2024 Colorado Legislative Bills Tracked To Date

Published March 5, 2024

The 2024 legislative session is one of the most interesting for architects we’ve seen in years and we’ve only just hit the halfway point. AIA Colorado is taking positions on the following bills so far:

HB24-1008: Wage Claims Construction Industry Contractors

AIA position: Oppose/amend

Status: Passed in first committee hearing and scheduled for second committee hearing.

Details: This bill’s goal is to hold general contractors jointly and severally liable for unpaid wages of employees of their subcontractors. While this bill does not directly affect the architecture profession in most cases, there could be instances in joint ventures where architecture firms also assume the same liability as GC partners. We’re working with a broad construction industry coalition who oppose this bill as being unfair to GCs and harmful to small subcontractors who won’t be able to meet higher insurance policy requirements if this bill passes.

HB24-1091: Fire-Hardened Building Materials in Real Property

AIA position: Support

Status: Awaiting Governor’s signature

Details: During the Marshall Fire rebuild process, numerous residents within a homeowner association have been told that bylaws require flammable exterior building materials such as fences and roof materials in newly rebuilt homes. This bill will make such covenants, bylaws, etc. void as public policy and allow homeowners to use fire-hardened materials on their homes without requiring HOA permission.

SB24-106: Right to Remedy Construction Defects

AIA position: Support

Status: Awaiting vote in first committee hearing.

Details: Despite numerous attempts in previous years to address construction defect reform, condominiums in Colorado are almost entirely missing from new housing construction. This bill would strengthen right to remedy options by construction professionals (including architects) when a defect claim is made. This bill also requires a 2/3 vote and written consent instead of simple majority of unit owners to enter into a lawsuit on behalf of the entire community.

SB24-112: Construction Defect Action Procedures

AIA position: Amend

Status: Awaiting first committee hearing

Details: This bill has been presented as an alternative to SB24-106 with even greater restrictions on how HOAs can enter lawsuits. There is language in the bill as introduced that we feel is unfair towards architects moreso than other construction professionals. We’re working with the bill sponsor to amend this language out.

HB24-1125: Tax Credit Commercial Building Conversion

AIA position: Support via coalition

Status: Passed in first committee hearing and scheduled for second committee hearing.

Details: This bill would provide tax credits up to $3 million for successful commercial-to-residential building conversion project. While AIA Colorado supports this effort in concept, we have concerns about this bill’s ability to make projects pencil out or provide enough of an incentive for conversion projects to move forward.

HB24-1152: Accessory Dwelling Units

AIA position: Support

Status: Passed in first committee hearing and scheduled for second committee hearing.

Details: This bill would require most cities in a metropolitan planning organization to require single-family lots to allow one accessory dwelling unit to be built, subject to certain restrictions. Cities affected are in the four metro areas along the I-25 corridor and Grand Junction.

SB24-154: Accessory Dwelling Units

AIA position: Support

Status: Awaiting first committee hearing

Details: This bill compliments HB24-1152 but focuses on properties in unincorporated county land. It would allow accessory dwelling units in certain circumstances and also allow conversions of existing buildings to accessory dwelling units.

HB24-1329: Sunset Architects Engineers & Land Surveyors

AIA position: Support

Status: Awaiting first committee hearing

Details: This is the single most important bill to our profession! Architects are licensed by the state and every 8-12 years the state reviews a profession’s practice act. We participated in the state’s review last year and support all their recommendations for practice act updates. We’re well-positioned to get this practice act renewal bill across the finish line alongside our professional engineer and land surveyor colleagues.

HB24-1230: Protections for Real Property Owners

AIA position: Oppose

Status: Awaiting first committee hearing

Details: This bill would increase the timeframe to file a construction defect lawsuit from a 6-year statute of repose (timeframe to identify a construction defect) to 8 years. The statute of limitations (time to file a claim after a defect is discovered) would remain at 2 years. If this bill passes, architects are at risk of being named in defect lawsuits for up to 10 years instead of the current 8. We expect that this liability increase to affect insurance rates for projects of all types.

HB24-1239 Single-Exit Stairway Multifamily Structure

AIA position: Support/amend

Status: Awaiting first committee hearing

Details: Building codes typical limit single-stair multifamily residential buildings to 3 stories. In local jurisdictions across the country (Seattle in particular), these same buildings can be built to 5 or 6 stories, subject to additional safety measures and a local fire department’s ability to reach the top of the building with their equipment. This bill would require local jurisdictions in Colorado to adopt building code language to allow these taller single-family stairs. AIA Colorado will support this bill after discussion and additional clarification in the bill on what safety requirements will have to be included in new local codes.

Government Affairs Committee member Sean Jursnick, AIA, discussed the measure to allow taller single stair developments with the Denver Post.

