Under the new bill, the proportion of homes worth enough to take advantage of the MID would decrease from 44% to 12.5%.
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The freshmen in Congress are shaking up the national policy debate. The group includes some polarizing figures, but love them or hate them, you have to give the Class of 2019 credit for sheer chutzpah. They’re forcing us to have important, uncomfortable conversations about issues that plague everyday Americans—and that too many politicians avoid like the plague: housing and healthcare affordability, student debt, and green jobs and infrastructure.

These issues are pivotal to the architecture profession, to the built environment, and to the nation as a whole. So AIA and 2019 President William Bates, FAIA, deserve kudos for the Feb. 8 statement of support for one of the next-gen representatives’ bolder moves, the Green New Deal:

“We applaud the efforts of Congress and its committees this week to find new ways to support achieving a carbon neutral future by 2030, which is critical to our global future. By investing in infrastructure, upgrading the existing building stock, and improving resilience in the built environment, we can make progress towards AIA’s 2030 Commitment goals. However, there’s a great deal of work that needs to be done. AIA encourages Congress to swiftly enact public policies today that will address the dire consequences we’re facing.”

The statement, while enthusiastic, doesn’t read to me like a blanket endorsement, nor should it. As a nonbinding resolution, the Green New Deal is the legislative equivalent of a position paper, and needs to be fleshed out. Still, AIA is right to see promise in it. Improving our cities, infrastructure, and buildings in ways that will increase efficiency, mitigate climate change, and engender resilience—these are excellent goals, especially when one considers the terrible price of inaction.

What else would the Green New Deal entail? The document’s first three pages (out of 14) reiterate some of the more frightening findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (namely that it’s about to get real ugly, real fast if we don’t curb carbon emissions), and includes an awful but accurate recitation of stats about current economic inequities.

It’s on page 4 that things get exciting, with a call for a “national, social, industrial, and economic mobilization on a scale not seen since World War II and the New Deal era.” The purpose of this massive effort would be to grow the economy, get people working, rebuild industry and infrastructure, and promote equity, all while reaching a state of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.

One think tank, the American Action Forum, says that implementing the Green New Deal will cost somewhere between $51 trillion and $93 trillion (which the president has rounded up to $100 trillion). Those figures are just a scare tactic. The truth is that the resolution does not include remotely enough detail for anyone to generate a meaningful estimate.

First, we need to have a serious debate and build consensus around the best solutions for climate change and the other crises addressed by the Green New Deal. Then we need to act. And as Bates observed, we need to act swiftly. We should no longer indulge willful ignorance. Architecture, it’s time to mobilize.

This article originally appeared in the April 2019 issue of ARCHITECT, with the title “What's the Big Green Deal?”