Meet the Chair: Academy of Architecture for Health Knowledge Community

Associate Principal, TreanorHL

Mike Hagan, AIA

What’s happening in the healthcare industry? It’s no simple task of staying apprised for the Academy of Architecture for Health Knowledge Community, chaired by Mike Hagan, AIA. We caught up with Hagan to learn the latest happening in the knowledge community and the ever-changing healthcare industry.

How did you come to chair this committee?

My initial involvement with the new committee immediately generated much excitement, thanks to the great key members involved. The steering committee members helped encouraged me to maintain a high-level of commitment to help the organization succeed from its infancy and suggested a chair role for the 2021 year, which I was grateful to accept and embrace.

What drew you to this group initially?
With a passion for healthcare design and construction, this organization piqued immediate interest for “sharing health knowledge” within the community.

How has this committee grown or changed since you initially got involved?
The committee continues to grow with numbers of participants and thanks to the dedicated steering committee members from various local design firms. Diversity of knowledge continues to be strong. The committee has also become more structured in the recent year with defined roles and responsibilities for each steering committee member.

What are some of the accomplishments this year you are most proud of?
I am most proud of the committees success this year during very unique times of the continued virtual setting. Despite the challenges of not being in person, the group has maintained focus and a result had many successful events with participation continuing to increase.

What are some immediate and long-term plans we can hope to see from the committee?
The committee will continue to actively provide knowledge sharing opportunities though events and partnerships with other organizations. In the future, we hope with the growth of members and participants the knowledge will extend beyond architects to other important members in the healthcare community.

What one thing do you wish the membership and profession at large knew about this topic or what your committee is doing?
The committee is not only full of knowledge, but also—and most importantly—we are resources.

Meet the Co-Chair: Committee on the Environment

Sustainability Advisor and Business Developer, Iconergy Co.

Maria Agazio

This year, the Committee on the Environment (COTE) has taken deep dives into best practices, the 2030 Commitment, and a sustainability survey designed for Colorado architects. With environmental stewardship as an AIA Colorado imperative—and to learn more about the COTE initiatives—we caught up with Maria Agazio, who co-chairs the committee with Beverly Pax. Read on as Agazio brings us up to speed on the latest concerning environmental stewardship in Colorado.

What drew you to this group?

I was drawn to COTE, because my career is centered on the idea of furthering sustainability in the built environment and the idea of being able to discuss these topics with a group of architects seemed like a great opportunity.

How has this committee grown or changed since you initially got involved?

We have made progress toward communicating environmental topics more affectively with AIA Colorado members and the general public. The sustainability survey has been a major part of the group discussion and published this year. (We encourage you to take it!)

What do you think is the biggest contribution that this committee brings to the Colorado architecture community?

Resources around “demystifying the 2030 Commitment,” as well as survey results that will help us understand architects’ perspectives on various sustainability topics and themes.

As AIA Colorado strives to create a culture of belonging, what steps have you taken to reach beyond Denver?

We consistently look to other chapters to gather resources and provide resources for movement toward sustainable progress. This can also be seen by our awareness of national events and articles that are presented at each meeting.

What are some immediate and long-term plans we can hope to see from the committee?

I remain committed to addressing methane emissions, working to establish a more comprehensive electric grid. We hope to release survey results around sustainability awareness in Colorado firms, and we also hope to release a 2030 Commitment roadmap that helps firms sign and understand the 2030 Commitment.

What one thing do you wish that more architects knew about environmental stewardship?

Every building has the opportunity to add positively to its environment. It is the responsibility of the architect and design team to incorporate sustainable practices and elements into every design regardless of the overarching focus of the building.

Webinar Recap: Building and Running a Successful Hybrid Practice

Hybrid. Work from Home. In Office. COVID-19. Epidemic. Pandemic. Endemic. Fully Vaccinated. Booster. Delta Variant. And now the Omicrom Variant.