HB24-1314 Modification Tax Credit Preservation Historic Structures

AIA position: Support

Status: Awaiting first committee hearing

Details: This bill is an expansion and extension of an existing historic preservation program that AIA Colorado previously supported. Updates include making it easier for homeowner to access these grants and expand eligibility to buildings at least 30 years old instead of 50 in current law. Other changes bring state tax credits into closer alignment with similar federal programs.

AIA Colorado meets with Colorado Congressional delegation

AIA Colorado was in Washington, D.C. for the AIA Leadership Summit and also on the Hill discussing issues that are important to Colorado architects.

“Architects can change the course of history. On a fly-in day in February, hundreds of architects convened and flooded the Capitol halls visiting congressional members, all discussing three important legislative bills to elicit support. Not only was inside baseball shared, bill support was gained and a bonus topic was planted. A future visioning session with legislators on imagining housing added to the 36% of federally owned buildings and property in Colorado. A sure win for the future!”

— Sarah Broughton, FAIA, Past President

Julianne Scherer, AIA, President, Sarah Broughton, FAIA, Past-President, Kaylyn Kirby, AIA, Young Architects Forum Representative, Mike Waldinger, Hon. AIA, CEO, and Nikolaus Remus, AIA,  Advocacy Advancement Director visited the offices of Sen. Bennet, Sen. Hickenlooper, Rep. DeGette, Rep. Pettersen, and Rep. Boebert.

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Architects on the Hill

In total, more than 400 AIA architects members converged on Capitol Hill to advocate for pressing legislation that will significantly impact the architecture profession and community needs. Architects focused on direct engagement with policymakers to advocate for critical legislative goals.

Key national issues include:

Additionally, Colorado membership engaged with policy makers regarding federal workforce housing. Specifically, the request was for the federal government to free up land for future developments that can help make our communities livable for those who work there, starting with federal employees and federal land.

AIA Colorado invited members of the Colorado Congressional delegation to participate in a housing symposium in order to convene and co-promote a visioning session with federal agencies experiencing workforce shortfalls.

Read the AIA Colorado issues document shared and discussed with Colorado’s Congressional delegation.

The message was made loud and clear that AIA Colorado stands ready to help coordinate this effort with Congressional participation and support!

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2023 Legislator Awards

AIA Colorado recently presented our 2023 legislators awards to Senator Dylan Roberts as our 2023 Legislator of the Year and Representative Jenny Willford as our 2023 Outstanding New Legislator.

Despite representing very different districts, both Senator Dylan Roberts and Representative Jenny Willford share a number of the same qualities. They are smart. They focus on the needs of their constituents. They have the confidence to take on big issues. They have the courage to cast independent votes. They understand the connection between the built environment and the threat of global warming. AIA Colorado is lucky to work closely with them and have them as champions.

Jerry Johnson, AIA Colorado Lobbyist

2023 Legislator of the Year

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Senator Dylan Roberts, alongside representatives Elizabeth Velasco and Meghan Lukens, graciously agreed to meet with AIA Colorado West Section members in Glenwood Springs this past fall to discuss issues important to the architecture profession such as wildfire mitigation, affordable housing, and climate-related topics as they affect our mountain communities.

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Advocacy Engagement Director Nikolaus Remus, AIA, and our lobbyist, Jerry Johnson, joined our members to present our 2023 Legislator of the Year award to Dylan Roberts in recognition of his successful effort to include architects in the board created via SB23-166: Establishment of a Wildfire Resiliency Code Board. This important bill will better define wildland-urban interface areas in Colorado and the board will determine appropriate codes that buildings within these areas must be designed to.  As introduced, this bill lacked the perspective of an architect who could offer insight on how building codes are applied to projects and how they can effectively be used statewide in areas with varying types of fire risk. While similar to the typical building codes architects use on every project, codes such as the ICC’s International Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) Code look more wholistically at building and site design solutions, construction techniques, defensible site maintenance, and fire suppression water supply availability.

2023 Outstanding New Legislator

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Representative Jenny Willford joined our Government Affairs Committee in February to be presented the Outstanding New Legislator Award. We first met Rep. Willford during her campaign in 2022 and were delighted to learn that she strongly supported broader adoption of the latest energy code versions. It’s not common to speak to a candidate who has any familiarity with building codes, but Rep. Willford had experience in both her capacity as a Northglenn city council member and in work she’s done for the Colorado Sierra Club. AIA Colorado supported Rep. Willford’s HB23-1005: New Energy Improvement Program Changes, which expanded the state’s C-PACE energy improvement financing program to apply to more project types. When local jurisdictions opt-in to C-PACE financing, building owners can pay back loans with favorable rates and no upfront costs through their property tax payments. This way, energy improvement projects can be quickly implemented and use new monthly energy-use savings to help pay back the project loan.

