AIA|WA Continues to Make Strides in Sustainable Development

AIA|WA is riding a wave of success in the promotion of more sustainable development practices. In 2005, Washington was the first state to pass a requirement that publicly funded buildings meet LEED Silver or equivalent standards.

In 2009, AIA|WA successfully helped pass the Efficiency First Law; which requires improvements to the Washington State Energy Code over the next 20 years. The goal of the law is to get to net zero carbon impact for energy consumption by buildings.

This session the AIA|WA stopped an effort to roll-back the 2009 Washington State Energy Code. Two bills, House Bill 1388 and Senate Bill 5751, were introduced with the aim of returning the state to 2006 energy code criteria. The AIA|WA worked hard to educate lawmakers about the importance of energy efficiency improvements. AIA|WA testified about how detrimental and expensive it would be to change the energy code because projects are already using the 2009 requirements.

The attempted roll-back of the energy code was one of several sustainability battles this session. Despite being in effect for six years, the Washington High Performance Public Buildings law continued to be attacked. As it was introduced, Senate Bill 5300 (SB 5300), would have removed LEED standards from state law. It also would’ve forced the use of wood in construction. AIA|WA successfully amended SB 5300 to mirror current law regarding the use of wood. With the AIA-backed amendments, the bill passed.

Later, another challenge to the state building code was presented with Senate Bill 5485 (SB 5485). This bill would have required the State Building Code Council (SBCC) to create a pro-wood bias in the building code. AIA|WA successfully argued that the state government should not dictate material selection through the building code. Architects select building materials based on safety, function, performance, client opinions and aesthetics. The choice of materials should be left to architects.

SB 5485 would also have required public buildings make an expensive analysis of their building materials based on “embodied energy” amounts. Embodied energy measurement is a worthy goal, but there is no standard metric for it. Without a standard metric, each project would be forced to develop its own standard; which leads to inconsistent results.

The AIA|WA worked with the wood industry and educators to successfully change the bill into a study. The study requires the University of Washington and Washington State University collaborate on the examination embodied energy. The universities will make recommendations to the Department of General Administration and the legislature about the implementation of metrics for measuring embodied energy. The study is due to be completed by September 2012.

No comments:

Post a Comment