AIA Member Priorities … [re-post]

Growing Economy, Infrastructure Top List of AIA Member Priorities
By Andrew Goldberg, Managing Director, Government Relations & Outreach

AIA members expressed support for a wide variety of policy prescriptions for Congress and the White House to address in 2013, with job creation and infrastructure investment among the top priorities.

The results come from the AIA’s annual Call for Issues survey, which asks members to identify the key issues the Institute should include in their federal advocacy agenda. Nearly 3400 AIA members took part in the survey, shattering previous records. The AIA Board Advocacy Committee is using the results to shape the AIA’s 2013 federal advocacy agenda, which will be announced in early January.

According to the survey, the policy ideas that garner the most support from AIA members are “provid[ing] incentives for building owners to retrofit their buildings to make them more energy and water efficient” and “promot[ing] livable community planning and design.”

Other policy ideas that won support from members include “reduc[ing] regulations and red tape on architecture firms” and “provid[ing] additional funding and financing mechanisms to rebuild the nation’s built infrastructure.”

The survey shows that a slim majority of AIA members want the Institute to advocate for policies that both promote good design and reflect the business interests of design firms. Roughly a quarter of members want the AIA to focus primarily on design issues, and a roughly equal number prefer a primary focus on business issues.

Fixing the Economy

When asked what steps Congress should take to improve the economy, a sizable plurality of respondents cited infrastructure as a top priority, in particular projects that focus on buildings as opposed to roads and bridges. In addition, many members urged the AIA to highlight the important role of design in the infrastructure debate. As one respondent suggested, “Fund major building/renovation projects at the design stage. ‘Shovel ready’ is NOT economically impactful. Repaving asphalt roads does not create many jobs. Major building/renovation projects put almost every trade to work.”

Other responses reflected the variety of viewpoints that are shaping policy debates across the country. Many members urged policymakers to reduce the size of government and cut red tape, for example, while others offered support for increased access to project financing and support of historic preservation and affordable housing.

Notably, a large number of respondents said that ending gridlock and fostering bipartisan cooperation should be policymakers’ top priority. “Opposing factions need to cooperate and compromise if we are going to move forward in a positive manner” was how one respondent put it.

Other Issues

AIA members also expressed support for tackling a wide variety of policy issues, from incentivizing sustainable design to stopping the outsourcing of jobs.

The responses crossed the partisan and ideological divide; some members urged the AIA to become more conservative, while others want the AIA to take a more liberal tack. The survey, which took place prior to the election, also included a few exhortations to “fire” Democrats or Republicans in the voting booth.

A large number of members voiced support for policy proposals that promote the role of architects in design; one respondent said that “Architecture can have a very meaningful impact on energy consumption, from planning communities to reduce commuting to energy-efficient design. That role should be explained.”

Several AIA members urged policies that require the use of architects on building projects. Others urged the AIA to work with its allies in the design and construction industry to press home the point that the industry creates jobs. One respondent noted, “The building industry has one of the highest influences in the job market. If people are building, people are working.”

Although some members said that the AIA should not engage in advocacy, a large number of respondents said that the AIA should redouble its efforts to advance architects’ principles in the policymaking arena. As one respondent stated: “Architects are natural leaders. It’s time to step up the game.”

For the full results of the AIA Call for Issues survey, click here.


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