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Congratulations again to Senator Dylan Roberts and Representative Jenny Willford! AIA Colorado looks forward to continuing our strong partnership at the state capitol in the years to come.

Letter From 2024 AIA Colorado President

I hope everyone has had an inspiring start to the new year. What’s in store for you this year?

Well, we have the Architecture Practice Act, Design + Honor Awards, Practice & Design Conference, and opportunities for engagement brought to you by your fellow member volunteers. 

Architect’s Practice Act Renewal

2024 is a critically important year for AIA Colorado’s advocacy efforts. This year the state legislature will introduce an updated practice act for architects, professional engineers, and land surveyors. Every licensed profession must periodically undergo a review by the state and a licensing bill is introduced based on the state’s report.

Without the state legislature and governor affirming an extension of this law that regulates the title and scope of licensed architects, our value as a profession is erased.

How can you advocate for the value of our profession?  

First, plan on attending the 2024 Reception With Legislators event on February 20th.

Join colleagues for appetizers and beverages while meeting with state legislators and key policymakers. We will have an issue briefing to everyone who RSVP’s for the reception.

Second, help AIA Colorado support our allies in the state legislature in 2024. Your contributions to ARCpac help our efforts!

The Architects of Colorado Political Committee (ARCpac) empowers architects to play an active role in the election process. Through ARCpac, AIA Colorado members can collectively donate to candidates who fight for issues on behalf of architects.

Issues facing the architecture profession are non-partisan and ARCpac supports candidates statewide in both parties. AIA Colorado has worked closely with the state to ensure our role in protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the public is understood. We have allies in the legislature ready to introduce the bill who value the architecture profession.

With your help, ARCpac can help strengthen our relationships with state legislators in 2024, and beyond! Our practice act renewal is the perfect time to speak with legislators and build or strengthen relationships.

One of the best ways to remain relevant at the state capital is to help our allies get re-elected. ARCpac can write checks for up to $400 per candidate and we’ve identified 24 key legislators worthy of such support sitting on critical committees deciding the fate of the practice act. These elected officials are from each party and all corners of the state.

Individuals and firms (corporations and LLCs) may contribute up to $725 for the 2023-24 election cycle. Everything helps, please contribute what you can.

Our board, staff, and Government Affairs Committee members have started by giving the first $5,000 for the 2024 election so far. With another $5,000 from members like you, we can meet our campaign goal of 24 maximum contributions to 24 legislative champions.

Third, reach out to our Advocacy Director, Nikolaus Remus, AIA, if you have an idea to invite local legislators to your firm, a project site, or simply want to get to know them better back home in their district. Advocacy is all about relationships and we want our elected representatives to personally know architects when they consider policy changes.

Your engagement is crucial in maintaining our value and ultimately our professional licensure.

It’s never too early to start preparing to share your built and unbuilt work for our 2024 AIA Colorado Design + Honor Awards. The call for entries will open March 20th and you look for an announcement in the AIA Colorado newsletter when that call is officially open. Consider how your creative acts are improving the environment for future generations and share this through our awards program. Let’s celebrate your creative gift to the built environment!

Next, organizing and preparation for the 2024 AIA Colorado Practice and Design Conference has begun. I ask owners and principals of firms to consider how you will support the future of the profession by engaging in the continuous learning of your emerging professionals. Our Practice and Design Conference is just the place to build the knowledge and connect to advance our profession.

Finally, all of this and more could not be accomplished without our thoughtful, engaged, and dedicated staff alongside our member volunteers. We reorganized the member volunteer structure to provide leadership, accountability, and capacity. New this year is an organization-wide calendar for you to keep up with everything happening.

If you have an event you’d like to share with members, you can submit your event or tour idea here.

As we embrace 2024, I am grateful and honored to serve you and our profession. This year, I am engaging with architects throughout our state and recording our conversations for a future series exploring the value of an architect. I’m looking forward to sharing these conversations with you later this year.

These are only a few items brought to you through your membership with AIA. Your membership reaffirms our professional value and we will engage with each other, share our value, and commit to reaffirming our collective interest in improving the built environment.

Together, as one AIA Colorado, we will continue to work our mission of ‘Elevating the architecture profession to design a more equitable, sustainable, and beautiful Colorado.

Q&A With Vail Town Council Candidate Brian Sipes

Brian Sipes, AIA

Get to know Vail Town Council candidate Brian Sipes, AIA, as he shares his vision for Vail, the path to architecture, and how you, too, can get involved.

Please share some biographical details so members know who you are.

I graduated from the University of Kansas in 1991 and immediately plunged into community advocacy. In 1992, I co-chaired the inaugural local chapter of COTE under the direct mentorship of Bob Berkebile and Kirk Gastinger, the founders of the national COTE for those who may not recognize the names. It’s truly remarkable to see how far we’ve come with sustainable design. In 1993, we spent three months gathering information and seeking participation for an Architect’s Green Products Night. I recall struggling to find about 15 products to showcase at that time. Additionally, I was a part of a mayor’s task force that proposed a ballot initiative to change the trash funding paradigm, making it expensive to dispose of waste and free to recycle and compost. Unfortunately, it failed, but it imparted valuable lessons.

