Can the U.S. Building Sector Become Carbon Neutral by 2040?

Over the course of the last two blogs, we’ve looked at different building and design methods that are becoming more popular in an effort to reduce the building sector’s carbon emissions. Today, thanks in large part to architects advocating for “greener” building practices over the past decade, architect/climate experts are confident that the US building sector can become carbon neutral by 2040.

How did we get here? And what still needs to be done to make sure we achieve this goal? How can you as an architect help make sure we literally save the planet? Read on to find out.

The Threat

Edward Mazria, FAIA, is the founder and CEO of the nonprofit Architecture 2030 and the recipient of the 2021 AIA Gold Medal. In a recent Architect Magazine article, he explains the reasoning behind the 2040 goal and why, despite the looming threats to the planet, there are still reasons to be optimistic.

In 2018, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a collection of the world’s leading climate scientists, issued a report that described the avoidable consequences if we (as in everyone on earth) continued our efforts to prevent just a half degree in the rise of average global temperatures (1.5°C vs 2°C).

If nothing is done and the global average temperature increases by 2°C, instead of 1.5°C,

  • 2.6 times more people, or 37% of the world’s population, will be exposed to severe heat at least once in five years.
  • Plants and vertebrates will lose twice as much habitat as they would at only 1.5°C of warming; insects would lose 3 times as much.
  • The decline of fisheries’ global annual catch will double from 1.65 million tons to 3.3 million tons.
  • The rate of sea-level rise will increase 30% by 2100.

Preventing consequences such as the ones listed above is why in 2015 the United Nations established the Paris Agreement, whose goal is “to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.”

Today, the planet’s average global temperature has risen by slightly more than 1°C from pre-industrial levels. In Mazria’s view, “unless the world collectively reduces current levels of global carbon emissions 50% to 65% by 2030—and completely phases them out by 2040—it will likely pass the 1.5°C warming threshold.”

These are all serious threats to our planet, but there is good news. According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), the country is currently on a promising track. 

Making Progress

In the EIA’s 2020 carbon emission report, the building sector’s total operating carbon emissions were 27% below 2005 levels. This means the building sector met the US commitment to the United Nations Paris Agreement of a 26% to 28% reduction from 2005 emissions levels five years ahead of the 2025 target date! In fact, the EIA projects that the building sector’s carbon emissions will continue to decline post-pandemic if we just continue on our present course.

How We Got Here

According to Mazria, even though the U.S. has added “more than 50 billion square feet to its building stock, energy consumption in the building sector stabilized in 2005 and has not increased since.” This is in part due to architects across the nation designing more efficient buildings each year.

Source: Architecture 2030

The Work Ahead

Although the US is currently trending in the right direction when it comes to carbon emissions, there is still plenty of work to be done in order to meet the 2040 goal. In the US, Mazria sees opportunity for improvement with the upcoming administration. Mainly, by rejoining the Paris Agreement, and focusing on adding “federal, state, and local government incentives and policies for energy-efficient building upgrades, electrification, and the adoption of more efficient and zero-carbon building codes federal programs that reduce carbon emissions.” Below are a few policy examples:

Recently, the International Code Council approved the addition of the “Zero Code Renewable Energy Appendix” into the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). The American Institute of Architects (AIA) worked with Architecture 2030 to develop the appendix, which aims to empower “local communities to take action on climate change through building codes.”

The ultimate purpose of the Zero Code Appendix is to provide a national and international framework for creating zero carbon buildings. A zero carbon building is defined as one that “uses no on-site fossil fuels and produces or procures enough carbon free renewable energy to meet building operational energy consumption annually.”

The now-approved appendix gives jurisdictions the option to adopt a zero-net-carbon standard as their community’s minimum energy code. Doing so would require all new commercial, institutional, and mid- and high-rise residential buildings to produce or procure enough renewable energy to achieve zero-net-carbon annually. The appendix encourages onsite renewable energy systems when feasible but also supports off-site procurement of renewable energy through a variety of methods. However, this appendix does not allow renewable energy to be traded off against the energy efficiency required by the 2021 IECC. 

