AIACC: Advocates for Efficient Design

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Architects have both the opportunity and responsibility to protect and enhance the delicate interface between the natural and the built-environment, while charged with the investment and protection of the earth’s precious and limited resources as they partner in the creation of the built-environment.


The American Institute of Architects, California Council (AIACC) encourages all architects and related professionals to implement energy and resource-conscious and water-conserving design and technology, and to do so with a design emphasis on total building performance.

The AIACC advocates for environmental responsibility and the sustainable use of water, natural resources, and both renewable and limited energy sources and supports code development and legislation toward that end.

How about Some Facts?

% of energy consumption found in built environment
% of non-residential new construction will be Zero Net Energy by 2030
% of existing commercial space will be ZNE by 2030
billion sq ft of diverse commercial space in CA

Legislative Advocacy

Our Legislature is the voice of the people of California. As architects, we listen to our clients, the people, and what they choose for the future. But we are also professionals with the responsibility to inform and raise the awareness of the public, including elected officials, to the impact of design and construction on the environment.


AB 39 – California Clean Energy Jobs Act, passed as Proposition 39 in November 2012.
AB 32 – California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.

Regulatory Agencies & Regulations

Architects and the AIACC are taking on the challenges of AB 32, 2020, 2030, and Zero Net Energy. By understanding the why and where of regulations from the California Energy Commission and California Public Utilities Commission, we support our relevancy to our state’s need for the built-environment to be responsibly designed and constructed.

CPUC: California Long Term Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan 2011 – Dating back to 1912, the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) regulates privately owned electric, natural gas, telecommunications, water, railroad, and passenger transportation companies. The CPUC recognized that California‘s very ambitious energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction goals require long-term strategic planning to eliminate persistent market barriers and effect lasting transformation in the market for energy efficiency across the economy. Accordingly, the Commission committed to prepare and adopt a long-term strategic plan for California energy efficiency through 2020 and beyond.

CPUC: ZNE Action Plan– Finalized in 2012, the Zero Net Energy (ZNE) Action Plan is designed to help California’s commercial building sector achieve the goals described in the California Long Term Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan.

CEC – The California Energy Commission (CEC) is the state’s primary energy policy and planning agency. Created by the Legislature in 1974, six basic responsibilities guide the CEC as it sets state energy policy: 1. Forecasts future energy needs; 2. Promotes energy efficiency and conservation by setting the state’s appliance and building efficiency standards; 3. Supports public interest energy research that advances energy science and technology; 4. Develops renewable energy resources and alternative renewable energy technologies for buildings, industry, and transportation; 5. Licenses thermal power plants 50 megawatts or larger; and 6. Plans for and directs state response to energy emergencies.


We live in a world where the means to design change constantly due to the nature of the technical. the following section is a culmination of resources to help one navigate the world of sustainability and all of its various energy-related challenges and opportunities.


Water-Energy Nexus

The Future of Designing (With) Water

Water – Over the next century, water resources will become a central issue to the quality of human life forcing designers to rethink how water is used and distributed.

Water – Over the next century, water resources will become a central issue to the quality of human life forcing designers to rethink how water is used and distributed.


Lighting and Human Health | 2013-04-11 | ED+C Magazine – It has long been understood that poor lighting is not only associated with an adverse environment, but light impacts human health and performance by four main mechanisms.


‘Emerging Technologies’ for Making Buildings More Energy Efficient Would Get an Increased Emphasis under Obama’s New Plan – From ConstructionPro Network: In its crusade to foster more energy-efficient buildings across America, the Obama administration wants to place a much larger financial emphasis on emerging technologies, according to ConstructionPro Week’s analysis of the recently released fiscal 2014 budget request.

The Value of Building Data – Implementing a measurement and verification plan is an essential component to meet facility sustainability goals.


Best Practices for K-12 Schools Solar Photovoltaic Systems | 2011-10-26 | ED+C Magazine – Installing solar energy systems on public schools can help school districts save money on their utility bills, reduce carbon emissions, support job creation and provide students with opportunities to learn about clean energy.

Let the Sun Shine In | 2013-04-02 | ED+C Magazine – Advanced glazings and daylighting systems can help forge the road to zero-energy buildings and significant savings, but only if daylighting designs can avoid unwanted solar heat gain and glare.

Regional Avenue EUI – – The United States has a robust public database of operational building energy use (the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey, or CBECS) and a powerful, free online tool which analyzes this and other data (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star Target Finder).

Resource Efficiency



Zero Net Energy Home – Envisioning a lifestyle of renewable energy for home and transportation, the Honda Smart Home US will feature new and emerging technologies to greatly reduce the amount of energy consumed by individual households, and will provide a pathway for the full integration of electric vehicles into the home.

Towards a Climate-Friendly Built Environment – This Pew Center report is part of the effort to examine key sectors, technologies, and policy options to construct the “10-50 Solution” to climate change. The idea is that we need to tackle climate change over the next fifty years, one decade at a time. Looking at options for the near (10 years) and long (50 years) term, this report yields the following insights for reducing GHG emissions from the largest portion of our nation’s physical wealth – our built environment.

The Greenest Building: Quantifying the Environmental Value of Building Reuse – This study provides the most comprehensive analysis-to-date of the potential environmental impact reductions associated with building reuse. It compares the relative environmental impacts of building reuse and renovation versus new construction over the course of a 75-year life span.

2013 SBD Participant Handbook – Savings By Design (SBD) is California’s nonresidential new construction energy efficiency program, administered statewide and funded by Utility customers through the Public Purpose Programs surcharge applied to gas and electric services. Projects participating in Savings By Design receive services including design assistance, Owners Incentives, Design Team Incentives, and Energy Design Resources. Services begin in the project design phase and continue through construction completion.

Case for Green Build Executive Summary – This report investigates the business costs and benefits of green building in five vital categories and finishes with an exploration into both the impacts that a greener built environment can have at a macro scale and how this can be achieved.

EDC GreenbookEDC Magazine provides education for designing, constructing, remodeling, operating and maintaining the sustainable built environment. The EDC GREENBook is a Sustainable Product + Resource Guide, available online to members of the USGBC or by purchase of a print copy.

AIA Integrating Energy Modeling in the Design Process – With the increasing awareness and focus on sustainability, the twenty-first century architect must become fluent with vocabulary and technologies that predict, test, and quantify energy performance in buildings. This fluency is essential to respond to the requirements of new green building codes and savvy clients who demand to know how actual performance matches predictions of energy consumption by their design team. The energy model and focus on energy performance is not meant to supplant the importance of design. Rather, a building energy model is a tool that can be utilized throughout the design process to test various design options and optimize the performance of all building typologies.

Green+Schools+Investment+Guide – This guide outlines how architects can team up with schools and districts to design and implement comprehensive strategies that simultaneously improve the wellness of students and staff, enhance learning conditions and set strong examples of sustainability for our communities.

ZNE Action Plan 2010 – This Zero Net Energy (ZNE) Action Plan is designed to help California‘s commercial buildings sector achieve the goals described in the California Long Term Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan by the CPUC (the Strategic Plan or the Plan).

Sustainability Leadership Opportunity Scan – This report summarizes current sustainability activities within the AIA and with partner and ancillary organizations. It also identifies a few specific priority areas for the AIA to focus its resources.


Green Existing Builds – EDC Magazine

The CBECS and Why It’s Important | 2013-04-02 | ED+C Magazine – The Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS), prepared by the US Department of Energy, is akin to a national census of building performance. Considering the building design and construction industry’s current focus on performance date, not to mention the leaps and bounds made by green building standards over the past decade, the CEBECS could not have come at a better time.

Selling Sustainability Within Corporate America – Once relegated to the basement office as far as possible from the C-suite just a decade ago, companies from Nike to Ford Motor to yes, Walmart, are taking sustainability seriously.

After LEED– GBCI (Green Building Certification Institute) has ethics standards for LEED Accredited Professionals, and the LEED team has a responsibility to uphold the integrity of the project certification.

Proposal for Benchmarking Building Energy Use re: AB 802

Center for the Built Environment: CBE Thermal Comfort Tool – A tool for predicting human comfort resulting from HVAC, building and facade design decisions.

SB Tool Overview – To improve building performance, we must first be able to measure it. This system is a rating framework or toolbox and only becomes a rating tool after a third party calibrates it for their region by defining scope and setting weights, context and performance benchmarks The system is therefore a very useful international benchmarking tool, one that provides signals to local industry on the state of performance in their region, while also providing absolute data for international comparisons.

C2ES Center for Climate and Energy Solutions – formerly the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.

Future of LEED – This graph shows where LEED plans to go in relation to building codes and net positive.

LEED Comparison – Graph showing the comparison between LEED with ASHRAE standards.



Architects are finding that fact-based design is becoming the norm for today’s client who demands the most efficient utilization of their building funds. Research and rich data are available from many sources, made more relevant and accessible through current computing power and the necessities of climate change.


 Business Case for Green Buildings Report – In recent years, a wide range of studies and reports have outlined elements of the ‘business case’ for green buildings, but this report is the first attempt to synthesize all credible evidence from around the world into one definitive resource, complete with global examples and thought pieces from leading experts.

California Energy Commission Staff Report – The CEC reported in August 2012 on its Comprehensive Energy Efficieny Program for Existing Buildings Scoping. This scoping report document is the first of two documents that will collectively serve as the foundation and roadmap for implementing the Comprehensive Energy Efficiency Program for Existing Buildings as required by Assembly Bill 758 (Skinner, Chapter 470, Statutes 2009).

Certification System Review – GSA completed its most recent evaluation of green building certification systems in March 2012. This evaluation includes certification systems for new construction, major renovations and existing buildings (ongoing operations).

Financing K-12 Solar – This document focuses on financial options developed specifically for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, including the traditional methods of financing capital investments at schools.

Public Health-Built Environment – The purpose of this report is to better understand the specific development patterns and changes to the built environment that will have a significant impact on public health.

VOX-Global 2012 Sustainablity Leaders Survey – “Sustainability,” little more than a buzzword in the corridors of corporate America a decade ago, is today a business concept that has been embraced by many companies in principle and, increasingly, in practice.

WET Needs Assessment Executive Summary – The “California Workforce Education and Training Needs Assessment for Energy Efficiency, Demand Response, and Distributed Generation” was called for in the California Long Term Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan, adopted by the CPUC in September 2008.
Workforce Education -Contains reports generated on workforce education for the new energy economy.

Pacific Energy Center 2012 Architectural Curriculum Workshop Summary Report – On June 13, 2012 PG&E’s Pacific Energy Center (PEC) assembled a group of energy efficiency, architecture, and training experts to advise in the establishment of “a multi-level architecture and integrated design curriculum that responds to the priorities laid out in the California Long Term Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan, as well as the California Workforce Education and Training Needs Assessment for Energy Efficiency, Distributed Generation, and Demand Response.


Attend or listen in to any of the events posted to gain an appreciation of the complicated and critical nature of climate change and its effect on our profession. Our relevancy to climate change solutions is directly proportionate to the level and quality of knowledge and training that we bring to our communities.


  • Free Energy Code Software Training –Click here for information on obtaining Energy Code Software Training.
  • Pacific Energy Center – All classes are sponsored by PG&E and are offered at no cost to California investor-owned utility customers and building professionals with projects in California. Resources for architects include Heliodon use for shading studies, an Overcast Sky Simulator, Solar geometry and Radiation Calculators, and a Guide to California Climate Zones.
  • Southern California Edison
    Southern California Edison’s Energy Education Center – Irwindale – The Energy Education Center – Irwindale offers a wide range of free classes, workshops and resources specifically tailored for architects, engineers, building and facility owners/managers, energy consultants and builders. Many of our classes also carry AIA Learning Units to help keep you on your career track while expanding and building your knowledge and skills.

    Energy Center Class Calendar

  • SMUD Classes – Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) workshop topics cover lighting, solar energy, and energy efficiency. They also offer online tools, printed materials, interactive exhibits, and an energy reference room.
    Be ready to comply with the 2013 Building Energy Efficiency Standards on July 1UPDATES APPROVED ON APRIL 22, 2014
    The Energy Commission approved an updated version of California Building Energy Code Compliance for Commercial (CBECC-Com) at its April 22, 2014 Business Meeting. The new version will be available May 1. CBECC-Com improvements include a 2D simplified geometric input method, and for additions and alterations to existing buildings (also known as Existing+Additions+Alterations projects, or E+A+A).CBECC-Com is a public domain software program developed by the Energy Commission to determine compliance with the 2013 Building Energy Efficiency Standards. CBECC-Com uses Energy Plus v8.0 to perform simulations and Sketchup (v8.0/Pro) with OpenStudio-SketchUp plug-in for geometry input. Instructions and links for downloading the compliance software and the associated supporting software are located at is the only program currently approved for the performance approach (energy budget) method of demonstrating compliance with the 2013 Standards for non-residential buildings. Up-to-date information about all Energy Commission-approved software is located at

    CBECC-Com software is linked on the Energy Commission’s Building Energy Efficiency Standards training webpage at To get started with CBECC-Com, a series of short tutorial videos helps users understand the software workflow, and specific features.

    Visit the FAQs for more information on CBECC-Com. If you experience any issues with the software, please use the Submit an Issue feature to help improve the user experience.

    For assistance with the 2013 Building Energy Efficiency Standards, contact the Energy Standards Hotline toll-free in California at 800-772-3300 and outside California at 916-654-5106, or via email at

    For more information on the Energy Commission’s energy efficiency programs, please subscribe to our listservs at Select either “efficiency” or “building standards”.

    Ann Shimasaki
    Statewide Outreach and Education

    California Energy Commission

Title 24 Training: Decoding CXR, Let’s Talk Nonres Commissioning

This training is important, and we can stress that enough. We understand that a topic such as building commissioning to ensure energy efficiency now required for all new nonresidential buildings in California per the 2013 code may not float to the top of your priority list. And, it’s true that it is unlikely even 5% of AIACC members have actually had a project permitted since July 1, 2014, with this new code requirement enforced. However, its language and stipulations are being carried over into the 2016 code draft language, with the more far reaching requirement for existing buildings under renovation to undergo building commissioning, as well as new. For more information and to register click here.



Contact Us

Address: 1303 J Street, Ste. 200, Sacramento, CA 95814

Phone: (916) 448-9082


The AIACC Energy and the Built-Environment Steering Committee is comprised of recognized leaders in energy efficient buildings and sustainability, assembled to discuss and suggest steps in an energy initiative assisting the State of California’s 2020, 2030, and Zero Net Energy efforts and to prepare our members to meet the energy building code updates coming with the 2013, 2016, and 2019 code cycles.