However, the mountains were calling, so as soon as I had repaid my student loans, I headed west to what I hoped was a utopia of sustainable design. I arrived in the Vail Valley in March of 1994, initially to practice architecture, but I was fully prepared to work ski jobs to stay in the mountains if architecture didn’t pan out. Fortunately, it did.

Throughout my career, I’ve worked on numerous projects, ranging from hospitality, restaurant, ski area facilities, and institutional buildings to multifamily and single-family homes. In 2015, I established my own firm, specializing in smaller-scale home and restaurant design with a strong focus on sustainability. One of my proudest achievements has been serving as the architect for the LEED Platinum Walking Mountains Science Center in Avon, a decade ago. I’ve also had the privilege of working as the architect for the Walking Mountains Educator Housing community, a project comprising three buildings, each with six beds and baths, operating beyond net zero (banking power year-round) and providing co-housing for Graduate Fellows and seasonal naturalists.

My involvement in public service began in 1998 when I was appointed to the Avon Planning and Zoning Commission. It was during this time that I learned the intricacies of government approvals and realized that the most strategic decisions were made at higher levels. In 2002, I ran for what would become two terms on the Avon Town Council and served as Mayor Pro-Tem during my second term. Additionally, I represented Avon on our local Water Authority and developed a deep interest in the fascinating world of water management in our state. It was during this period that I met my wife, and we welcomed our son into the world, which added another layer to my perspective on community.

After my terms on the council and the financial crisis, my family and I relocated to Minturn, and an opportunity to join the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District board opened up. This District supplies water to Vail and sanitation services to the entire upper valley. I was initially appointed and later elected to this position, allowing me to re-immerse myself in the world of water management. Bucking the down valley migration trend, my family and I moved to East Vail at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.

Now, I aspire to bring my extensive experience and unique architect’s perspective to the town I’ve been working my way up to be a part of.

What issues are most important to you and how do you plan on addressing them?

Mountain communities have witnessed a significant influx of people, introducing a markedly skewed economic landscape. Local wages simply cannot compete with individuals who can effortlessly afford $5-8 million homes. This is a reality that makes solutions like the land use bill introduced in the 2023 legislative session completely unworkable in geographically constrained communities such as ours. I want to make sure our unique challenges are broadly understood, which are completely different than how this bill would have affected front range communities.

This is my primary motivation for seeking this office, as I firmly believe we can identify a better, more sustainable approach. No amount of added housing density will cause a free market correction, bringing housing prices to an affordable level. Instead, it would likely trigger a frenzy benefiting developers while offering no immediate or long-term relief. Moreover, it would irrevocably alter the essence of our communities. The demand for housing is seemingly insatiable, and without zoning control, how can we fairly allocate the limited resource of water to support our community’s sustainability?

Our solutions must be distinct and highly targeted. This isn’t a novel problem for us, as it might be for those on the Front Range. We’ve been diligently addressing and providing workforce housing for over 30 years. While Avon and Vail have made solid efforts to introduce below-market and deed-restricted housing, there is still much more to be done.

One aspect lacking in previous efforts is a holistic approach encompassing all socioeconomic levels of housing. In the past, if you held a full-time professional job, you could aspire to enter the real estate market in our up-valley communities. Regrettably, first-time professionals no longer have this opportunity and must now seek homes down valley to align with their budget. Given our unique, elongated valley, this places considerable stress on transportation and quality of life.

We must strive to provide a wide range of housing units that are economically synchronized and deed-restricted to remain affordable. This will enable community members to move within our community as their lives evolve, accounting for changes such as marriage and the addition of children, or retirement. These solutions should be coordinated among each of our valley communities in a collaborative fashion, with a focus on delivering well-designed housing in close proximity to services, where people genuinely wish to reside, all done efficiently.

What unique perspectives can an architect bring to a town council? What skills apply to both the architecture profession and being an elected official?

During our one and only Candidate Forum, we were posed with a question about describing the ideal Council Candidate. Here’s my response:

The ideal candidate is someone who comprehends the physical character of the town, the intricacies of its neighborhoods, its climate, the living patterns of its residents, and their daily challenges. An ideal candidate approaches their constituents with open ears, listening attentively to their specific needs and aspirations. This candidate conducts research and studies the town’s nature, its residents, explores what other communities are doing, and seeks potential resources to uncover truths and understand how decisions might impact the town’s trajectory. The ideal candidate possesses a strong awareness of time and comprehends how choices made today will shape the future.

