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July 8, 2019

Comments on the Draft 0 NAAB 2020 Conditions for Accreditation


From the AIA Committee on the Environment

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to share our feedback on the Draft 0 NAAB 2020
Conditions for Accreditation. While we appreciate the goals of the task group to promote
greater flexibility, innovation and differentiation across accredited schools of architecture, we
are concerned that the draft document doesn’t adequately address the most urgent issues of
our time – the role of the architect in addressing climate action and projected impacts. We have
suggested edits and additions to the document below that we trust will be seriously considered
at the Forum in July.

As architects committed to transforming the climate and health impacts of current and future
architectural practice, we believe we have a moral, ethical, and urgent obligation to address the
accreditation criteria for schools in the U.S., anything less would be a dereliction of our duty as
architects and educators. We recognize the influence U.S. schools of architecture have across
the globe which makes this opportunity even more important.

We base our comments on two foundations:


1. Architects’ Commitment to Climate Action:
Recent widespread actions by the AIA and others across the globe confirm the urgent need
to address climate change as a key responsibility of all architects. This is currently not
addressed in Condition 2, Defining Values of the Profession and in other sections of the
draft document and needs to be clearly integrated.

Background:
The delegates at the recent AIA’19 conference overwhelmingly supported a Resolution for
Urgent and Sustained Climate Action to provide a framework for the AIA to prioritize and
support urgent climate action to exponentially accelerate the “decarbonization of buildings,
the building sector and the built environment. (see attached for complete text). The
Resolution specifies three actions for sustaining the health, safety and welfare of human life
on our planet:

1. Declare an urgent climate imperative for carbon reduction.


2. Transform the day-to-day practice of architects to achieve a zero-carbon, equitable, resilient and healthy
built environment by adopting the AIA Framework for Design Excellence. (The AIA Committee on the
Environment (COTE) Top Ten Measures (https://www.aia.org/resources/6077668-the-cote-top-ten-toolkit).)
3. Align and utilize our external messaging to leverage support of our peers, clients, policy makers, and the
public at large.

The resolution is built on recent initiatives from the AIA stressing the responsibility of all
architects to address climate change including:
• AIA Board of Director’s statements on Climate Change which state the AIA’s position on
the science of climate change, the substantial greenhouse gas emissions from buildings
and cities, and the vital role architects must play in combatting climate change. See
https://www.aia.org/resources/77541-where-we-stand-climate-change and
http://content.aia.org/sites/default/files/2017-04/AIA-Commentary_climate-change-mitigation.pdf
• The 2018 AIA Code of Ethics update to the Canon VI, Obligations to the Environment,
including: (http://content.aia.org/sites/default/files/2018-09/2018_Code_of_Ethics_0.pdf)
o Ethical Standard 6.5: Climate Change. Members should incorporate adaptation strategies with their clients
to anticipate extreme weather events and minimize adverse effects on the environment, economy, and
public health.
o Rule 6.501. Members shall consider with their clients the environmental effects of their project decisions.
• The recommendations from the AIA Blue Ribbon Panel for Codes and Standards which
states:

...today we observe a rapidly changing world that is not properly reflected in what it means to protect ‘health,
safety, and welfare.’ We have observed the devastating effects of climate change throughout the world,
growing social inequity, and human health crises that demand the definition of ‘HSW’ now focus on and
include the growing bodies of knowledge in resilience, equitable design, and advanced building
performance.

• Adoption of the resolution was supported by 24 recent National Firm Award winners
who stated:

An historic, rapid transformation of our built environment to zero net carbon emissions is absolutely crucial if
we are to secure a resilient, hopeful future for our children and grandchildren. Architects should not fear this
future - we should enthusiastically embrace it as a groundbreaking moment for leadership in our
communities, for greater meaning and relevance in our work, and for untold growth in our marketplace.

If we are true to our values as an Institute - to design a better future for all; to protect the public's health,
safety and welfare - this is our moment to act.

• In the UK, 17 Stirling Prize winners recently issued a Climate Emergency Declaration to
“create architecture and urbanism that has a more positive impact on the world around
us.”

As of this writing, 474 UK and international firms have signed onto the declaration. The
declaration includes a set of pledges:
o Raise awareness of the climate and biodiversity emergencies and the urgent need for action
among our clients and supply chains.
o Advocate for faster change in our industry towards regenerative design practices and a higher
Governmental funding priority to support this.
o Establish climate and biodiversity mitigation principles as the key measure of our industry’s
success: demonstrated through awards, prizes and listings.
o Share knowledge and research to that end on an open-source basis.
o Evaluate all new projects against the aspiration to contribute positively to mitigating climate
breakdown, and encourage our clients to adopt this approach.
o Upgrade existing buildings for extended use as a more carbon efficient alternative to demolition
and new build whenever there is a viable choice.
o Include life-cycle costing, whole-life carbon modelling and post-occupancy evaluation as part of our
basic scope of work, to reduce both embodied and operational resource use.
o Adopt more regenerative design principles in our studios, with the aim of designing architecture and
urbanism that goes beyond the standard of net zero carbon in use.
o Collaborate with engineers, contractors and clients to further reduce construction waste.
o Accelerate the shift to low embodied carbon materials in all our work.
o Minimise wasteful use of resources in architecture and urban planning, both in quantum and in
detail.