If you’re interested in taking more steps to reduce carbon use in your designs, check out the Zero Code’s Implementation Guide

Another way the US can improve carbon emissions in the building sector is by enacting more federal programs. Since the building sector consumes approximately 74% of the electricity generated in the US, Mazria says he is excited for the Biden administration’s Plan for a Clean Energy Revolution and Environmental Justice. Moving toward carbon-free electricity by 2035 would reduce the building sector’s carbon emissions further, by about 60% below 2005 levels by 2030.

The journey ahead to curbing climate disaster will not be easy. But thanks to efforts by you and your architect colleagues, there is still hope for a healthier planet for our descendants.  

What are some ways you've worked carbon efficiency into your designs? Let us know on social media!


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Modular Architecture’s Potential Comeback

In our last blog, we talked about the many benefits of incorporating mass timber into more building designs. One of those benefits was the on-site time and cost savings that resulted from mass timber’s prefabrication capabilities. Now, in this follow-up blog, we’ll look at “modular architecture” as a whole and how the pandemic is bringing it back to the mainstream.

Modular (or prefabricated, used here interchangeably) construction isn’t new, with evidence that it dates back to the 1600s. In the US, modular construction reached its peak thanks to a post-WWII housing shortage. But it never really “took off” within the larger, more traditional building projects that preferred “build on site” methods.

But now, architecture design researcher Daniel Davis says “fueled by a favorable economic environment, new technological developments, and the COVID-19 pandemic, modular architecture is showing up in new and unexpected ways.”

Modular Construction’s Benefits & Challenges

Similarly to mass timber, studies have shown that modular construction saves time, can save money, creates less waste, and is better for the environment. 

Case studies have shown that modular construction projects accelerate project timelines by 20 to 50 percent.

One UK construction publication has found that modular construction projects “are more energy-efficient, create less waste, and increase the use of sustainable materials. There is also a reduction in the carbon footprint of the build as fewer people are travelling to and from the site.”

But there are reasons massive modular projects haven’t taken over in the US. The cost of transportation alone can overcome any jobsite savings, and modular projects require more design and engineering decisions to be made much earlier in the planning process. One east coast consulting service says “it requires architects, engineers and contractors to be familiar with the intricacies of the modular fabrication and erection stages.”

Despite these challenges, recent technological improvements (and lots of funding from investors) are increasing the possibility of larger scale modular projects.

Modular Construction’s Potential

Investments Left & Right

In 2017 McKinsey released a 155-page report on the global construction industry that outlined a $1.6 trillion opportunity to move the construction industry toward “a manufacturing-inspired mass-production system.” Since then, that trillion “with a T” dollar projection created a long line of investors itching to get in on the potential profits. Here’s a rundown of just a few of them from Davis’s article:

Recently Juno, a startup founded by Apple and Tesla veterans, announced it had raised $11 million to “rethink how housing is developed.” Shortly afterwards, Factory OS reported that it had raised $55 million from Autodesk, Facebook, Google, and others to build houses “more like cars.” 

SHoP Architects recently revealed that it was launching Assembly OSM, a separate company aimed at reimagining building manufacturing (perhaps picking up from its earlier modular foray with the B2 apartments in Brooklyn, N.Y.). Katerra has raised more than a billion dollars to fund its factories, which can make everything from precast frames to countertops.

Technological Breakthroughs

Along with the recent flood of investment capital, the technology of modular construction has advanced significantly in the past decade.

“Just doing construction in a new way isn’t enough to innovate,” explains Danil Nagy, chief technology officer at iBuilt, an early prefabrication pioneer founded originally as Deluxe Modular in 1965. “You have to take on more of the process to disrupt the industry; you need both a new business model and the technology to make that business work.”

Luckily, that technology is largely here. Modular systems traditionally worked like Legos?, with rigid units that stack to form a building. Now, recent developments in computational design allow designers to create modules that offer a degree of flexibility. Rather than being uniform bricks, the modules can shrink, grow, or truncate to better fit a project.

Two workers assemble a module in iBUILT’s factory.