An ideal candidate demonstrates a profound sense of vision, capable of envisioning not just what exists but what could be, refining that vision while considering constraints like budget, functionality, sustainability, aesthetics, and enduring value, all without compromising the core of the vision or the dreams of their constituents. This candidate also grasps the mechanisms of government and the technical processes and decisions needed to transform that vision into reality.

What’s intriguing is that if you substitute “constituent” with “client” and “town” with “site,” this description also mirrors the perfect job profile for an architect. I firmly believe that more architects should step up and pursue public office, as we bring our problem-solving skills and three-dimensional design perspective to shape the future of our communities.

How can architects support your campaign?

If you have friends residing in the town of Vail, sending them an email to encourage their support would be greatly appreciated! Additionally, please visit and like my Instagram page (@sipesforvail) to help generate some buzz. I also have a website where I provide more in-depth insights on our community’s issues, which you can find at sipesforvail.com. Feel free to reach out to me at sipesforvail@gmail.com.

Thank you!

2023 Legislative Session Recap – Part 1

With the 2023 Colorado legislative session behind us, let’s take a look at the bills that will most impact the architecture profession.

Thank you to our Government Affairs Committee members and especially the legislative subcommittee members who collectively reviewed all 610 bills introduced.

2023 Legislative Subcommittee Roster

  • TJ Carvis, AIA (GAC Chair)
  • John Glenn, AIA (Board Liaison)
  • Scott Shea, AIA
  • Caleb Tobin, AIA
  • David Needleman, AIA
  • Brittany Goldsmith, Assoc. AIA
  • Ignacio Correa-Ortiz, AIA
  • Tana Lane, AIA
  • Paul Hutton, FAIA

And, as always, a special thanks to our lobbyist, Jerry Johnson, Hon. AIA CO. Jerry continues to work tirelessly on our behalf at the state capitol to help us succeed when we need to act.

The 2023 Legislative Session by the Numbers

This year, there were 610 bills introduced: 

  • 311 bills introduced in the House
    • 43 bills flagged as having potential interest to our members
    • 3 bills that AIA Colorado took formal action on.
  • 299 bills introduced in the Senate
    • 36 bills flagged as having potential interest to our members
    • 2 bills that AIA Colorado took formal action on.

In this article, we’re going to focus on the five bills where AIA Colorado took action:

House Bills

HB23-1005 New Energy Improvement Program Changes

AIA Colorado position: Support

Bill Status: PASSED

Colorado’s existing Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy Program (C-PACE) allows building owners to finance energy improvement projects through local property tax special assessment payments, instead of, or in addition to, a traditional bank loan. Local governments must opt into this program, but when available, effective rates are often more favorable than other loan types.

As a result of this new update, qualifying project types have been expanded into resiliency and water efficiency improvements. The program also no longer requires certain public notifications and meetings that were found to be a strictly bureaucratic step that didn’t have a meaningful effect on the application process.

Members affected: architecture firms with clients who want to go above and beyond minimum energy/water efficiency and resiliency requirements, but may not have the up-front funding for such improvements.

HB23-1233 Electric Vehicle Charging and Parking Requirements

AIA Colorado position: Support as amended

Bill Status: PASSED

Governor Polis vetoed last year’s attempt to require more commercial and multi-family residential buildings statewide to install or pre-wire for electric vehicle chargers. HB23-1233 scaled back the scope to focus on just 10,000SF and larger multi-family residential buildings already covered by the statewide energy code bill passed last year. New electric vehicle infrastructure/charger requirements will now go into effect statewide on covered projects submitting for building permits after March 1, 2024. More compliance details will be forthcoming when the state adopts the newest National Electric Code later this year.

Members affected: architecture firms that do multi-family residential projects above 10,000SF. Be sure to understand the applicable new Model Colorado Electric and Solar Ready Code requirements just finalized by the Colorado Energy Office. The electric vehicle charging provisions will go into effect even if a local building department hasn’t adopted the full package.

HB23-1302 Housing Accessibility

AIA Colorado position: Oppose

Bill Status: FAILED – voluntarily pulled by legislator who introduced the bill.

Existing Colorado law has a unique formula to determine how many Type A/B accessible units must be included in multi-family residential buildings. This bill would have changed the formula to increase these unit type counts and apply them to more residential building types, including a percentage of single family homes in a multi-home development. It also introduced certain clarifications to grey areas the current version of ICC/ANSI A117.1 for items such as smoke alarm and mailbox operable parts. If this were the extent of the scope, it’s unlikely AIA Colorado would have taken a position on the bill.

In addition, this bill also would have created a new category of discrimination lawsuit for buildings not constructed to required accessibility standards. Such a lawsuit could be filed against any “construction professional” who “participated” in the project, which in Colorado includes architects and professional engineers. This language was written with no requirement to determine fault before targeting every possible construction professional. This would have been a huge liability risk for architects even when our designs and construction documents were in compliance. We also could have been sued twice for accessibility-related construction defects. Once for the defect itself and again for discrimination. AIA Colorado testified in opposition to this bill in its first committee hearing, where its sponsor realized that it would be impossible to find a solution to the bill’s liability language so late in this year’s session.

SB23-016 Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Measures

AIA Colorado position: Support

Bill Status: PASSED

This far-reaching bill, introduced by AIA Colorado legislative champion, Senator Chris Hansen, covered 14 (eventually 25) different efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Colorado. Many of these were focused on utility infrastructure and oil/gas extraction, which are issues we don’t take positions on as they’re a step (or more) removed from the architecture profession. The important part of this bill is that it updated Colorado’s emission reduction goals to a full 100% reduction from 2005 level by 2050 instead of the existing 90% goal. It also added more interim steps along the way to better guide ongoing efforts. While these goals aren’t enforceable law on their own, they inform legislation and state policies and align with AIA’s own carbon emission reduction goals for the profession.

Members affected: in addition to air quality and climate improvements for everyone living in Colorado, we expect to see future statewide energy code updates in particular affected by this bill.

SB23-166 Establishment of a Wildfire Resiliency Code Board

AIA Colorado position: Support as amended

Bill Status: PASSED

In the aftermath of numerous recent wildfires throughout Colorado, legislators have recognized the value in better identifying at-risk areas and setting resiliency standards for buildings in these areas. This bill creates a state wildfire resiliency code board that will formalize a wildland-urban interface map and what code (such as the ICC IWUIC) the buildings in those areas will be designed to. While these codes will be used directly by architects, we didn’t have a seat on this board alongside local government representatives fire safety professionals.

AIA Colorado is proud to say we successfully lobbied to change one of the “building code professionals” on the board to specifically be a Colorado-licensed architect. We’ll have updates on this effort when the state puts out the request for nominations to this board.

If you have questions about any of the details in this report, please contact me at nikolaus@aiacolorado.org or call 303-228-3914.

2022 Legislator Awards Presentation

Both Rep. Bird and Sen. Simpson approach issues as problems to be solved, choose issues that will help the constituents and communities they serve, while avoiding ideological battles. They are smart, decent people, and fair in their approach to issues. AIA Colorado is lucky to have them as champions.

Jerry Johnson, lobbyist and Honorary Member of AIA Colorado

After an eventful campaign season last Fall and a highly productive legislative session this year, we were thrilled to honor Senator Cleave Simpson as AIA Colorado’s exceptional new legislator for 2022, alongside Representative Shannon Bird, our 2022 legislator of the year.

Senator Simpson was acknowledged for his instrumental role in sponsoring the 2021 continuing education bill and his persistent commitment to tackling Colorado’s pressing water issues.

Representative Bird has been an invaluable advocate for licensing bills, recognizing the importance of incorporating precise language in legislation that impacts professions and occupations regulated within Colorado, in alignment with nationwide standards and reciprocity systems.

Both legislators, AIA Colorado Board Members, and members of the Government Affairs Committee gathered for a luncheon at SAR+ to honor the recipients on May 12, 2023.

From Left to Right:

  • Senator Cleave Simpson
  • Nikolaus Remus, AIA, AIA Colorado Advocacy Engagement Director
  • Representative Shannon Bird
  • Mike Waldinger, Honorary AIA, AIA Colorado CEO
  • Sarah Broughton, FAIA, AIA Colorado Board President
  • Jerry Johnson
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SB23-213: Members Weigh the Pros and Cons of the Land Use and Housing Bill

This year’s legislative session has produced one of the most contentious bills we have ever seen that affects the architecture profession in SB23-213: Land Use. While most everyone agrees that we have a shortfall across the state for housing units in general, and for affordable housing in particular, this bill takes a heavy-handed approach that’s caused a lot of resentment from local governments who enact zoning codes. Colorado is also considered a “home rule” state, which is shorthand for how our constitution expressly gives certain powers to the state but otherwise defers to cities and counties. The state legislature must justify its efforts as being true matters of statewide concern, and it’s not clear this bill has succeeded in doing that. We have also heard strong opinions from our members across the state in both support and opposition to the bill.

For members not already familiar, this bill, as introduced (an important caveat that will be explained below), would empower the state to override certain restrictions in local zoning codes for residential development to address our housing shortage. It is important to note that while this bill would be in effect statewide, many provisions will only apply to municipalities that meet certain population criteria, mostly in urban areas of the state. Lots that are zoned as single-family residential would be required to allow accessory dwelling units (this requirement is the most far-reaching). Certain residential lots would be required to allow low-density multifamily residential buildings. Areas near public transit would be required to allow higher density multifamily residential projects.

SB23-213 clocks in at a hefty 105 pages, and late in the evening on April 18th, 17 amendments were adopted that significantly scale back the scope of who is affected and what the bill can impose. AIA Colorado is still evaluating these changes, but we can share a general summary. Rural resort communities will no longer be subject to most of the bill’s requirements; instead, will be given recommendations by a new advisory committee. A new menu of housing affordability strategies will be prepared to give local governments more flexibility in enacting their own plans, subject to minimum requirements. The “middle” housing category of requiring development of 2- to 6-unit projects has been scaled back to 4 units, and more conditions created to reduce where these would be required.

Before we delve into member perspectives, it’s important to note that SB23-213 has only had its first committee hearing. The bill sponsors have publicly stated that more amendments are forthcoming and will be considered on the senate floor. If the bill passes in the senate, it still has to be approved first by a house committee and then via full house floor votes. Governor Polis supports this bill and is anticipated to sign it into law.

Nikolaus Remus, AIA, Advocacy Engagement Director, AIA Colorado

In Favor

I am a Colorado licensed and NCARB certified architect, an AIA member, a graduate of the ULI Real Estate Diversity Initiative Program (REDI) and I am on the Better Boulder Board of Directors. I have worked in Colorado since 1999. I have first hand experience with the land use codes and the permitting processes in many cities and towns across the state. In the last few years, I have become a regular at planning board and city council meetings when housing is on the agenda because I know that architects have expertise and a working knowledge of land use and building codes that the general public does not. I show up and testify because using my voice, my education, and experience might improve the access to housing for thousands of people. That makes the long hours and time spent worthwhile.

I view the passing of this bill as a critical moment in Colorado’s history. We are facing a housing crisis, as well as issues related to climate change and transportation. As they say, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. The scarcity of housing in our state is directly linked to our exclusionary zoning codes and the local control measures we have tried have not worked. The data shows us how many housing units we are lacking. The cost and scarcity of housing is a statewide problem that requires a statewide solution, with everyone working together to address it.

Rosie Fivian, AIA, Y Rosemary Fivian Architect Inc

In Opposition

Fundamentally, the assumptions regarding the cause and effect of affordability in our region are flawed. Increasing supply will not lower costs because local buyers will still compete with vacation home buyers and be outbid. There will never be enough supply in our geographically constrained areas to meet demand, and uncontrolled growth could severely impact the quality of life. Uncontrolled growth in the human body is called cancer, and we should consider this analogy.

Zoning restrictions are not the primary cause of real estate pricing; outside dollars and demand are driving up costs. However, zoning does an excellent job managing what is appropriate for our more fragile mountain environments and generally focuses on higher density in more walkable areas. Most mountain communities are long, narrow valleys, so planning where density should occur has a direct impact on transit costs and other factors of affordability, such as walking to services and daycare. Taking away local control and knowledge about how to build here is asinine, heavy-handed, and will ultimately do nothing to solve the problem. We need a solution that addresses the root cause of the economics (and it is not only supply). Financial support from the state to create a completely separate economy comprising a diverse offering of housing types, all deed-restricted, is needed. I do agree that these should never be segregated, but rather integrated throughout the community. However, high-density smaller units with no input on their location is not the answer.

Brian Sipes, AIA, Principal, LEED AP at Sipes Architects

Letter from the President

Hello AIA Colorado Members,

It is my honor to be your 2023 AIA Colorado President. Thank you for your trust and support as we have embarked on another year full of exciting opportunities and fulfillment of goals. I hope that 2023 has started strong for each of you and that you share my optimism surrounding our impact in the built environment.

Last week, Julianne Scherer, AIA (President-Elect), Zach Taylor, AIA (National Strategic Council Representative) and Mike Waldinger, Honorary AIA (CEO) represented AIA Colorado in Washington DC at the annual Leadership Summit. After a two-year hiatus of being together, it was ever more powerful to gather with the national, state and component leaders to discuss the issues of today and reach into the future. 

We spent Wednesday, February 15th, lobbying on Capital Hill, each state with their respective house of representatives and senators, bringing their attention to two bi-partisan bills. 

The Democracy In Design Act is a response to mandated design styles for federal buildings and says instead that communities across the country would work with project architects to design federal buildings consistent with their preferences, context, aspirations and design traditions. Can you imagine the US Air Force Campus and the iconic chapel if there were a proscribed classical style required?

The Resilient AMERICA Act would make significant changes to the federal government’s ability to prepare communities for future natural disaster events by:

  • Increasing funding for FEMA’s pre-disaster mitigation grant program (the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) Program).
  • Supporting additional BRIC Programs set aside funding for resilient building code adoption and implementation.
  • Recognizing wildfire prevention and recovery as eligible for support which is crucial for states like Colorado. Access to this program is limited though as long as we lack a statewide baseline building code. Passage of this law helps put pressure on the state legislature to follow suit.