The year 2022 is nearing, and these words have dominated our discussion, lifestyle, and firms since early 2020. As we live in a steady state of safety, how are we connecting as a workplace?  Life continues. Work moves forward. Design continues. Our community and the built environment need our attention. People require structure—both physically with our buildings and mentally as we seek to adjust to what seems as a new normal. These are just a few takeaways from the recent AIA Colorado webinar with Evelyn Lee, FAIA, “Building and Running a Successful Hybrid Practice.”

“Firms need to reflect, rethink, and revise.”

Evelyn lee, faia

Lee is a nationwide thought leader and shared her insights into how your firm can overcome and work in a hybrid scenario. She is the first Senior Experience Designer at Slack Technologies, Founder of the Practice of Architecture, and Co-Host on the Podcast, “Practice Disrupted.” She received the 2014 AIA National Young Architects Award and currently serves as Treasurer on the AIA National Board. Following are takeaways from Lee’s presentation on successful hybrid firms.

A hybrid practice is a resilient practice. Aim to build a more agile and adaptable environment. As Lee said, “Firms need to reflect, rethink, and revise.”  She framed these concepts in six different areas: 1) culture, 2) people and policies, 3) team management and productivity, 4) security and support, 5) tools, and 6) the hybrid employee. 

  • Culture.  Cultivate a workplace that is values-based in which every decision is rooted in this culture. Flex your behavior and response to address how values may manifest in different ways.  Revisit your firm’s “why.” Conduct an annual employee survey. How many employees would recommend your firm to others? Remember, culture is the sole differentiator for your firm.
  • People and Policies. Empower your employees with a shared definition of trust that enables their best work. She indicates that 95 percent of workers considering changing jobs in what is called, “The Great Resignation,” and 92 percent of workers are considering changing industries.  Lee recommends building a framework that supports each employee’s career. Transform hiring outcomes to yield first-day productivity and continue onboarding for an entire year. 
  • Team Management and Productivity. Stand up a digital headquarters that is relevant and essential. The digital HQ centralizes information and efforts. Ensure your firm distributes decisions made in-person onto the digital HQ platform. Too, adjust the firm’s mindset to that of remote even if just one person is working from home. Create time for deep work without distractions and brain-write for innovation / creativity. Establish balance with a burst of activity and slower simmer modes. 
  • Security and Support. Build a virtual cloud of data warehousing that enables anywhere access for employees. Invest financial and personnel resources toward information technology in order to provide timely and effective data management.
  • Tools. Ideally, software or hardware tools create an ease of operation and design. But first, know the capabilities of these tools and what your firm needs these tool’s functions to perform.  Understand who requires what tools to assist your team and client. Know each category of tools and how to operationalize these IT assets to enhance workflow and communications procedures. 
  • The Hybrid Employee. Work From Home (WFH) does not mean anything goes. Set work boundaries and routines. Optimize your workspace to fit your work needs. Over communicate with your team. Be a thoughtful teammate and take care of yourself. Back-to-back virtual meetings can be detrimental; manage your calendar well to manage yourself even better.

Lee concluded her presentation with a few overall tips: Your firm’s people are your greatest assets. Manage expectations and learn. Be patient and trust the process. 

AIA Colorado seeks to foster your firm’s best path forward during this challenging time. We are providing innovative speakers and solutions that will enable your firm and employees to be successful for your clients, community, and company. To learn more about hybrid working hybrid, you can view Lee’s full presentation on YouTube.  Let’s collaborate and learn together as we stay safe. 

Meet the 2020 Legislator of the Year

Sen. Chris Hansen

The AIA Colorado Design + Honor Awards recognize people making a difference in their communities and the architecture profession more broadly. Recipients typically include design firms and individual architects but have expanded to include a number of legislators whose efforts align with AIA Colorado’s imperatives. State Senator Chris Hansen received the 2020 Legislator of the Year award, and we recently sat down to ask Senator Hansen about his achievements.

