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


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

Looking Forward: Architecture in a Post COVID-19 World

In an effort to give you a break from the negative news cycle, we want to look forward toward the future and the many possibilities it brings for architects.

In recent weeks, the Moving Forward Act has made its way through Congress. Late last month, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) announced their support of the bill. AIA President Jane Frederick said “Passing the Moving Forward Act is a necessary next step that we must take as a nation in order to deliver the opportunities that American workers—including architects—desperately need.”

The proposal allocates billions of dollars for infrastructure improvements such as:

  • The Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Act, which would provide funding for improvements to school infrastructure, especially those in high-poverty areas, and upgrading child-care facilities.
  • Encourage the rehabilitation of historic buildings through the temporary increase of the Historic Tax Credit
  • Improve affordable housing infrastructure by creating and preserving 1.8 million affordable homes
  • Establish a new Neighborhood Investment tax credit that would subsidize certain development costs to encourage the rehabilitation of vacant homes or construction of new homes in distressed areas

As architects, you’re responsible for much more than just designing safe and beautiful structures; your work can make a positive difference in communities around the country. The schools you help build or renovate (especially in lower income areas) bring opportunities for success that weren’t possible before. Working to increase affordable housing works toward lowering homeless rates and gives families a sense of security.

When it comes time to rebuild the nation (financially and literally), we are proud to help architects like you make positive changes in your local community.


Is it almost time to renew your license?

The following states have continuing education deadlines approaching:

7/31/20 - WI

8/31/20 - MA

10/31/20 - MI

11/31/20 - IL

12/31/20 - AL, AR, DE, FL, KY, LA, MO, MT, NC, NE (L-Z), NM, NV, OH, OR, TX, UT, WV, WY

MONTHLY - ID, MD, NH, NY, SD, TN, VA, WA


DO YOU NEED STATE APPROVED CONTINUING EDUCATION?

Thermoset Technology – Stronger & Lighter Than Steel

Stronger and lighter than steel, Thermoset technology may be the future of architecture. According to an article by Arch Daily, this revolutionary material solves many common structural and construction problems while simultaneously allowing architects a new freedom with their designs.

Originally created as aerospace technology, advanced fiber-reinforced materials are now being used in the manufacturing of new buildings, opening new and exciting design possibilities for architects.

Makers of these materials can manufacture building components off-site, and the light-weight material is then shipped to the construction site where it can be put together quickly and easily by smaller crews of contractors, thus cutting down on construction costs.

Additionally, the strength of Thermoset materials far out-weighs steel, by nearly 6 times. This strength has immense applications for building considerations, allowing for more structural freedom while still providing protection from environmental hazards like earthquakes.

Another benefit is that these materials can be molded into literally any shape, giving architects open concept freedom when it comes to building design--fantastic shapes can be brought to life on a huge scale while still maintaining structural integrity. The possibilities are quite literally endless.


AIA & State-Approved Online Architect Continuing Education

Get Started Today!


Pepperdine’s Architecture And Fire Safety

Pepperdine has developed a shelter-in-place policy with close collaboration with the Los Angeles County Fire Department that allows students to remain on campus for a range of disasters, including the Woolsey Fire that hit California last fall.

The policy was developed after a close encounter with a wild fire in 1985 and has been implemented for every fire since 1993. Another key reason that Pepperdine took more preventative measures was how close they are to the Pacific Coast Highway. If Malibu residents are ordered an evacuation, gridlock becomes a big issue especially since a lot of students may not have vehicles.

Pepperdine’s best defense against wild fires is the campus design itself. Its architect was William Pereira, who was based in Los Angeles. Pereira was commissioned to create a master plan for Malibu in 1965, but the plan was never made public. Instead he was able revisit his ideas with Pepperdine years later when they gave him the opportunity.

Curbed describes the campus as “Mediterranean modern: angular cast-concrete volumes situated around wide concrete plazas with spectacular ocean vistas.” The campus structures make good use of fire-resistant decorative materials like glass and ceramic. Even the shape of the buildings with steep Spanish-tile rooflines helps ensure that fire won’t get trapped beneath the eaves. Of Pepperdine’s 830 acres—500 acres have no structure. Pereira’s vision for the campus included dense clustering of buildings to maintain open spaces. He also preserved a meadow and designed a water infrastructure to recycle waste water and store it on site.


AIA & State-Approved Online Architect Continuing Education

Get Started Today!


Mercedes-Benz Stadium Lead By LEED Example

The Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home of the Atlanta Falcons and United FC, is part of the moving trend of stadiums focusing their operations on greener sustainability and energy. The stadium scored a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) of 88 out of a potential 110 and earned a Platinum certification.

LEED is the most widely used green building rating system and helps provide a framework for efficient green buildings. They are recognized globally for sustainability achievement.  Points are awarded to builders for including efficient features like lighting and water fixtures, locating the structure near public transportation, and using locally sourced and recycled materials.

The Mercedes-Benz stadium holds up to 680,000 gallons of rainwater collected by a 120 foot-long cistern. The runoff is used to irrigate the building’s vegetation and helps reduce flooding of a nearby low-lying West End neighborhood. Scott Jenkins, general manager for the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, says “It’s a community play as much as an environmental play, to do our part around issues in the neighborhood. If you looked at the return on investment for the water, it will take a long time to pay off. But some of this is good for business and some are good for the community.”

More and more sports stadiums and arenas are installing solar panels, LED lighting and scoreboards, as well as energy efficient air-conditioning. Today’s sports stadiums are shining a light on the complex and critical issues of climate change. Stadiums and arenas have physical and cultural prominence and help fans gain exposure to green initiatives like LED lighting or low-flush toilets.


NEED AIA APPROVED ARCHITECT CONTINUING EDUCATION?