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American Institute of Architects 2015 Portland Architecture Awards

6 November 2015 | Posted By John Jennings 2,563 views No Comment

At the annual, newly retitled, Portland Architecture Awards on October 30 the national jury including Sierra Bainbridge of MASS Design Group, Betsy Williamson of Williamson Chong and Kevin Daly, of Kevin Daly Architects announced the winner of an award newly integrated into the more traditional AIA awards for architecture. They awarded a combined Architecture 2030 Award and Merit Award to Courtyard Housing by Hacker. This 30-unit apartment building on SE Division Street in Portland has an outstanding energy performance with an EUI of 18 and it also achieved LEED Platinum for Homes.

Only three of the 78 qualifying projects met the newly increased 2030 Challenge target of 70%. These included the Trimet Parking Garage at the end of the new Orange line in Milwaukie designed by GBD Architects; the renovation and addition of Allen Hall at the University of Oregon by Yost Grube Hall Architecture with TBG Architects+Planners; and the still unbuilt Yellowstone Youth Campus by  Hennebery Eddy Architects.  Six other projects exceeded the previous reduction target of 60%. Hats off to Opsis Architecture for bringing in 3 of them.

  • PCC Cascade Student Union and Cascade Hall by Hacker
  • 43rd & Division by Works Partnership Architecture
  • Reed College Performing Arts Building by Opsis Architecture
  • John J. Hemmingson Center at Gonzaga University by Opsis Architecture with Bernardo Wills Architects
  • Straub Hall Renovation & Classroom Addition (University of Oregon) by Opsis Architecture
  • Jefferson County Courthouse by DLR Group

2015 is a very important year for leadership on climate change! Ed Mazria, Pope Francis, and President Obama have all been on the stage this year making big splashes on climate change. The question before us is how AIA Portland and their members will continue to challenge each other and themselves to be a part of the solution?

The 2030 Challenge and AIA Portland 

–          Ed Mazria launched the 2030 Challenge in 2007 to compel the architecture profession to take a leadership position on addressing climate change

–          AIA Portland (and AIA Portland member firms) took the lead in adopting the 2030 Challenge in 2008

–          AIA Portland added the 2030 award as an optional award in 2008.

–          Starting in 2009 through 2014, the calculations on energy and carbon reduction have been mandatory for submittal to the design awards. However, the award process was run separately by the local Committee on the Environment (AIA COTE) with Ed Mazria and Architecture 2030 staff serving as the jury.

–          This year, AIA Portland integrated the energy and carbon calculations into the Portland Architecture Awards program selection process and the jury awarded a 2030 Award as part of the regular set of awards.

2015 Has Been Busy for Climate Change: 

–          The 2030 Challenge target increased to 70% reduction.

–          June:  At the AIA National conference in Atlanta, Georgia this year, Ed Mazria was given the Kemper Award, awarded annually to an architect who has contributed significantly to the profession through service to the AIA

–          July:  Pope Francis released his 192-page encyclical on climate change—stressing that 1) climate change is real and getting worse, 2) human beings are the major contributor, 3) it will disproportionally affect the poor, 4) we can and must make things better, and 5) individuals can help, but politicians must lead

–          August:  Obama unveils major climate change proposal to be enacted by executive order

–          September/October:  AIA Portland educational series, “Getting to Zero”, specifically aimed at helping projects respond to the 2030 Challenge—one of many AIA Portland educational offerings

–          October: AIA Portland elevates 2030 Challenge Award to a jury-selected Architecture Award. This award will replace the separate 2030 Challenge Awards and the Sustainability Award

–          December: Still to come, United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Paris – the year for action?


Lackluster 2015 Results

–          2015 submittals included the fewest number of 2030 Challenge compliant projects (3 out of 78)

–          On the other hand 9 projects exceeded the previous 60% reduction target.

Less than half the 2015 submittals had any reductions to report – either because they were built just

–          to code minimum or had no engineering calculations, energy model, or actual data

–          The 2015 average reduction across all projects submitted was 35%, down from 43% last year — we are not seeing a continuing positive trend over the past 8 years and have yet to have a single year where we hit 50% reduction, the initial target when the 2030 Challenge launched.

What Now?

It seems clear that even with high levels of attendance at this year’s AIA Getting to Zero series and after several years of delivery of the AIA+2030 series something beyond technical training is needed. Perhaps the business case has not been made to the clients or the design firms. Perhaps the urgency of the issue has not risen to a high enough priority. Or maybe it was the dramatic rise to 70% reduction that reduced the ranks of complying projects. For their part, both AIA Portland’s COTE and the current AIA leadership plan to redouble their effort. Key sponsors like NEEA/BetterBricks and the Energy Trust of Oregon are here to help as well. And Advisory resources are available through both the Energy Trust and the Energy Studies in Buildings Lab at the University of Oregon supported by BetterBricks.

Let’s hope Portland’s design firms return to the leadership in sustainability they have been known for and deliver many qualifying projects to next year’s awards program.

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