How do you feel as though you are making a positive impact on the built environment here in Colorado?

Every day, we witness the harmful effects of the changing climate that have a direct impact on tourism, jobs, and the natural beauty of our state. We must work together to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, and I have and will continue to work in the Colorado Legislature to propose new and innovative solutions. One of those innovative solutions focuses on the built environment in Colorado. I am working to make a positive impact by reducing the greenhouse gas emissions in the construction stages of new buildings but also in the life cycle of these buildings. These policies range from reducing the embodied carbon in construction materials to the beneficial electrification of buildings as we work to reduce emissions from electricity generation.

How did you decide which specific construction materials to target in your embodied carbon bill, and how did those decisions change or evolve over the life of the bill?

I spoke with different stakeholders, like AIA, and manufacturers to put together a list of materials that would best achieve the embodied carbon goals while also being accessible to the construction industry.

Have your priorities for legislation changed since moving from the House to the Senate?

I entered into the Colorado General Assembly focused on helping Colorado to better address the climate crisis. During my time in the House, I worked to pass several bills to accomplish this goal; however, there are many sectors that still need specific plans to meet our economy-wide goals. As I transitioned into the Senate, my legislative priorities have remained focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating climate change effects, but serving on the Joint Budget Committee means that I also work on economic, tax and fiscal policy, social justice issues, education, and healthcare policies.

What more do you think Architects can be doing to address the climate crisis?

Architects play a critical role in the infrastructural development of our society. As architects look forward to new developments, they can integrate tactics to minimize buildings’ carbon and environmental footprint. This can include sustainable design to take advantage of passive environmental factors in the temperature regulation of buildings, selecting materials that lower the embodied carbon of a building, and electrifying the built environment. There are many innovative ways for architects to be involved in addressing the climate crisis, and I look forward to working with them to create a supportive set of policies in Colorado.

How has your relationship with AIA Colorado changed or shaped the way you view issues relating to the built environment?

My relationship with AIA Colorado has allowed me to have a network of experts and allies in the architectural field who are as passionate about increasing sustainability in Colorado as I am. AIA Colorado’s commitment to environmental stewardship has paved the way for reducing the impact of the built environment in Colorado.

What else would you like Colorado Architects to know about? Are there any big ideas or potential forthcoming bills we should begin educating ourselves about and rallying for?

I remain committed to addressing methane emissions, working to establish more comprehensive electric grid planning, and decarbonizing building materials. Getting Colorado to our net-zero goal remains on the forefront of my agenda to tackle the climate crisis with urgency. I am working on a comprehensive bill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across several sectors, including a proposal to eliminate sales taxes on low or zero emission building materials.

A Conversation with a Boulder City Council Candidate

Lauren Folkerts, AIA

As part of the AIA Colorado Architectural Advocacy Network (AAN), committee members help to expand our advocacy efforts across the state and in local communities. AAN Committee Chair Erin Braunstein, AIA, recently sat down with Boulder City Council candidate Lauren Folkerts, AIA, to discuss her vision for Boulder, the path to architecture, and how you, too, can get involved.

Lauren Folkerts, AIA, is one of us. She’s an AIA Colorado member, an architect, and a passionate Coloradan. There’s one big difference, however. She’s running for Boulder City Council.

Folkerts’ campaign is motivated by the city’s affordable housing crisis. “What we say we want as a community is not aligning with the policies that Boulder has in place,” she said. “There are significant mismatches.”  

Now in her third year of chairing Boulder’s Design Advisory Board (with a term limited to 5 years), she has seen the unintended consequences of the existing regulatory language. Should Folkerts be elected to Boulder City Council on November 2, her knowledge of designations within zoning definitions, use codes, and how envelopes are dictated will be invaluable. 


How She Got Here

Graduating in 2010 from University of Oregon, Eugene, with a Bachelor of Architecture, Folkerts now works at HMH Architecture + Interiors specializing in sustainable design.  