Further, we took the opportunity to discuss with each of our elected official’s staff AIA Colorado’s focus on housing and how we as architects can lend our expertise to helping solve our growing state need.  Stay tuned for more on this subject as the year progresses.

I also want to give a big shout out to our Government Affairs Committee (GAC) and our Advocacy Engagement Director, Nik Remus, AIA. Thank you for researching, reviewing, and advocating for us all year round and for making sure AIA Colorado is staying in front of legislative items affecting our built environment and the profession.

Being in Washington DC, not only representing over 2,500 state members, but being part of our 96,000-member strong organization, brought me immense pride and feeling of inclusivity. We had many discussions about the importance of being a citizen architect. As trained problem solvers who are conditioned to be forward looking, I would encourage you to get involved in your local communities on commissions or councils, sit your school boards, and volunteer for committees. We are respected and needed to help shape our future. In addition, AIA National has a full-time team advocating for our profession and if you have not already given to ArchiPAC, please consider donating today, every dollar is needed.

I also have been reflecting on my personal journey of being a citizen architect. Starting as an Associate AIA, then licensed AIA, to being elevated to College of Fellows last year, I am forever grateful to AIA for making me a better architect and citizen architect in my communities. Through AIA, I have had a growing network for over 25 years of employers, colleagues, and partners who have consistently supported me and enhanced my different career stages. I look forward to getting even more connected with members this year. 

Starting last year, the AIA Colorado board has met in the different state sections throughout the year.  Please save the dates for get togethers in each section: March 2 – North Section (Boulder), May 11 – South Section (Colorado Springs), July 27 – West Section (Aspen), October 6 – Denver Section

“Nothing will work unless you do.” – Maya Angelo

With Respect,

Sarah Broughton, FAIA

AIA Colorado 2023 President

2022 Elections and How They Impact The Architecture Profession

The dust has settled on the 2022 elections and we’d like to let our members know what to expect as we look ahead to the 2023 legislative session here in Colorado.

Races for all four statewide offices (Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, and Treasurer) always occur during presidential midterm elections. This year all four Democratic incumbents got re-elected by margins ranging from 10 to 19 points over their opponents. Of these offices, the Governor’s race is by far the most impactful to architects though. Governor Polis is a strong proponent for combatting climate change and for reducing carbon emissions in particular. Not only does Governor Polis have his own legislative agenda, state agencies that matter to us (such our DORA regulatory board, the Colorado Energy Office, and the Office of the State Architect) are executive branch agencies and their work is influenced as well. We’ve seen the Colorado Energy Office gain new responsibilities related to building energy use and will continue to look for opportunities to work together on new legislation and implementation of laws passed in recent years.

This has been a tricky year for predictions with new legislative districts across the state based on the 2020 census. This was also the first time in Colorado that districts were created by non-partisan commissions with specific fairness and competitiveness criteria. Compared to previous decades, there was a much bigger change in district borders and incumbents found themselves with sizable numbers of new constituents. Finally, issues that have historically been tied to the federal government also impacted voter decisions in local races more than in most elections but was difficult to quantify before the votes were counted. 

All 65 House seats are up on the ballot every two years and Democrats had a sizable 41-24 majority coming into the elections. This was anticipated to shrink somewhat but instead grew to a 46-19 supermajority in the chamber. Over in the senate, 17 of 35 seats were on the ballot. Democrats started with a 20-15 majority, but Republicans believed that the new districts gave them a real chance at regaining control. However, Democrats won every competitive race and with former Republican Kevin Priola changing parties in August, they now have a 23-12 advantage.

ARCpac and ARCsdc made contributions to 18 total candidates this year, splitting checks between 13 Democrats and 5 Republicans whose expertise and values align with the architecture profession. Candidates we supported won in 14 of these races and we’re well-positioned to build new and strengthen existing relationships.

There was a solid blue wave in Colorado this year, but what does it mean? In the last two years, AIA Colorado has seen a significant increase in climate and carbon bills that align with our sustainability imperative. We’ll continue to partner with legislators on these bills to ensure they understand how architects work and how we can realize shared goals successfully. We will remain vigilant for bills that unfairly increase risk and liability for architects in contracts and construction defect lawsuits that are more likely to get introduced by Democrats. Affordable housing is another topic that we expect to see more of and look forward to opportunities to share our expertise in tackling this difficult subject. We’re setting the stage for a successful architecture licensing bill that we know will be introduced in the 2024 session.

Finally, just like in every election, there will be a lot of new faces in the general assembly in 2023. If you know your state representative or senator, we’d love to hear from you! Personal connections with constituents are one of the most effective ways we can make our voices heard and AIA Colorado can’t do it without help from our members.

AIA Colorado Advocacy Engagement Director Nikolaus Remus and AIA Colorado lobbyist Jerry Johnson

© AIA Colorado 2024
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