In response to President Barack Obama's proposals for increasing the United States' energy security, such as the Better Buildings Initiative announced in February, the AIA has reiterated its top five energy conservation legislative priorities. "Architects make design decisions every day that have significant impact on the energy that buildings use both during their construction and throughout their life cycles," says AIA 2011 president Clark Manus, FAIA. "Architects also have a major impact on whether communities are designed in a sustainable fashion.

"How buildings are designed plays a great role in reducing dependence on fossil fuels, so we're gratified to see the President taking the opportunity again to push his 'Better Buildings Initiative' to make commercial facilities 20 percent more efficient by 2020," Manus says. "Energy conservation in buildings, which account for 70 percent of the electricity the U.S. consumes, is the hallmark of the AIA's legislative push in the 112th Congress."

Among the AIA's priorities are:

  • Strengthening the commercial building energy efficiency tax deduction. The AIA supports increasing the value of the deduction, an increase that was included in bipartisan legislation in 2010, or by turning it into a tax credit as proposed by the Obama administration.
  • Passing a long-term transportation bill that empowers communities to plan in ways that reduce energy-wasting congestion and promote livable, walkable neighborhoods.
  • Passing the bipartisan America's Clean Energy Leadership Act approved in 2009 by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which promotes stronger energy building codes and building retrofits.
  • Restoring funding for government building energy retrofits that was cut in the most recent continuing resolution.
  • Passing legislation to allow states and localities to use PACE bonds. The proceeds from such municipal bonds are lent to property owners to finance energy efficiency measures and small renewable energy systems. The owners repay their loans over a 20-year term via an annual assessment on their property tax bill.