We asked Folkerts, “Why architecture?” People around her as a child would suggest architecture as a career path given her strengths in math and art. While her childhood girlfriends would imagine marrying their crushes, she would design houses for the imaginary newlyweds. Folkerts grew up outside of Seattle, Washington, and at age 9, she visited the University of Oregon with her mom. During the tour, she questioned the guide “Do you have a good architecture program?” Years later, she asked herself what would make a meaningful impact and lead to doing good. University of Oregon’s strong sustainability program was a natural fit. And then came Boulder.

“Moving to Boulder and working in architecture, I expected something more from a sustainable city,” said Folkerts. “But the way the regulations are set up, while it’s good in some aspects for sustainable design, it restrict us from important options. A big part of why I decided to run for City Council was to change some of these rules. It’s time to make changes and incentivize the kind of sustainable design you would expect from a city with a reputation like Boulder.”

Creating Change

To help shepherd that change, Folkerts’ platform is based on solutions to help our community’s affordable housing crisis along with strategies to address the climate crisis.

She also believes that that Boulder needs to provide day-treatment services, and she would like for the city to implement more harm-reduction strategies regarding drug use. With current enforcement of the camping ban, she is concerned the city is causing additional harm. Many people fall in-between, and the housing fulfillment process is not fast enough for them. She cites statistics indicating that the number of days without housing increases one’s risk of not finding stable housing again. According to Folkerts, criminalizing people makes it harder to qualify for housing, which makes the problem more intractable.

There is a ballot initiative endorsed by many underrepresented groups titled, “Bedrooms are for People,” which addresses affordability of housing. The proposed ordinance modification would adjust the occupancy figures in housing. Folkerts supports that initiative and in expanding transportation options to connect where people live. Increasing density in some zoning districts, she says, is part of the affordable housing solution.

How We Can Help

We discussed how architects may make a difference in their communities and get involved. She noted that architects are trained in design thinking, trained to look for opportunities and to solve problems. Architects have information how sustainable improvements are essential to both the affordable housing and climate crisis. Those facts are incredibly useful for policymakers to hear. The education we can offer to shape government policy is under appreciated, especially when it so well aligned with voter’s wishes. The council has an existing work plan to make meaningful progress; the use code is due to be updated. Folkerts noted making significant changes in Boulder depends on the synergy with nine people on council.

There are huge opportunities to make sustainable gains for buildings and transportation—opportunities are the forces at play. At work, one project at a time, we do the right thing for our clients and make these sustainable choices. Architects have skills and understanding to address issues at large in a larger context and not be afraid of public advocacy involvement. Our time is limited. We need support from our firm leaders to be involved with these initiatives. We need to be involved and shape our communities and educate where we can. By sharing what we know regarding embodied energy versus operational energy, we can increase the level of understanding. Both the general public and policy holders do not have strong understandings about these issues.

Why should firms encourage community involvement? “Because it’s a good way to give employees experience in leadership and engage the community at large, while furthering goals among the architecture profession,” said Folkerts. “So you get two really big boosts from that. It’s about educational opportunities within the firm, but also leadership within the community. Whenever you have chances like that, it takes investment from the firm, but the benefits far outweigh the cost.”

What’s Next

Folkerts has earned endorsements from the Sierra Club, Boulder Weekly, and the Boulder Labor council. She has also received endorsement from current Boulder City Council Members Aaron Brocker, Junie Joseph, and Rachel Friend. When asked her where she imagines she will be in 15 years, Folkerts acknowledged she is focusing between now and November 3—after the election of course.

As we left our meeting, “Boulder Strong” signs were omnipresent. It’s a good reminder that the strength of any community is precious and worth advocating for—and to get out there and vote.

Meet the 2020 Outstanding New Legislator

Rep. Cathy Kipp

As part of the Design + Honor Awards, AIA Colorado has introduced legislative awards to honor and recognize legislators whose work aligns with our imperatives. Among the recipients are Representative Cathy Kipp, who was named 2020 Outstanding New Legislator. She recently sat down with AIA Colorado to discuss climate change and how architects can help further efforts. Read on to learn more from the conversation.