This is especially important for urban sites where space is at a premium and a rectangular box won’t necessarily provide the most efficient layout. This technique is familiar to many architects, with computational designers at practices like Zaha Hadid Architects using similar algorithms to adjust façade panels to fit an irregularly shaped building.

COVID-19 Changes Things…Again

Just like mostly everything else in 2020, COVID-19 has changed the way we live and work. With the increase in telecommuting, many people are moving or rethinking their living arrangements. Like the wartime effort to quickly build thousands of houses, modular construction may provide a way to quickly satisfy the demand for new housing. 

Beth Cameron, the co-founder and director of Makers of Architecture, a New Zealand firm that specializes in prefabricated housing, says that her firm has experienced a “huge wave” of business as people began seeing “their home environments through a new lens.”

With money, technology, and market conditions all in alignment, modular architecture may seem like an existential threat for firms whose projects could be replicated in a factory, Davis warns. But on the other hand, with so many companies vying to make their flavor of modular construction succeed, it’s not clear which—if any—will be successful.

Modular Construction Case Studies

Despite large scale modular construction still being in its infancy, architects “have plenty of opportunities before them,” Davis says. Here’s just one example of an upcoming modular project (that also happens to rely largely on mass timber).

Generate

After spending his formative years in China “building the unbuildable,” John Klein, AIA, took a position at MIT where he focused on the crises of housing affordability and climate change. Once he realized many of the design techniques he used in China could be applied to develop more replicable and sustainable buildings in the US, he founded Generate, an architecture studio that specializes in modular construction.

Generate prefabricates components of its building, such as the bathroom and façade. Source: Generate

In September, Generate partnered with Placetailor, a Boston-based design, development, and construction cooperative that focuses exclusively on zero-carbon housing, to design and deliver the Model-C housing project

A section through Generate’s Tall House project shows how the building systems come together.

The five-story, 19,000-square-foot building in Boston fills an irregular wedge of land so particularly that its factory origins seem improbable. The walls run at odd angles, tracing the site’s perimeter instead of a factory-made grid. Inside, each apartment contains a unique combination of bedrooms and living room layouts sized to fit the skewed exterior.

The flexible module is constructed from cross-laminated timber. Using software that Klein developed with his team, he can quickly lay out modules on a site and export drawing sets to a factory, which follow the principles of Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DfMA).

“We at Generate and Placetailor believe the Model-C apartments will be one of the most sustainable buildings in the U.S.,” Klein says. The building is expected to operate at a net-zero carbon level when it is completed late next year. With nine other projects in the early to late design phases, Generate and its novel construction systems seem to be finding early success. 

Modular Construction’s Bright Future

There are plenty more modular construction projects emerging, like from House by Urban Splash in the UK. Their mission is to build “architect-designed factory-created, modular houses using low carbon and sustainable materials.” As investments and demand continue to grow, so will the opportunity for architects.

What do you think of shifting toward more modular designs? Have you ever worked on a modular project? Let us know on social media!


If you’re a licensed Architect in one of the following states, your license renewal deadline is December 31st! 

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Can Wood Building Materials Replace Steel & Concrete?

For the modern architect, designing with environmental sustainability in mind is no longer wishful thinking, but a necessity. With hundreds of cities and architecture organizations around the world committing to curbing climate change with more aggressive sustainability plans, the architect’s search for things like sustainable building materials is ongoing.

In this blog, we’re discussing one of the world’s oldest building materials: good ‘ol wood. But just how good is wood’s sustainability for larger projects? What about deforestation concerns? And should architects really consider more recent developments like cross-laminated timber the “concrete of the future?” Let’s take a look.

Wood's Comeback Story

Before we get into the research surrounding wood’s environmental impact, here’s a quick refresher on why it’s back in the building materials conversation in the first place.

Thanks to the Industrial Revolution, steel and reinforced concrete largely replaced the natural building materials that architects had relied on for centuries; becoming the (literal) backbone for big and bold new designs. 

But over the years, the constant production of modern building materials like steel and concrete has been environmentally costly. According to Architecture 2030, roughly 11% of total global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions come from building materials and construction.

