President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
Evan Vucci/AP Photo President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

In his State of the Union address last night, President Barack Obama discussed issues affecting the design industry: climate change, the economy, and student debt. Architects should take note as White House policy initiatives will no doubt impact the AEC community during Obama's final year in office.

The AIA issued a response to Obama's speech and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley's Republican rebuttal, highlighting ways that the federal government can support AEC this year. “Both President Obama and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, in her Republican response, spoke in broad strokes about their parties’ competing visions for the nation,” AIA president Russ Davidson, FAIA, said in a press release. “But instead of offering competing ideas, there are still clear bipartisan initiatives both the President and Congress can undertake in his final year in office to grow jobs in the $1 trillion design and construction sector, which accounts for almost 6 percent of GDP.”

The AIA statement outlines the legislation it has been pushing in recent years. Emphasizing the need to reduce the construction industry's environmental impact, the AIA encourages Congress to develop a long-term solution to encourage energy efficiency in construction, rather than annually renewing incentives like the 179D Energy Efficient Commercial Building Tax Deduction when they reach their expiration dates, and to retain the federal government's 2030 energy efficiency targets for its buildings. "We are grateful that the president has threatened to veto current energy legislation that contains repeal of these targets and urge both sides to pass a truly consensus-driven energy bill," Davidson said.

The AIA's list of legislative priorities also includes passing the National Design Services Act, which would assist architecture school graduates with student debt in exchange for community service, and promoting investment in historic preservation by strengthening the Historic Tax Credit

AIA's advocacy team lived-tweeted Obama's and Haley's speeches, connecting talking points, such as taxes and global trade, to the economic impacts on architecture firms, especially small practices.

The AIA will also release a guide to the the 2016 presidential election, including more information about the stances that Republican and Democratic candidates have taken on issues impacting architects, later this year.

Check out @AIA_Advocacy's #SOTU tweets here.

Read ARCHITECT's annotations to the 2015 State of the Union address here.