Ignoring Sustainability Now Considered Unethical, According to the AIA

Architect Drawing

Architects face many challenges when designing for today’s growing world population, especially when it comes to the environment and sustainability. With the recent changes and rollbacks in environmental laws and regulations, some environmental standards in the United States have loosened considerably. But even with these changes, creating environmentally responsible and sustainable buildings is more important than ever.

According to the AIA’s newest updates, ignoring sustainability considerations is not just bad practice but it’s considered downright unethical. The AIA Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct now state that AIA members should recognize and acknowledge their responsibility to promote sustainable design and development in natural and built environments. This includes being energy- and resource-conscious when designing buildings. 

Let’s take a look at the updates for “Obligations to the Environment” and learn more about each area. You can download a PDF of the AIA’s official document here.


Energy Conservation

Green Building Blurred

Members should set ambitious performance goals for greenhouse gas emission reduction with their clients for each project.

According to Architect Magazine, buildings emit almost half of the carbon dioxide in the U.S. and consume roughly 40 percent of the energy. That’s why architects have an increased level of responsibility when talking to their clients about the importance of energy conservation.  

Net Zero Energy Buildings are gaining popularity, and there is mounting evidence that zero energy can often be achieved within typical construction budgets. At Kingspan our pledge to sustainability is practiced at every level of the company, from our own buildings to our manufacturing processes. Check out our journey to become a Net Zero Energy company by 2020.

Water Use

Members should optimize water conservation in each project to reduce water use and protect water supply, water quality and watershed resources.

Globally, over 80 percent of all wastewater is released back into the environment without being treated or reused, and roughly 1.9 billion people currently live in potentially severely water-scarce areas. As water quality and availability becomes an ever-increasing global concern, it’s imperative for the entire industry to work together so buildings account for proper water management and conservation.

At Kingspan we are continuously developing new water management solutions, including wastewater, surface water and rainwater harvesting. We even offer a diverse range of innovative and 100% compliant wastewater treatment solutions for commercial and industrial applications.

Building Materials

metro city overview

Members should select and use building materials to minimize exposure to toxins and pollutants in the environment to promote environmental and human health and to reduce waste and pollution.

Using Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and LEED-certified products ensures you are selecting materials that have been sourced and manufactured without the use of harmful chemicals. These products have not emitted dangerous toxins during manufacturing and won’t impact the indoor environment once installed.


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.

The best way to prepare your clients for climate change is to educate them about the importance of resilient design. Resilient design is the intentional design of buildings, landscapes, communities and regions to respond to natural and manmade disasters and disturbances, including long-term climate changes.

Consider Environmental Effects

Members shall consider with their clients the environmental effects of their project decisions.

It goes without saying that to fully adhere to the ethical standards in each of these areas, your client’s involvement is very important. Make time to meet with your client for the sole purpose of discussing their building’s potential to impact the environment and the health of the individuals who work in or near the building.

Regardless of what the current national laws, standards and regulations state, designing with sustainability in mind should always be a common practice. And with the right planning and selection of building materials, it can be cost-saving to both you and your client.

Want to learn more about the future of building design? Click here to see Kingspan's current innovations that will revolutionize the way you think about sustainability and architecture.

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