So what alternative can architects look to when trying to design sustainable buildings? Enter structural timber (aka “mass timber”). Mass timber, according to this simple explanation, is the process of “sticking pieces of soft wood — generally conifers like pine, spruce, or fir, but also sometimes deciduous species such as birch, ash, and beech — together to form larger pieces.” 

Or, put another way, “wood, but like Legos.” 

One of the most popular forms of mass timber (especially in Europe) is cross-laminated timber (CLT). To create a CLT “slab,” lumber boards that have been trimmed and kiln-dried are glued together in layers, crosswise, with the grain of each layer facing against the grain of the previous layer.

cross-laminated timber graphic

Source: Arch Daily

Mass Timber's Benefits

Various studies have shown that mass timber products are strong, fire-resistant, save time on building sites, and most importantly, are far better for the environment than concrete or steel. Let’s break down those claims one-by-one.

Strength

In a study cited in Arch Daily, CLT delivers at minimum the “same structural strength as reinforced concrete, but it's a material with a high degree of flexibility that has to undergo great deformations to break and collapse – unlike concrete.”

Taller mass timber structures have also proven to perform very well in “earthquake tests.” In one study done in California, the test resulted in the CLT products “performed as well as steel or concrete.”

K House / Kitamura Naoya Architects & Planners. Image © Takumi Ota

But a beneficial difference is in the event of an earthquake, a CLT wall system allows any damaged connection devices on the building to be pulled out and replaced, often within just hours, rather than scrapping the whole structure – something not possible with steel or concrete.

Fire Resistance

According to Think Wood, a 5-ply CLT panel wall was subjected to temperatures exceeding 1,800 Fahrenheit and lasted 3 hours and 6 minutes, far more than the two-hour rating that building codes require.

During fires, exposed mass timber chars on the outside, which forms an insulating layer protecting interior wood from damage. Additionally, when the code requires mass timber to be protected with gypsum wall board, the mass timber can achieve nearly damage-free performance during a contents-fire burnout event.

You can learn more about mass timber’s fire safety in this (very) in-depth US Department of Agriculture study from 2018.

“During fires, exposed mass timber chars on the outside, which forms an insulating layer protecting interior wood from damage.” © Think Wood

Time Savings

One of the biggest time-saving benefits that most pro-mass timber sources point to is prefabrication. Instead of ordering massive amounts of steel or concrete, then cutting and shaping everything to fit the design (which causes a lot of waste), mass timber products are built in a factory with pre-cut openings and lifting straps.

Giant slabs of cross-laminated timber and concrete composite were positioned as part of the floor system. (Alex Schreyer/UMASS)

According to the softwood lumber industry, “Mass timber buildings are roughly 25% faster to construct than concrete buildings and require 90% less construction traffic.” The faster production and installation time also contributes to the reduced GHG emissions.

In a story for National Geographic, John Klein, an architect at MIT, said “his firm could offer the teeming cities of the 2020s a line of standardized, customizable, mid-rise apartments and office buildings, largely made of modular mass timber, that developers could order to spec like IKEA sofas.”

And finally, we arrive at the last benefit and the answer to our original question.

Environmental Impact & Sustainability

This entire blog was inspired by a recent Arch Daily article that poses this question: “Although we may see wood as a great building material of the future, is it possible to continue cutting down trees and using their wood while still calling it sustainable?”

Answers to this sustainability question range from a resounding “Yes!” to a begrudging “It’s better than what we’re using now.” Where everyone seems to agree, however, is on mass timber’s positive environmental impact when compared to other traditional building materials.

Last year, a team at the University of Washington attempted a full lifecycle analysis comparing a “hybrid, mid-rise, CLT commercial building” to “a reinforced concrete building with similar functional characteristics.” After tallying up all the many factors, they concluded that the CLT building represented a “26.5% reduction in global warming potential.”

Another study found that replacing other construction materials with wood could reduce 14% to 31% of global carbon dioxide emissions and 12% to 19% of global fossil fuel consumption.

But numbers like this are highly dependent on one thing: proper forest management. In the long term, large scale mass timber projects will only work in the US if suppliers make sure their products come from sources that adhere to standards set by responsible regulators like the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

Eduardo Souza from this Arch Daily article stresses that “as architects, it is essential that we conduct detailed research on the source of all the materials we work with. The designer must be the first to realize that not only are the quality and costs of materials important, but also where they came from and how they were extracted.”