Similarly over 1500 students in the UK have issued an open letter to the architectural
community “A Call for Curriculum Change” which asks for their role in pushing academia
states in part:

We are concerned that at present our education does not give sufficient weight to the inherently ecological
and political basis of architecture nor to our responsibility to meet our uncertain future with socially and
environmentally informed practice.

We appreciate and applaud the efforts of contemporary practitioners, but we ask you to join us in using the
freedom and particular responsibility of academic institutions to push our discipline further in this direction.

• Globally, at the recent International Union of Architects (UIA) World Congress, member
organizations representing over 1.3 million architects in 124 countries worldwide
unanimously adopted the 2050 Imperative, a declaration to eliminate CO2 emissions in
the built environment by 2050.

• As important, all of the regional Architect Councils of Europe, Asia, the Americas and
Africa also signed on to the declaration, something that is unparalleled in the 65-year
history of the UIA.

2. The Role of Accreditation in Transforming Curriculum

Given the critical role that next generation architects must play in addressing climate action,
we are concerned that the more flexible approach to accreditation will limit the amount of
climate related instruction in some schools. Based on our experience as instructors and
accreditation team members, we see how the accreditation criteria provide an important
pedagogical framework that faculty and administration need to address. There should be no
choice whether to address climate action and a broader understanding of health, safety and
welfare in every aspect of the education of future architects. This can’t be considered a
school option that can be met through loose requirements with minimal documentation.

We strongly recommend that the Conditions include clearly stated accreditation goals and
requirements to address climate action. We believe it will foster more creativity across schools
while resulting in a next generation of architects who are much more capable of providing
innovative solutions using design concepts, tools and resources far beyond our current reality –
something that is urgently needed.
Recommended Changes to the 2020 NAAB Conditions for Accreditation

Additions in red

Condition 2 – Defining Values of the Profession


Modified value statement:
• Societal Responsibility: Architects are responsible for protecting public health, safety
and welfare. This encompasses a holistic understanding of HSW to protect human life
and the natural environment now and in the future. Access to good design is a
fundamental right, and Architects should be prepared to embrace their role as
professionals and leaders in society to act ethically and effectively on that responsibility.

Note: this addition comes from the Blue Ribbon Report on Codes and Standards recently
released by the AIA.

New proposed value statement:

• Climate Action: Architects are responsible to prioritize and support urgent climate
action. This encompasses:
o exponentially accelerating the decarbonization of buildings, the building sector
and the built environment.
o Integrating climate adaptation and resilience in the design of built environments

Note: this addition is based on the urgent and broad call for architects to address climate
action

Condition 4 – Program & Student Accreditation Criteria

4.1.2 Program Criteria – Program Objectives


Modified Program Objective:

• Environmental Stewardship – Climate and Human Health Responsibility – How does the
program promote and ensure sustainability and resilience that climate action and
impacts on human health and wellness are integrated in core design studios (at all
levels) and seminar courses to define architectural and urban design issues and their
resolution? How do the performance outcomes of a project contribute to these goals?
4.2 Societal Responsibility

4.2.1 Student Learning Criteria – Student Learning Objective


Modified Criteria:
• Health, Safety and Welfare in the Built Environment: The Program must demonstrate
how the curriculum ensures students understand and prepares them to apply the
architect’s responsibility for health, safety and welfare in the built environment. This
includes a holistic understanding of HSW to protect human life and the natural
environment now and in the future that incorporates` the growing bodies of knowledge
in Climate Action including materials, adaptation, resilience, equitable design and
advanced building performance.

Note: this addition comes from the Blue Ribbon Report on Codes and Standards recently
released by the AIA.

New Criteria:
• Climate Action – The Program must demonstrate how the curriculum prepares all
students to apply climate action goals of decarbonization and adaptation with an
understanding of the performance outcomes of integrated design solutions.

Note: this addition is based on the urgent and broad call for architects to address climate action

4.2.2 Student Learning Criteria – Student Learning Objectives


Proposed new
• Option C: The Program must demonstrate how the curriculum prepares the students
with the ability to apply and integrate the skills associated with making integrated
decisions across multiple building systems, materials, and variables in the completion of
a design project. These decisions must encompass the requirements of addressing
climate action and resilience, decarbonization, zoning/building codes, regulations and
the broader implications of health, safety and welfare and reflect an ability to achieve
measurable building performance outcomes.

Thank you for your consideration,

Marsha Maytum, FAIA, LEED AP


2019 Chair, AIA Committee on the Environment
Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects