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.

About the Author

Alisa Rice

Alisa Rice, AIA, ACHA, EDAC, LSSWB, is a Senior Associate, Senior Healthcare Planner, Project Manager and Architect at Hord Coplan Macht, in Denver, Colorado.

She has more than 25 years of experience focusing on healthcare planning and design. Rice's ability to listen and collaborate complements her passion for healthcare design, allowing her to create efficient and healing environments for patients, family, and staff. She is skilled at building strong client relationships and working with user groups to develop a comprehensive understanding of program requirements, medical planning concepts, and solutions to fit each clients’ unique project needs. As a healthcare architect with 30 years of professional experience, she seamlessly leads teams and accurately produces a variety of inpatient and outpatient healthcare facilities ranging from replacement hospitals to renovations during predesign through building occupancy.

Rice is also the AIA Colorado 2021 Editorial Committee Representative for the Academy of Architecture for Health Steering Committee.

© AIA Colorado 2021