The Sierra Club, a large environmental organization, does not oppose mass timber, but says that it cannot truly benefit the climate without first changing current forestry practices. “CLT cannot be climate-smart unless it comes from climate-smart forestry,” they said.

So right now, mass timber’s status as both environmentally positive and sustainable is a somewhat complicated “yes” with caveats.

Mass Timber's Future

One sign that mass timber structures may soon become more common in the US comes from changes to the 2021 International Building Code (IBC).

Construction Executive reports that “the International Code Council has approved 17 changes to the 2021 editions of the IBC and International Fire Code, allowing for mass timber buildings up to 18 stories. With the addition of three new mass timber construction types (Type IV-A, IV-B, and IV-C), this is the first time in the history of the modern building code that significantly new construction types have been added to the code.”

What do you think about designing with mass timber? You found it interesting enough to make it to the end of this blog, so let us know your thoughts on social media!

If you’re a licensed Architect in one of the following states, your license renewal deadline is December 31st! 

  • Alabama
  • Delaware
  • Kentucky
  • Missouri
  • North Carolina
  • New Mexico
  • Ohio
  • Texas
  • West Virginia
  • Arkansas
  • Florida
  • Louisiana
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  • Nevada
  • Oregon
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  • Wyoming

To view all state approved continuing education course packages, start by choosing your state!

How Email Marketing Can Help Build Your Client Base

As remote work and video-only conferencing ramps back up, your outbound marketing efforts need to ramp up too. In a recent Architect Magazine article, Evelyn Lee lays out a plan for using an effective but often-overlooked medium: email. 

Email? Isn’t that outdated? What about social media? Or a website redesign?

While using social media and keeping a strong web presence are important, here are some reasons why email marketing is still relevant.

Email newsletters offer more control than social media

One problem with any social media channel is that the platform —Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.—controls the medium. To ensure your posts are seen by potential clients, you need to keep up with the platforms' ever-changing algorithms and “pay to play” with advertisements. With an email newsletter, the only changes that impact the effectiveness of this tool to engage its audience are made by you.

Email marketing has higher engagement and conversion rates

Unlike social media, which is often oversaturated with too many different things, email marketing is more focused. When someone does open one of your emails, they are more likely to be interested in what you or your firm has to say. This is especially true of B2B (business-to-business) services. 

According to HubSpot, 86% of business professionals prefer to use email over social media when communicating for business purposes. And in a Campaign Monitor study, they found that Email Marketing has a 3% average conversion rate, while Social Media Marketing averages around 0.5%.

Email offers powerful personalization opportunities

Having your recipients’ respective first names appear in the intro of an email is not a new trick, but segmenting email lists is a lesser-known tool used by savvy marketers. 

For instance, if your firm is serving different industry verticals—K-12, universities, civic—you can send the latest case study for your firm’s newly completed, ground-up high school to only those interested in your K-12 vertical or even in only your high school projects.

This type of hyper-focus can be much better for your business than all your social media followers seeing everything you broadcast all the time.

Email marketing is cost-effective

According to the Direct Marketing Association, email marketing (across all industries) brings in an average of $40 for every $1 spent. Best of all, starting an email marketing newsletter is easy, and plenty of email service providers have "free-mium" offerings to help you start your newsletter at no cost.

Final thoughts

According to Lee, “Generally speaking, architects are not good at outbound marketing. For the most part, we are either reactive to requests for proposals or highly reliant on repeat work from clients and their referrals.” Email marketing is one of the easiest outbound marketing tools that firms can roll out—and it doesn’t require daily, or even weekly, updates.

You may already be spending money on social media advertisements - which is good if it’s bringing your website traffic - but social media needs to be the start of a conversation with potential clients. 

While increasing web traffic is important, understanding who your audience is so you can actually convert them into a potential client is better. How do you figure out who is visiting your website and convert them to clients? After they arrive on your website from a social media ad, ask them to join your newly created newsletter to continue the conversation.

Have you tried email marketing? Let us know your thoughts on social media! 

