Russell A. Davidson, FAIA, 2016 AIA President
Photography: Carl Bower Russell A. Davidson, FAIA, 2016 AIA President

Architects are on the leading edge of a trillion-dollar design and construction industry, which is a major economic force, and as such can have a big voice on Capitol Hill and in statehouses. When we invest the time and resources to advocate for smart policy, legislators do listen. Congress heard us when we pushed to extend the 179D energy efficient commercial building tax deduction in late December. The House and Senate passed a two-year extension on policy that encourages the design and construction of buildings that are energy efficient. It’s a win that also saves taxpayers money. We’ve also garnered bipartisan support for the National Design Services Act that, when passed into law, will help relieve architect students’ debt in exchange for public service.

An election year is not the time to quietly sit on the sidelines. The AIA will continue to voice support on federal legislation like the Historic Tax Credit (HTC). Since its inception, the HTC has rehabilitated more than 40,000 buildings and created nearly 2.5 million jobs. In a city like Detroit, host to AIA’s 2016 Grassroots Conference, the HTC can influence decisions in revitalizing buildings in the historic core of downtown, enhancing property values, and encouraging additional reinvestments by adjacent property owners.

This year, the AIA also is working with the U.S. Department of Energy on new residential design initiatives that will raise the profile of architects. The AIA has also updated the Guidelines for Building Science Education that’s available to assist professional architects. A Race to Zero Design Competition will engage students, academia, and emerging professionals. Consumer-facing outreach will take shape in a Tour of Zero website that will educate homeowners on the benefits of net-zero homes.

Your role in advocacy is not limited to simply reading about what the AIA is doing on behalf of the profession. Participate in AIA action alerts to engage with your state legislators via their social media pages. Better yet, invite a lawmaker to a component meeting or a construction site. Direct involvement means direct action at a critical time for architecture.