How are you making a positive difference in the built environment in Colorado?

I’m really proud of the work we have been able to accomplish by teaming up with great groups like AIA Colorado to make a difference here in Colorado. I’ve been fortunate during my three sessions in the Colorado legislature to pass legislation to help reduce carbon emissions, which not only helps to mitigate climate change, but also gives people better places in which they live, work, and enjoy.

During 2019, my first year in the legislature, we were able to pass legislation to ensure building codes in Colorado comply with one of the three most recent versions of IECC (International Energy Conservation Code). The IECC is updated every three years, so passing legislation that has continuous improvement built-in, is a big win for improving building codes and energy efficiency now and into the future. In 2019, we also passed a bill to improve appliance energy efficiency standards, which among other things, kept light bulb efficiency standards in place when they were rolled back for a time nationally.

For the past two years, we’ve been working on the building benchmarking and performance bill, which will improve the energy efficiency of large commercial buildings in Colorado. This bill builds on benchmarking programs already in place in Denver, Fort Collins, and Boulder, and will ensure energy performance of these buildings improves over time.

How did you become interested in pushing the issue of using more current energy building codes?

One of the people I ran against when I was elected to the Colorado House reached out to me after the election and asked to work with me on legislation to address climate change. I came from the world of education and didn’t have much experience with environmental issues, so I gladly accepted her partnership and her expertise. We have been working on bills together ever since and have become good friends.

How do you see this issue changing in the future?

We need to continue to make progress in the areas of energy efficiency, clean energy, and reducing carbon emissions. The effects of climate change are becoming increasingly obvious here on planet Earth. Let’s hope that, as a species, we choose saving the planet at the cost of a little inconvenience.

What do you think is the most impactful aspect of the building energy benchmarking/performance bill from the 2021 session?

At least 15 percent of Colorado’s carbon emissions comes from the large commercial buildings the benchmarking/performance bill addresses. This bill means we will be helping building owners to save both energy and money while helping to achieve Colorado’s greenhouse gas reduction goals.

How has your relationship with AIA Colorado shaped the way you view some of these issues?

Part of doing my job well is making sure I listen to people who have expertise in all the areas touched by the legislation I run. It is important to me to be able to rely on the architects at AIA Colorado for their valuable perspectives and advice. Thank you, AIA Colorado, for your involvement in crafting this meaningful legislation!

What can architects do to further your efforts?

I hope you will all stay engaged and reach out to share your ideas and advice. You make the laws we pass better.

Is there anything you want to add that I should have asked that you’d like for architects to know?

Thank you for recognizing the challenges Colorado has and for being part of the solution. There is a lot I don’t know. I truly appreciate the architects reaching out to engage and make sure I learn what I need to know before we pass legislation. It’s much easier to solve potential problems than actual problems.

Webinar Recap: Designing for Equity

The division is still here. It divides and stifles. Inequity permeates our Colorado built environment. The haves and have nots in design and development are overwhelming to those who eyewitness barriers and hopelessness. For those who do not understand this, listen, consider, collaborate, and design. But how can architects help overcome this current inequity in design? All that and more was discussed during a recent AIA Colorado and NOMA Colorado joint webinar, “Designing for Equity: Our Responsibility to Create Inclusive Environments.”

Panelists included:

  • Nita Gonzales, M.ED., Principal, Nuevo Amanecer, LLC
  • Shalini Agrawal, Founder and Principal of Public Design for Equity and Director of Programs for Open Architecture Collaborative and Pathways to Equity
  • Dee Dee Devuyst, Acting Executive Director, Radian

The panel was co-moderated by Kaci Taylor, AIA, NOMA, and Patricia Joseph, Assoc. AIA, NOMA.