Source: architectmagazine.com

If you’re a licensed Architect in one of the following states, your license renewal deadline is December 31st! 

  • Alabama
  • Delaware
  • Kentucky
  • Missouri
  • North Carolina
  • New Mexico
  • Ohio
  • Texas
  • West Virginia
  • Arkansas
  • Florida
  • Louisiana
  • Montana
  • Nebraska (L -Z)
  • Nevada
  • Oregon
  • Utah
  • Wyoming

To view all state approved continuing education course packages, start by choosing your state!

LARA Issues Warning Against Scam Targeting Michigan Architects

This month, the Michigan Bureau of Professional Licensing (BPL) within the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) announced that there has been a scam going around targeting architect licensees. 

If you’ve received any emails or text messages that claim to be associated with the Michigan government and they request sensitive personal information - this is a scam.

Here are some ways to keep your personal information safe:

  1. Do not trust unsolicited requests for any personal information. LARA will not contact you directly asking for personal information, and their official correspondence always includes a contact number or email address.

  2. Do not respond to or open hyperlinks in emails or text messages requesting to “validate your personal data.” If there are any hyperlinks in the email, check the link or URL before clicking. LARA websites always have the “Michigan.gov” domain name.

  3. Do not share your licensing, personal, or financial information over the telephone or via text message with a purported representative of the Department. Contact LARA at BPLHelp@michigan.gov or 517-241-0199 to verify if the Department is requesting any information from you.

  4. If you suspect fraud, report it immediately online to BPLHelp@michigan.gov. 

After following these steps to protect your information, don’t forget to ensure you stay licensed by completing your continuing education before October 31st! View our state-approved online course packages below.


Check out our on-demand continuing education courses by choosing your state below.

New for 2020: Illinois Architect License Renewal Requirement

Illinois Architects, there is a new requirement for your license renewal that came into effect on January 1st, 2020. In addition to the required 24-hours of continuing education (including 16-hours of HSW), all Illinois license holders must now take one hour of sexual harassment prevention training.

Because of this new requirement, our 1-hour Understanding and Preventing Sexual Harassment course is now available in our 24-Hour Illinois AIA continuing education course package!

Here’s a preview of what is covered in the course:

COURSE DESCRIPTION

This one-hour course will provide learners with an understanding of sexual harassment, forms of harassment, reporting procedures for harassment, and employer responsibility and liability in the prevention of sexual harassment. Extensive examples, scenarios, and case studies are included for real-world applications.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

Learners will:

  • Recognize sexual harassment forms and types
  • Understand reporting procedures for harassment
  • Acquire knowledge of whistleblower protections
  • Apply class concepts to scenarios and examples

If you have any questions about your license renewal requirements, give us a call!


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How Tiny Houses Bring Opportunity for Architects

The “tiny house” trend, for some architects, may not seem like a good place to flex their creative muscles. When you hear about tiny houses and their recent rise in popularity, something like what’s pictured below may come to mind. A “box on wheels” that’s simple, utilitarian, and boring.

basic tiny house design

image from tinyhomebuilders.com

But there are many ways in which tiny houses present great opportunities for architects. Whether it’s crafting “tiny luxury” or working to improve access to affordable housing - the versatility of tiny homes is something architects should be noticing.

Finding Beauty in Sustainability and Flexibility

In her recent article for ArchDaily, Susanna Moreira shows that tiny houses can be both sustainable and beautiful. With the lack of excavation to build a foundation needed for wheeled tiny houses, they leave their surroundings undisturbed. Having virtually no environmental footprint means these tiny homes can rest in locations where traditional home building is impossible or impractical.

This flexibility brings endless design opportunities for architects. If a customer wants to live in an area special to them, but is unable to build a traditional home there - a beautiful tiny house could be the solution.

CABN tiny house in forest

This CABN tiny home creates a place to appreciate its surroundings without getting in the way.

CABN Tiny House

Tiny Houses can present many design opportunities for Architects

One example of this “off the grid” living comes from CABN in Australia. CABN’s goal is to provide people with a “means to disconnect from the crazy we have brought upon ourselves.” Their eco-friendly tiny houses are set right in the middle of some of Australia’s “most stunning and stimulating landscapes.” Being able to work in such spaces creates a world of possibilities for architects. With tiny houses, their designs are not as limited by the context of its environment as their massive, earth disrupting “normal house” cousins.

Creating Efficient, Affordable Housing

But as you know, the beauty of architecture is that it’s not only about beauty. It can create safe, sustainable work or living spaces that improve the lives of people all over the world.

Affordable housing is a global issue. It’s projected that 1.6 billion people will lack adequate housing by 2025 if nothing more is done to solve the crisis. “Adequate” housing, according to Eduardo Souza, means more than just a roof over someone’s head. It means a person’s home is integrated with the city, jobs, infrastructure, and city services.

Emerald Village Eugene (EVE) an Oregon-based tiny house community focused on providing quality, affordable housing for lower-income individuals and families. Each tiny house is designed as a 160 - 288 sq ft permanent dwelling on a slab foundation. Thanks to mostly private donations, EVE has been able to construct all 22 homes for about $55,000 per unit (including land). Many local architects contributed to this project, who created designs that don’t forget about style despite the space constraints.

Arbor South Architecture EVE Tiny House Floor Plan

Floor plan by Arbor South Architecture, PC

Completed Arbor South Architecture Tiny House

Completed Arbor South Architecture Tiny House in EVE Community

“Tiny Houses are unlikely to be the solution to the global housing crisis,” Souza says, “but they certainly have a role to play by providing an opportunity for improved quality of life through a smaller financial and ecological footprint.”

What do you think about tiny houses? Have you wanted to try designing one? Let us know on social media!


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Michigan Architect Spotlight: The Value of Inspiring Future Leaders

At Architects Training Institute, we value more than simply keeping licenses up-to-date through continuing education. We also care about how architects use their skills to help educate and inspire others to make a positive difference in their local communities. That’s why we’d like to highlight Detroit-native Rainy Hamilton Jr., president of Hamilton Anderson Associates (HAA).

Photo of Rainy Hamilton Jr.

Rainy Hamilton Jr. Photo © Ernest Sisson

While the original Architectural Record article focused a lot of attention on HAA’s Detroit-heavy project portfolio, we’d like to spotlight Mr. Hamilton’s dedication to lifting up a new generation of architects, specifically women and people of color.

After creating a positive reputation for HAA by doing work they thought “was meaningful in Detroit,” Hamilton continued to build up his local community in a different way. HAA actively works to ensure that its leadership includes BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) men and women. “I am focused on bringing people on and allowing them to grow as much and as fast as they want,” says Hamilton. “I want to groom our people to be able to run their own practice one day.”

Group Photo of Hamilton Anderson Associates

Hamilton Anderson Associates. Photo © Ernest Sisson

When speaking to young designers, Hamilton encourages them to “learn all aspects of what an architecture practice has to do to be in business.” Hamilton attributes his detail-oriented nature to his father, who started a successful landscaping company. He remembers the care his father took, even with out-of-the-way corners of a yard that might go unseen.

We applaud Rainy Hamilton and HAA for not only aiding in the effort to revitalize Detroit, but also making sure young designers can learn, grow, and someday create positive changes in their own communities with their own firms.

What are some ways you try to use your work to create positive changes in your community? Let us know on social media! And a reminder to Michigan Architects, your license renewal deadline is October 31st! View our CE course package options below!


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Here’s How Architects Are Pushing for Safer Design Policies

Architects and Designers Urge Action on Healthier Policy Priorities

In the wake of the pandemic, designers and architects are inventing new solutions for nearly every sector of design. According to the World Health Organization, 19% of factors that affect our health and well-being are directly related to the built environment, making architects and designers key to protecting public health.

Metropolis Magazine recently wrote about three recent initiatives that introduce new building standards to help mitigate COVID-19 exposure and create healthier (and more sustainable) spaces during and after the current pandemic.

Built Environment Experts Petition the WHO, Urging Enhanced Guidance on the Role of Buildings in Addressing COVID-19

In a recent petition, more than 790 architects, engineers, and interior designers from over 50 countries have joined forces in a statement to Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, urging the WHO to advance best practices in indoor environments to protect from the spread of COVID-19.

