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Architects Need a Voice at the Statehouse to Protect and Improve the Built Environment

by: Jason Shelley, Hon. AIA, Executive Director of AIA Indiana
(Left to right) AIA Indiana Executive Director Jason Shelley, Hon. AIA and State Senator Mark Messmer (R - Jasper), Majority Floor Leader.
(Left to right) AIA Indiana Executive Director Jason Shelley, Hon. AIA and State Senator Mark Messmer (R - Jasper), Majority Floor Leader.
AIA Indiana Executive Director Jason Shelley, Hon. AIA leading a discussion on an AIA Indiana Day at the Statehouse in the gallery of the House of Representatives.
AIA Indiana Executive Director Jason Shelley, Hon. AIA leading a discussion on an AIA Indiana Day at the Statehouse in the gallery of the House of Representatives.
The call came late on December 28, 2017. Then-Governor Mike Pence signed an executive order to extend Indiana’s energy code for one more year. It was the best Christmas gift I could have hoped for. As Executive Director of the American Institute of Architects of Indiana (AIA), we worked in partnership with the state fire marshal, fire chiefs, and other design, engineering, and construction leaders to convince the governor to extend our energy code.

The code was set to expire on December 31 of that year. If the code had expired, it would have created havoc for Hoosiers. Without an energy code in place, unscrupulous builders could get away with building structures that may not be safe or efficient, meaning higher energy costs and potential safety issues for tenants.

Governor Eric Holcomb extended those codes for another seven years in 2018. Rest assured; the American Institute of Architects Indiana will continue to lobby for improved building codes.

Architects regularly testify at the Indiana Statehouse to advocate for solutions that impact the built environment. Chances are good this legislative session that you’re more likely to find me at the Statehouse than the AIA offices, as I meet with legislators and their staffs. We discuss the value of good design, why we need to invest in updating old buildings and preserve historic structures. Unfortunately, design often is taken for granted.

Good design can help create safer schools and healthier buildings. Good design can reduce energy costs and provide economic growth opportunities for communities. That’s why it’s so important that architects, engineers, and contractors have a voice in local, state, and national legislation.

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AIA supports:

  • 2030 net zero energy goals, which AIA helped the federal government establish in 2007.
  • Streamlined building permit and review processes that protects a building’s integrity while also keeping costs down and minimize delays.
  • Rigorous standards for architectural licensing, which protects the health, safety and welfare of those who live, work and visit buildings.
  • Selection processes based on qualifications, not just price. AIA believes just like you wouldn’t want to choose a surgeon based on lowest costs, schools and government entities shouldn’t be bound to choose design professionals based solely on cost.
  • Livable, healthy communities with safe sidewalks, access to healthy food, greenspace, culture, recreation, access to affordable housing and transportation.
  • A business environment free of unnecessary taxes for professional services.

Architects are professional problem-solvers. They do so much more than design a building; they figure out how design can make buildings safer, more efficient, and easier to navigate. Design can help businesses attract employees and visitors. Good design can help businesses succeed.

AIA Indiana is working to ensure public policy and legislation makes it possible for all communities to enjoy the benefits good design provides. If you are concerned about the built environment, please join me in talking to your representatives about why good design is essential for Indiana. If you want to follow what AIA Indiana is doing, email jshelley@aiaindiana.org to sign up for our legislative e-newsletter.

Jason Shelley, Hon. AIA, is Executive Director of the American Institute of Architects Indiana, which is focused on advancing society through a diverse, inclusive, and equitable architecture profession by empowering AIA Indiana members.

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