parallels. Recognizing that buildings account for approximately 40 percent of the energy consumed in this country, and an even greater percentage in our cities, the AIA has been working with its members and allied professionals on a number of fronts. These include two complementary initiatives—the shaping of a fair, realistic, and consensus-based green code while developing a process through the firm commitment to benchmark how well architects are doing and to target areas of improvement.

What it comes down to is this: The AIA is taking an integrated approach to advocate and prepare architects for the world of the 21st century, a world that more than ever needs the expertise of architects to meet the needs of a growing and changing planet.

The partnership between the AIA and Hanley Wood that begins with this issue is an exciting piece of this multidimensional campaign of advocacy, knowledge sharing, and public and client outreach. The partnership brings together the parallel communities of those served by this magazine, as well as residential architect, EcoHome, and ARCHITECT. We have a great deal of important work ahead. And it’s important that we’re now doing it together. AIA

Clark D. Manus, FAIA, 2011 President