“If the WHO recommends best practice air standards now before vaccines and therapeutic solutions are available, it will have a strong effect towards raising the public’s awareness of places where they spend time,” the statement reads, noting that air pollution affects our most vulnerable populations.

Approximately 70 percent of The Ng Teng Fong General Hospital by HOK is naturally ventilated, representing 82 percent of inpatient beds. The building uses 38 percent less energy than a typical Singaporean hospital and 69 percent less than a typical US hospital. Courtesy Rory Daniel

So far, the petition has gained the signatures of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), and the World Green Building Council, to name a few. “We hope that this global call to action will demonstrate that our buildings, our businesses, and our communities can be at the frontlines of this fight if we deploy them wisely,” says Rachel Gutter, president, IWBI.

USGBC Creates New LEED Safety First Pilot Credits + Healthy Economy Commitment

Back in June, the U.S. Green Building Council released guidance to address the pandemic and support buildings with reopening strategies. Four new Safety First Pilot Credits outline best practices that are both sustainable and align with public health guidelines related to cleaning, re-occupancy, HVAC, and plumbing operations. The credits are a part of a USGBC strategy released in May titled, Healthy People in Healthy Places Equals a Healthy Economy.

“These new credits are a first step in helping the building and construction industry demonstrate its commitment to sustainable strategies as part of building a healthier, more resilient future,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, president & CEO of USGBC in a recent press release.

In addition to the credits, the USGBC also released a Healthy Economy Commitment, urging public health officials and elected leaders to take action on green building policy priorities.

AIA Launches Policy Platform 2020

Earlier this month, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) launched the inaugural Policy Platform 2020 that serves as a statement on the organization’s policy priorities for U.S. presidential candidates and Congress.

Embodying the idea of “Building a Healthy America,” the platform focuses on three key areas: Economy, Climate Action, and Healthy and Equitable Communities. Committing to zero carbon practices, rejoining the Paris Climate Accord, promoting toxin-free living in affordable housing, and strengthening water and air quality policy are a few highlights.

“AIA supports strong and unequivocal policies that ensure that urgent climate change issues, including those that disproportionately impact communities of color, are immediately addressed,” stated AIA EVP and chief executive officer Robert Ivy, in an August 6th official press release.

*The full version of this article was originally published on Metropolismag.com


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Design Ideas for Safer, Post-Pandemic Schools

While many people are currently considering whether or not schools should open this fall, let's take a step back and look toward the future of education spaces. These design proposals, shown in ArchDaily, give a glimpse of what post-pandemic schools might look like.

Many new designs revolve around a common goal: increasing sustainability, emotional wellness, and physical health by creating more space for learning - especially outdoors. For New York-based design firm Cooper Robertson, blurring the lines between the indoors and outdoors essential for post-covid learning.

For their work on the Lyford Cay International Baccalaureate School in Nassau, Bahamas, Cooper Robertson prioritized creating learning environments with better access to light, fresh air, and outdoor space. The main building is only one room wide, creating cross ventilation for all interior spaces, with 12-foot-wide verandas that flank each classroom to expand floor space into the outdoors. The campus also features a dedicated outdoor classroom space.

Layford Cay Concept: Image from Cooper Robertson

Recently, the Brooklyn Laboratory Charter Schools (LAB) and the Urban Projects Collaborative (UPC) partnered with six New York-based architecture firms to create the "Back to School Facilities Tool Kit.” In this toolkit, the six firms proposed design ideas that “allow for proper physical distancing and a safe journey from home to school.” The most effective ideas will move forward through design, construction, and installation in preparation for occupancy.

Integrating new requirements for health and safety, the guidelines will become a resource for schools to create fair, equitable plans to reopen their doors, while protecting the well-being of all students, teachers, staff, and their families.

Ideas from the tool kit include ways to improve the school entry process, and new classroom layouts that support social distancing.

Classroom Concepts from the Tool Kit. Image from ArchDaily

How would you improve the layout of schools or any public building to make it safer for today and the future? Let us know on social media!


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