To understand architectural inequities today, one must go back decades and generations to understand a broader context. Consider these opposing ideas dealing with inequity… home ownership versus renting, generational wealth versus hourly minimum wage, and loan acceptance versus loan rejections. 

Redlining in Denver from the early to mid-1900s involved denying home loans to minorities based on living in the “red-lined” disadvantaged (or risky investment) areas of Denver. This practice perpetuated itself with minorities not having generational wealth accumulated by home ownership; therefore, renting was the most likely option for minority descendants. Lack of home ownership affects influence and standing in communities, which directly impacts zoning, development, and building usages. Said Gonzales, “The equity lens for Denver is disappointing and frustrating. For example, grocery and early childhood deserts exists in lower income neighborhoods.” Privileged communities are not faced with these challenges. 

“We are trained to be creative problem solvers. Lean in with this skill.”

  • Shalini Agrawal
  • Furthermore, a decades-long trend of gentrification negatively impacts minority communities. If we consider the dictionary’s definition, gentrification is described as a process in which a poor area (as of a city) experiences an influx of middle-class or wealthy people who renovate and rebuild homes and businesses and which often results in an increase in property values and the displacement of earlier, usually poorer residents. Gentrification may appear to benefit many, but the reality is a stark contrast that pushes out individuals and families who are not resourced well. And it’s back to renting in substandard neighborhoods. 

    What are some practical steps architects and design stakeholders can incorporate to mitigate a racially divided built environment? First, designers need to become more intentional in connecting with under-represented neighborhoods. “Walk the community. Risk the chance of meeting people in the community,” Gonzales said. “Balance form with function [in design] with the land and not to control the land.”

    Next, take an “Equity Pause.” “Air a question. Make space for listening,” said Agrawal. Be curious. Listen to people and their concerns. Taylor added that what we see is not by accident—it is by design. Use a different lens and an organic approach in architectural design. 

    Finally, do what architects do best—solve complex problems. Agrawal said, “We are trained to be creative problem solvers. Lean in with this skill.” With this in mind, understand from the community’s point of view the effects of your design. Devuyst added, “How are we causing more harm? Is this project going to unintentionally promote gentrification?” 

    Authenticity goes a long way. Don’t patronize. Hire help within the community. “Move from transactional to relational,” said Agrawal. “And move at the speed of trust.” 

    Architects make generational decisions that may last over 100 years. Let’s listen, consider, and design buildings that yield positive outcomes for everyone. Challenge yourself to walk a neighborhood and fully understand its culture and its people, as well as its cost-benefit. That’s a legacy built on listening and designing a built environment that solves complex problems with mutually beneficial outcomes, ultimately helping to unite people together. 

    Meet the 2021 Outstanding New Legislator

    Rep. Tracey Bernett

    House Representative Tracey Bernett (District 12) is the esteemed recipient of the AIA Colorado 2021 Outstanding New Legislator Award. Representative Bernett was an instrumental force behind the landmark HB21-1303: Global Warming Potential For Public Project Materials embodied carbon bill, known as the “Buy Clean Colorado Act,” signed into law on July 6. The bill requires the Office of the State Architect and the Department of Transportation to establish policies to limit acceptable Global Warming Potential for asphalt, cement, concrete, steel, glass, and wood on state-funded building and transportation projects.

    She sat down with AIA Colorado to discuss her motivations, the influence architects have had on her perspective, and her plans to improve Colorado for future generations.

    What inspired you to seek office and how will the office allow you to make a positive difference in the built environment in Colorado?

    I want to make the world a better place! My dad was an engineer, and he instilled in me the values of honesty, integrity, and the pursuit of excellence. My mother was a lifelong activist for environmental causes and inspired my brothers and me to make the world a better place. My core passions are the environment, education, and equity. I am also a world-class runner, No. 1 in my age group for indoor mile, with asthma. I’ve completed 36 marathons. I have to check air quality when other runners just look at the weather. I know that we are in a climate crisis that is also a health crisis.

