2021 Legislative Session Summary

Another legislative session has come to a close. This was an exciting year for AIA Colorado’s advocacy efforts with the passage of HB21-1147: Simplify Architects Continuing Education Requirement. Read on for highlights from the 2021 session, then join members of our Government Affairs Committee at noon on June 30 for a deeper dive on these and other 2021 bills that affect the architecture profession.

Thanks to all the members of our Government Affairs Committee and especially those on the legislative subcommittee. Their expertise and commitment are key to effective advocacy efforts.

HB21-1147: Simplify Architects Continuing Education Requirement

AIA Colorado drafted an update to our practice act to remove the language stating we must demonstrate retention of the information presented in continuing education courses. This means that soon we will no longer have to keep DORA forms or quiz scores for our CE records.

Don’t stop filling out those DORA forms out yet though! This bill won’t go into effect until September and the state AES Board must update its rules this summer, as well. We’ll share more details as soon as the draft rules and schedule are released.

HB21-1303: Global Warming Potential for Public Project Materials

The legislature recognizes that reducing embodied carbon of building materials is critical to climate action. We’re only just beginning to have this data available though. The goal of the bill is for more material suppliers to develop environmental produce declarations (EPDs) for their products and to encourage the selection of suppliers whose manufacturing and transportation embodied carbon levels are below national averages.

To achieve this goal, future state-owned building design/construction projects will set greenhouse gas limits for certain building materials (asphalt, concrete, glass, structural steel, wood structural elements). We expect to see these limits go into effect in 2024 after the Office of the State Architect develops policy details.

HB21-1286: Energy Performance for Buildings

With building sector operations being responsible for more than a quarter of annual global greenhouse gas emissions, the legislature wants existing buildings to improve energy efficiency. This bill tackles problem head-on with two requirements for most buildings over 50,000 square feet (though we expect this to expand in the future).

First, these buildings must submit annual energy benchmarking reports to the state using the Energy Star system. If this sounds familiar, it’s based on similar requirements already in effect in Denver, Boulder, and Fort Collins.

Second—and this is truly a paradigm shift for the building sector—every five years, the same buildings will have to submit performance reports. Standards will be developed later this year by a task force, which will include an architect member. Buildings below the performance threshold will have to make at least incremental energy improvements every five years until they are in full compliance with the standards. We’ll have more details on what this means for architects when the standards rule-making process begins.

About the Author

Nikolaus Remus, AIA

Nikolaus Remus, AIA, is the Advocacy Engagement Director on staff at AIA Colorado, where he manages state and local advocacy initiatives and monitors legislature that may impact architects. He is the staff liaison to the Government Affairs Committee, Architectural Advocacy Network, and the Academy for Architecture Health Knowledge Community.
A licensed architect, Remus previously spent nine years working at CTA Architects Engineers Denver office. He is a LEED AP with a BD+C specialty.

Before joining the AIA Colorado staff, he was an active AIA member, serving on and chairing the Government Affairs Committee and the Legislative Subcommittee. Remus was a guest lecturer for the Architectural Registration EXAM (ARE) ASAP program, was a mentor lead for the inaugural group mentorship program, and is an A3LC and ULI Colorado member. Contact him at nikolaus@aiacolorado.org.

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