courtesy AIA

Sustainability. Climate change. Equity. Diversity. These are not just words in our strategic plan—these are core tenets that drive our mission to inspire and empower our membership to improve society and transform the world.

This mission requires a two-pronged approach. First, we want to encourage daily actions that apply our values across practices, firms, and the profession. You may be aware of the range of programs that support this goal, such as the Framework for Design Excellence, Guides for Equitable Practice, Next to Lead, and the 2030 Commitment. If not, I recommend discovering, through AIA’s website, how you can engage and participate.

Second, we need a long-term plan that communicates our mission with objectives for advocacy and legislation. AIA’s board sets the policy direction for AIA’s federal agenda every two years, incorporating member feedback, surveys, and resolutions. From there, the board-level Government Advocacy Committee (GAC) provides more specifics and sets the policy prioritization based on current developments on Capitol Hill and within the administration.

Progress takes time—that is why our efforts require staying on track. We have had significant successes in this past year:

  • Continuing AIA’s Buildings Are Infrastructure campaign from 2021, AIA successfully secured multiple priorities in the Budget Reconciliation package, called the Inflation Reduction Act. Biden signed it into law on Aug. 16. The package includes grants to states and local governments to adopt the latest energy codes; investments in a residential energy rebate program; an energy-efficient electric home rebate program; and updated tax incentives for energy-efficient commercial and residential buildings (179D). The 179D deductions are now almost three times more robust, and, for the first time, tax-exempt entities are eligible for the deduction as well.
  • AIA, in conjunction with its member-led Committee on Architecture for Education (CAE), advanced the authorization of the Federal School Safety Clearinghouse in the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. An AIA and member-backed priority since 2018, the Clearinghouse is now ensured to operate through future administrations and features CAE best practices for design that create safe and welcoming learning spaces. These designs encourage diversity, equity, and inclusion for the well-being of students and educators.
  • AIA hosted a successful hybrid Lobby Day in April 2022. The event included live remarks from Democratic Rep. Dina Titus of Nevada on the Democracy in Design Act and recorded remarks from Republican Sen. Todd Young of Indiana about the Yes In My Backyard Act. Those two bipartisan bills were the focus of the Lobby Day, and congressional support for both bills has grown since then.

We also have a political action committee—ArchiPAC—that supports candidates at a federal level. The AIA board created the PAC in 1980. We provide full transparency about the fund on our website. Every year, as part of our volunteer opportunities outreach, we invite members to apply for the PAC’s 11-member steering committee. These members are appointed by the AIA President and approved by the AIA Board of Directors, and serve a one-year term.

If you have an interest in being a part of this process, please contact us via member services to learn if you are eligible. We need an active and diverse committee to help make decisions on the application of PAC funds.

All of our many programs and services help us promote prosperous, sustainable, and equitable communities. Our collective support also signals our priorities and relevance to the public.

On an individual level, you can seek ways to get a seat at the table in your communities when important decisions are being made. You can also define your personal values and the vision you have for your community; evaluate your city, county, and state candidates using that lens; and apply the power of your vote.