    I worked as a Research and Policy Analyst for environmental legislation with Mike Foote and Faith Winter. My first report was 86 pages on the Health Effects of Climate Change in Colorado. I attended a seminar on new energy and became interested in buildings as the hardest nut to crack. Buildings are the most difficult to transition to the new economy, and I wanted to start on the hardest problem first.

    How has your experience as a civil engineer influenced your values and priorities in the state legislature?

    I am not afraid to ask technical questions. My sweet spot is technology and business, specifically how technology impacts the business world. I went to Cornell for Engineering and Harvard for an MBA. I worked on the design of nuclear engineering plants, in the aerospace defense industry on international development projects, and was an entrepreneur as a computer industry analyst consultant before being elected to the legislature. I connect technical topics to real impacts that people care about.

    Let me tell you a story. It was 10 p.m., Saturday night on the house floor, we were talking about concrete. There I was, talking about concrete in the middle of the night, thinking to myself, “Who the heck cares about concrete?” Let me tell you why you should care. Concrete generates 14 percent of the total greenhouse gas in world. Cement, if it was a country, would be the third largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world. If we address concrete, we can decarbonize, greenhouse gas is reduced, and pollution is reduced because we can use recycled content. Colorado has some of the greenest steel and concrete suppliers in country, so it’s good for our economy, too.

    What motivated you to add CDOT projects into the “Buy Clean” embodied carbon bill? Do you see potential for the bill to expand in the future?

    The Buy Clean Colorado Act is only the second Buy Clean bill passed in the U.S. and is unique in its scope. Colorado’s bill not only covers both buildings and transportation, but also is the most comprehensive in terms of materials. It was proposed in 2020 but didn’t pass. I took it in 2021 and included the State Architect and CDOT. I heard from the AIA, suppliers, and manufacturers that so much asphalt, steel, and concrete are used in transportation projects. Transportation projects are challenging. There was a lot of education in transportation stakeholder discussions. They need more latitude to understand life-cycle costs even per mile between asphalt and concrete. I partnered with the Carbon Leadership Forum to demonstrate the Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator (EC3) tool, worked with the Asphalt Association to share that Arizona has systems that use half of the emissions of Colorado, and that it would apply here. There will be tweaks; we need to give people time to learn.

    What are your other priorities for legislative action regarding the climate crisis in Colorado?

    My priorities are to continue to work on decarbonization and buildings. I worked with Senator Chris Hansen on HB21-1238: Public Utilities Commission Modernize Gas Utility Demand-side Management Standards, known as “The Clean Heat Plan,” a gas-demand, side management rebate from utility companies for using more efficient gas furnace and appliances. This will encourage the use of more energy-efficient items, like moving to heat pumps, and adds a social cost to carbon dioxide and methane generation. This is a first-in-nation plan and could reduce greenhouse gas by 22 percent by 2030. I want to build performance and impact at on a large scale as well as at the individual building scale.

    How can AIA members help in those efforts?

    Send Ideas! I’m a big picture thinker that is interested in sustainable infrastructure, the grid, resilience, decarbonizaton, and how to transition from fossil fuels. There is more work to be done in the future and I am excited to help.

    Has your daughter’s degree in architecture or your relationship with AIA Colorado reshaped your perspective on certain topics?

    At Cornell, I looked into double-majoring in Architecture but it would have taken forever—I am a frustrated Architect! I am living vicariously through my daughter, who graduated with an M.Arch from Cornell. She is interested in sustainability beyond LEED; she has worked with Bill Browning (founding member of USGBC LEED) at the Terrapin Bright Green Center. She has done research for a program to make early design decisions that optimize energy and embodied carbon. Her thesis is on a negative carbon development in Indonesia. She is a strong influence.

    Is there anything else you’d like AIA members to know?

    Climate change is a health crisis, we need to slow it down, increase resilience, and fight for our children and grandchildren. Architects get it, but there is a lot of education to be done.

