President's Corner

August 4, 2010

Dear Members,

I hope you have all had time or will be taking time for a vacation, however brief that may be. While summer rolls on, so does the recession. Unemployment in the design and construction industry continues to be at an all time high. As you probably know by now, AIA-NJ’s East Coast Green conference is coming up in September on the 16th and 17th, coupled with our annual Design Day. These events are highlighted by high level speakers, multiple CEU opportunities for AIA, USGBC, and IDEC focused on the conference theme of meeting the Architecture 2030 Challenge, and a strong industry exhibit show. What you probably don’t know, is we have been working hand in hand with the USGBC-NJ chapter to host a green jobs career fair prior to the opening of the expo floor on Wednesday, September 15th.

One of the intentions of combining Design Day and the East Coast Green conference at a venue like Atlantic City was to provide a showcase for our profession and our work to the public, building owners, and decision makers, as well as an opportunity to network with our peers. AIA-NJ is very conscious of the current economic times has worked hard this year to provide educational programs that will build skills and expand services. But, the year is only half over and I’m not done being President just yet.

When I came back from Grassroots it was clear we needed to figure out a way to help our members, and those who were not members, struggling in the profession or even to get in to the profession. I began researching what support mechanisms other Chapters across the country offer their members and discussing the creating of a ‘Members-in-Transition’ section of our web site. Serendipitously, I was recently approached by such a member about this very topic. As a result, the Professional Practice Committee, chaired by Chris Ling, in conjunction with our Communications, Large Firm Outreach, and Small Firm Outreach committees, will lead the effort to develop a bundled suite of resources for our members in transition. Initial visions of this suite include professional development seminars on everything from skill building, maintenance, and expansion to personal presentation and resume skills, a job board for Owners to post opportunities as well as a resume board for members to connect with one another and the public, networking opportunities, and study groups to name a few. I am very excited about this effort and believe that the ability to develop and deploy these bundles resources in a timely manner only further demonstrates the value if AIA-NJ to its members and the profession. For more information or to get involved in this evolving effort, please contact the Professional Practice Committee, whose information in available at AIA-NJ’s website.

Lastly, related to the idea of expanding skills, I am extremely pleased to relay, on behalf of our Regional Director Dave DelVecchio, AIA, LEEDap, that the EPA now allows registered architects to complete the Energy Star verification process. Prior to April 1, 2010 only professional engineers were allowed to complete the verification forms to certify performance for an Energy Star project. Thanks to Dave and follow up at AIA National in arguing this point, the EPA has recognized, “the increasingly important role that registered architects are playing in both design and operations of today’s energy efficient buildings.” The full announcement from the EPA is available at AIA-NJ’s website. I think this is a powerful and telling statement of our role in sustainability and a credit to AIA National and AIA-NJ in making architects seen as one of the expects in this area of design.

If you are not familiar with the energy star portfolio manage or target finder website, this is a National EPA program and is considered the benchmark in energy performance in the United States. Much of the information required to be input for Energy Star is directly under the perview of the Architect, such as establishing the number of occupants, size and use type of the building, and areas to be conditioned or not. The remaining information is essentially an upload of 12 months of utility use data provided by the Owner. All of this is fed in to EPA’s data base to determine a rating (1-100) for a building’s energy use. A minimum score of 75 is needed to qualify as an energy star building. Many of you may wonder why this change to allow architects to perform this benchmark and verification is important. The primary reason is this, most projects start with a feasibility study of some kind and with the focus on energy performance, many projects that are moving forward start with benchmarking through energy star these days. It is another tool to help generate work for us and take the lead role as the sustainability experts. Federal and State incentives and grants may also be tied to Energy Star, as well as LEED certification for Existing Building and Homes, making our role in its use a central and necessary tool to the creation, delivery, and management of projects. Please put Energy Star to work for you! If you have any questions regarding this please contact the AIA-NJ Committee on the Environment or visit Energy Star’s web site, and don’t forget to register for East Coast Green if you haven’t already!


Jason Kliwinski, AIA, LEED AP
AIA-NJ President 2010
AIA National Northeast Regional COTE Chair

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