AIA Ethics Code Now Covering Sustainability – Focus On Building Materials

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An op-ed from BuildingGreen president Nadav Malin details an analysis of new changes in AIA Ethics.  You can read an introduction here.

As noted, “Building materials: 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 (Ethical Standard 6.3).”

In the spring of 2018, ARUP developed “Healthier Materials Protocol for Architects and Designers,” a 116-page report that can be downloaded from here.

This report notes “The AIA recognizes that building materials impact the environment and human health before, during, and after their use. Knowledge of the life cycle impacts of building materials is integral to improving the craft, science, and art of architecture. The AIA encourages architects to promote transparency in materials’ contents and in their environmental and human health impacts.”

A much more powerful shift is occurring that changes the emphasis from the exclusion of materials to ensuring good practice in their selection.

The standards for good practice have been published as above, but where do Architects find building materials that “aspire toward good practice”?  Is the mark set at “sustainable” practice or is a shift occurring in awareness of “regenerative” practice?    Contained in the new protocols is this passage: “While this protocol is written from a design perspective, it is intended for everyone working in this field. Designers are key players in evaluating and selecting building materials but designers are far from the only ones who shape the material health outcomes for our projects or our planet.”  If this shift is to occur, then stakeholders in the conversation will have to include manufacturers as participants of “Green Building Task Forces”.  It would be wise to select manufacturers who have implemented regenerative systems and have experience manufacturing regenerative products.

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