    For more information on Representative Tracey Bernett’s perspectives, see her op-ed on why we should care about embodied carbon and the social impacts of carbon dioxide and methane. For more information on Representative Tracey Bernett’s experience and support of the “Buy Clean Act,” see her op-ed on HB21-1303. Representative Bernett will also be a panelist at New York Climate Week on September 21 and speaking at the Carbon Leadership Forum Policy Webinar on Oct 8.

    Webinar Recap: Turning Words into Action

    Change can be hard. Sustentative change requires awareness, comprehension, big ideas, intentional conversations, and consistent work toward goals.  

    AIA Colorado has made justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (J.E.D.I.) one of its top imperatives, expanding its reach to more people and building a generational legacy of new architects and designers who will design a built environment that will reflect our multi-cultures and provide an opportunity for anyone to dream of a career in architecture.

    And in support of that imperative, the organization has been partnering with the National Organization of Minority Architects, NOMA Colorado, to produce a series of J.E.D.I. webinars this summer. The most recent was “Turning Words into Action: J.E.D.I. Resources to Create Meaningful Change.” 

    Panelists included:

    • Abby Tourtellotte, AIA, LEED AP BD+C – Quinn Evans
    • Kevin M. Holland, FAIA, NOMAC, LEED AP – AIA Los Angeles
    • Lauren Malik – Thought Ensemble
    • Mary-Margaret Zindren, CAE – AIA Minnesota

    So how does one create meaning change in their daily life, firm, and with their sphere of influence?
    First, realize that each person has the influence and power to change his or her environment. Working from home or using a hybrid method is an example of the workforce being a catalyst for change. Don’t expect those around you to necessarily spur change. Create a space for respectful dialogue and be prepared to engage more meaningfully if needed.

    Second, identify the barriers to effectively incorporate change. Said Tourtellotte, “One of the biggest barriers is fear. Take a stance.” But do act humbly and take feedback if there are missteps. “See something. Say something,” she said. 
    Next, invite an understanding of terminology and words brought up in discussions. “Get on the same page on the meaning of terms,” said Malik. These words could be equity, inclusion, racism, bias, and unconscious bias, among others. She later said this dialogue will open the door to an even deeper conversation. 

    Another step is to spur leaders to become aware and have intentional conversations toward change. Budget and time will point towards what is valued. “Show me your budget and it will tell me what you value,” said Holland.

    Does the employee handbook create the ability to expand J.E.D.I. concepts into change at your firm? Do annual reviews reflect justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion goals? Maybe your hiring procedures and policies need to be updated. Do your billable hours offer a J.E.D.I. category? Each of these practices reflect meaningful change. Is your firm ready to make these changes. 

    Finally, consider establishing a baseline J.E.D.I. data point and tracking quantitative progress with qualitative meaning. Assign tasks for different J.E.D.I. categories and provide quarterly reports. Preset findings to your entire company, customers, and clients. But make sure this data tracking leads to meaningful conversation and change. Be authentic. As Zindren said, “Be a culture of candor. Know it because you feel it.”

    AIA Colorado champions these changes, as creating a larger table for everyone to gather, converse, and design yields a better Colorado and community. Please listen to this webinar and join the J.E.D.I. conversation!

    Guides for Equitable Practice—AIA Colorado Edition

    The Guides for Equitable Practice are a comprehensive set of guides—one component of a broad commitment by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) to overcome inequities and advance the profession, the careers of individual architects, and the quality of the built environment by creating more equitable, diverse, inclusive, and just workplaces and interactions. As indicated in its Executive Summary, “The need for equitable practice in the architecture profession is becoming ever clearer and more urgent. These guides provide support for informed discussions and concrete next steps to help turn intent into action.”

    The AIA Colorado Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee has developed an abridged version of the Guides, tailored to our state’s practices. We invite you to read them.

    © AIA Colorado 2023