American Institute of Architects California Named an U.S. Green Building Council California 2024 Policy Leadership Award Recipient Organization recognized for driving California’s adoption of embodied carbon limits in its building




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American Institute of Architects California Named an U.S. Green Building Council California 2024 Policy Leadership Award Recipient

Organization recognized for driving California’s adoption of embodied carbon limits in its building code, the first state in the nation to do so—taking an essential step to reduce this significant contributor of greenhouse gas emissions.
Contact: Tibby Rothman, Hon. AIA|LA

(Sacramento, CaliforniaMay 29, 2024)–The American Institute of Architects California (AIA California) has been awarded a U.S. Green Building Council California (USGBC-CA) 2024 Policy Leadership Award for the organization’s actions that resulted in the State of California being the first state in the nation to adopt standards that limit embodied carbon. AIA CA was recognized along with its partner, the California Building Standards Commission.

Buildings Embodied carbon refers to greenhouse gas emissions arising from building materials over their life cycle, which includes manufacture, transportation, installation, maintenance, decommissioning, and disposal. Roughly forty percent of greenhouse gas emissions arise from buildings; reducing embodied as well as the more well-known operational carbon is imperative as the climate crisis continues to escalate.

“AIA California hopes that our work addressing the climate crisis will further catalyze elected officials and policymakers to take the urgent steps to address the climate disaster,” said 2024 AIA California President Winston L. Thorne, AIA. “Climate action is an AIA California core value. As the United Nations has noted, July 2023 was the hottest month ever recorded. We cannot waste time. As an entity, we will continue to advocate for policies in this area; as individuals, our members will continue to use tools that reduce climate emissions in the construction and operation of buildings.”

During the summer of 2023 the California Building Standards Commission voted unanimously for two building code changes that limit embodied carbon emissions in the construction, remodel, or adaptive reuse of commercial buildings larger than 100,000 sq feet and school projects over 50,000 sq ft. These changes go into effect on July 1, 2024, statewide.

To make these standards possible, the Commission also approved code approaches in the CALGreen code by which architects can achieve these goals: Environmental Products Declaration, Life Cycle Assessment, and Adaptive Reuse; facilitating three different pathways to embodied carbon reduction.

“We have awarded AIA California and the Building Standards Commission around this approach to embodied carbon as it sets an important precedent to raise awareness and make a market for a more circular economy in California and beyond,” said USGBC-CA Executive Director Ben Stapleton.

The California Building Standards Commission’s 2023 decision was the culmination of AIA California and partner efforts that began in 2019.

Partnerships spanned from key state agencies such as the California Building Standards Commission and the Division of the State Architect, who also led the culmination of stakeholders that founded the CALGreen Carbon Reduction Collaborative, to invaluable, expert organizations such as New Buildings Institute, RMI, the Carbon Leadership Forum, Energy Solutions, SF Environment and of course, USGBC California—all of whom were instrumental in supporting and working with AIA California on the code development process.

Helming AIA California activities in the initiative were Mike Malinowski, FAIA, AIA California’s Code Consultant, who brought together the many entities required for the exceedingly complex and impactful task.

About AIA California
AIA California is dedicated to serving its members, and uniting all architecture professionals in the design of a more just, equitable, and resilient future through advocacy, education, and political action. It celebrates more than 75 years of service and, today, is composed of more than 11,000 members across the state.

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