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Defining zero emission buildings will help create consistent, standardized, and measurable factors to help architects reduce building emissions


WASHINGTON, D.C. – The American Institute of Architects (AIA) is commending the Biden-Harris Administration for developing a National Definition of a Zero-Emission Building for Operating Emissions. Defining zero emission buildings will help create consistent, standardized, and measurable factors that will help architects reduce building emissions.

“A national definition that can be applied consistently and is standardized for new construction and existing buildings will serve as a framework for the industry, so that users, such as architects, can achieve measurable reduction in the operating emissions for buildings – both new and existing,” said 2024 American Institute of Architects President Kimberly Dowdell. “AIA members have been providing input to the Administration through the development of the definition and will continue to do so as this process moves forward.”

While AIA applauds the Administration’s efforts to achieve zero emissions for buildings through multiple pathways allowing for flexibility, Dowdell says, the Administration does not address the organization’s intent for the definition, which would better clarify the framework and implementation strategy. In the response to the Request for Information issued, AIA developed comments with member feedback that emphasized clarification is needed on whether the Administration’s intent is to incorporate the definition in future guidance or financial incentives. A national definition also needs to include the definition and scope of the buildings covered – commercial, multifamily and/or single family, says Dowdell. Different requirements will be needed to ensure zero emissions are achieved for commercial buildings versus multifamily versus single family structures.

AIA is committed to its continued support of the Administration’s efforts to aggressively drive zero emissions goals for buildings, Dowdell says, and eagerly awaits the finalization of the definition and future parts such as embodied carbon or whole life emissions.