This article breakdowns sections of the AIA Code of Ethics (2020) which discusses an architect's professional responsibility and building performance analysis.

The AIA Code of Ethics (2020) cements the architect's professional responsibility to protect the environment in Canon VI, Obligations to the Environment: "Members should recognize and acknowledge the professional responsibilities they have to promote sustainable design and development in the natural and built environments and to implement energy and resource-conscious design." The Code highlights the ethical standards for energy conservation, water use, building materials, ecosystems, and climate change in the canon, as summarized in Rule 6.501:

"Members shall consider with their clients the environmental effects of their project decisions."

This responsibility is not a new addition to the Code of Ethics, and as an organization, the AIA has continued to expand its push towards a greener, more sustainable built environment through initiatives like the AIA 2030 Commitment, COTE, and other outreach programs. On top of that, the AIA continues to position energy modeling and analysis-driven sustainable design as a key aspect of the evolving practice of architecture.

In fact, the AIA has released statements and published articles reiterating the professional responsibility of architects to "prioritize and support effective actions" to combat climate change, as stated in a September 2019 "Where We Stand" statement. The AIA also encourages its members to leverage benefits of energy modeling for both design teams and clients, work towards meeting and managing the expanding code requirements, integrate energy modeling into the day-to-day workflow in a firm, and aim for meeting framework guidelines for design excellence in energy and energy conservation. Two great AIA resources to check out now are:

The Professional Standard of Care

The solid basis of expectation and responsibility from the AIA helps to shape the expected practice of its member architects. The professional standard of care, as printed in B101 - 2107, section 2.2, holds architects to a level of professional practice that would be delivered by another member architect under similar circumstances. It states:

"The Architect shall perform its services consistent with the professional skill and care ordinarily provided by architects practicing in the same or similar locality under the same or similar circumstances."

As more restrictive and comprehensive energy codes and building performance standards (BPS) come into effect, architects must shift their focus onto integrating energy modeling, design workflows, and new methodologies into their process in order to protect themselves from liability as well as work to steward the built environment. In the AIA's article on BPS and risk management, it is explicitly stated that the architect "should employ the tools and resources that a reasonably prudent architect or design professional would employ."

Utilizing tools for energy modeling and performance analysis as a standard service provides many benefits. More efficient designs lead to lower operational costs for owners and greater occupant satisfaction. Employing analysis tools earlier and often helps control revision costs, limit revision time, and manage team expectations throughout the project. Additionally, liability, especially as it relates to BPS requirements and the standard of care, can also be limited using even basic energy modeling.

Standard of Care in Climate Change Mitigation and cove.tool

Climate change mitigation is an urgent issue, and the AIA encourages its members to engage in education, energy modeling, and policy-making to impact the world around them. cove.tool can help integrate building energy modeling, data-driven design, and cost-versus-energy savings into pre-existing workflows. With varying levels of analysis within the tool, teams can work to select the best option for each project in order to meet the requirements of owners, codes, and standards, or professional obligations.

Happy modeling!


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