Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Build Back Better Recommendations for the Built Environment

Siegel & Strain Architects joined more than 130 leading companies in the AEC industry in recommending immediate actions the Biden @WhiteHouse can take to combat #ClimateChange in their first 100 days in office. The letter landed on the right desk: Gina McCarthy, the White House National Climate Advisor, responded within 45 minutes to acknowledge all of the great ideas. Larry Strain helped draft the existing building section and there is work being organized around the topics in the letter. 


February 19, 2021

The Honorable Ms. Gina McCarthy
National Climate Advisor
The Honorable Mr. David J. Hayes
Special Assistant to the President for Climate Policy
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Ms. McCarthy and Mr. Hayes:

Thank you both for agreeing to receive this letter. The Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) Leaders are an ad-hoc association of the nation’s most respected design, engineering and construction firms. We look forward to bringing our collective expertise to bear on the cross-agency built environment challenges and transformations that are foundational to the Biden-Harris Build Back Better plan.

The signatories here comprise 130+ organizations from across the country who provide design, engineering and construction services throughout the country and around the world. We are heartened by the capable and principled team you have put in place to not only provide leadership on climate and environmental justice, but to once again put the Federal Government in the role of accelerating real progress. Thank you for the climate action you have taken on your first days in office! The building sector actions we suggest below are necessary to achieve President Biden’s goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Globally, nearly 30% of greenhouse gas emissions come from operating buildings while an additional 11% of emissions are embodied carbon from building products and construction. Our industry’s work must move beyond simply net zero energy to net zero carbon, in order to deal with the full emissions picture. While combating climate change, we are also dedicated to transforming our communities for the better by addressing critical public health, water, material toxicity, and social equity challenges. We appreciate the Biden-Harris Administration’s strong statements on climate and environmental justice. To put these principles into action, our letter below outlines steps we encourage the Administration to prioritize to begin seeing positive impacts in the built environment sector within your first 100 days.

We would also like to underscore the importance of publicly available scientific data and tools from departments such as the EPA, NOAA and DOE that are critical to our work. The databases and tools that these Agencies and Departments have developed over many years have been invaluable to our industry (and many others) and should be restored and even expanded for the important work that lies ahead in the coming decades.

We assure you that the AEC industry is ready for the Federal Government’s leadership in this area. Your administration is in a unique position to accelerate market transformation and provide clear and consistent guidance and standards for a range of industries. Our group stands ready to be a resource for your team to help convey the positive impact that your sustainability and resilience policies can have on our industry and to promote their effective implementation. Thank you for your dedicated work and your consideration.

Our specific recommendations appear below, in these categories:

1 Enhance Federal Building Standards
2 Stimulate Building Reuse and Upgrades
3 Promote Healthy Housing and Resilient Communities
4 Electrify to Achieve a Carbon-Free Grid
5 Promote Material Health and Product Transparency
6 Promote Healthy Schools for All

[View the complete text of the recommendations, the signatory organizations, and the entire document here.]