On March 16, the Trump administration released its preliminary 2018 budget proposal. The proposal identifies specific changes the President wants to make to federal programs and funding priorities. 

We are asking your help in assessing the impact of this budget proposal — particularly as it relates to the work you do as architects and to the built environment overall. While some aspects of the Administration’s proposed budget have been termed “dead on arrival,” others are very likely to be incorporated into the budget proposal being crafted by Congressional leaders.

As architects, you have a unique perspective and skill set; that of systems thinkers. Many organizations are already talking about the pros and cons of specific aspects of this budget proposal. You have the ability to assess the interdependencies — to map the potential impact of key aspects of this proposal from a broader perspective. You also can bring expertise to how this proposal would affect Minnesota-based projects and your work in this state, information of inherent interest to our Minnesota Congressional delegation.

Just a few days ago, AIA Minnesota and local chapter leaders participated in the AIA Grassroots event. They met with the staff of several members of Congress, from both sides of aisle, and offered AIA Minnesota as a resource in making sense of legislative proposals related to the built environment and the work of the architecture profession. 

To make good on that offer of being a go-to resource, we need your help in dissecting and mapping the potential impact of the aspects of the budget proposal for which you, our members, can draw upon your experience and expertise. The information and insights you provide will form the basis of what is communicated to Minnesota’s U.S. Senators and Representatives.

Utilize the form below to post your insights.

And if you want to gather a small group locally, email the outcomes of your conversation to info@aia-mn.org

Three relevant links:

User-friendly overview of the budget proposal
AIA Statement of Values
AIA Public Policies & Position Statements

Share your insights related to the Trump Budget

Please refrain from partisan or political discussions; discussion of motivations or of individuals, including President Trump. To be most efficient and effective in our efforts, we need to focus on facts, experience, and informed projections. This budget proposal has significant implications for the future of the profession, for our clients’ goals, and for the end users we serve. Focused input is our best and fastest way forward.

 

Insights from AIA Minnesota members

Most of my clients are public housing entities. The proposed cuts to HUD has all of my clients thinking that they will have a hard time paying for small ongoing maintenance and are likely not going embark on an major renovation projects since they fear not having funding to cover them. If this is what happens I will lose 20 to 25% of my business.  – Daniel Dege

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The proposed cuts to HUD and associated funding sources will have a very significant affect on our non-profit affordable housing development community and the many residents they serve, in the ability to produce new quality housing to meet the growing need, the ability to stabilize and maintain existing affordable housing – some of which is in dire need of maintenance, and in the ability of low income residents to find affordable housing. This affects a significant population of low income residents of the state who are very vulnerable to shortages of affordable housing, and of course would also have a significant impact on the local non-profit affordable housing development community and their partners, including architects.  – Michelle Pribyl

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The proposed budget eliminates several programs vital to continued research on the effects of climate change. Budget cuts to the EPA, NASA, NOAA, the Department of Energy, and other departments will slow or restrict significant research, setting the US behind other counties in the world and taking a step backward in our efforts to combat the worst effects of climate change. The AIA’s Public Policies directly support energy efficient, low-carbon design as a means to promote a sustainable future for all. By denying climate change research funding, these budget cuts turn a blind eye to one of the most fundamentally important challenges facing architects in the years and decades to come.


Our office works every day to design projects for our clients that are energy efficient, resilient, healthy, and sustainable in order to leave a smaller footprint on our planet. But we are only one firm, trying to make a difference one project at a time. If these federal programs are cut, we could limit the broader effort of our entire country working to combat climate change, and would instead be choosing to deny and under-fund the issue rather than rising up and embracing the challenge. While some of these federal departments may not directly include the work of architects, the sound science which is produced impacts our profession and our shared goals of balancing the built and natural environment.

As an Architect and AIA member, I believe it’s imperative we stand up to support the science of climate change, and stand against any budget cuts which would restrict its research.  – Mike Refsland

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The proposed budget eliminates Energy Star from the Department of Energy. The Energy Star program has two vital roles that directly impact the lives of Minnesotans, and all Americans:

First, many building owners, building managers, architects, and others use the Energy Star Portfolio Manager to track the energy and water consumption of their buildings. This simple online program helps keep a running log of energy/water use on one or multiple buildings, allows you to compare energy use between your buildings, or compare your data against national numbers. I used Portfolio Manager myself at a previous firm to track our own building’s energy use. The simple act of tracking energy use led to internal studies of energy efficiency interventions, which in turn reduced our overall energy use and provided cost savings to the company. This program is an excellent and vital resource for tracking building energy and water use, and is required in Minneapolis for commercial properties of a certain size. This will provide a wealth of information about how certain buildings perform, where efficiency measures would have the highest payback, and how different types of buildings compare against others within the City.

Second, the Energy Star program helps American households find energy efficient HVAC equipment, doors and windows, appliances, water heaters, televisions and myriad other products for our everyday lives. At this exact moment, I have no fewer than 5 appliances and electronics in my home which I purposely purchased for their Energy Star label. We’re all familiar with the bright yellow sticker showing most and least energy used, and where that particular product registers on the scale. This simple label helps consumers pick more energy efficient products, and that small change multiplied across thousands of consumer purchases a day, makes an incredible impact in our national energy consumption.  – Mike Refsland

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Since the scope of these proposed budget cuts and their potential impacts are so far reaching, I feel this assessment has to be considered from multiple perspectives: 

First, speaking as someone who works primarily in aviation design, I worry about the consequences of eliminating subsides provided by the Essential Air Service program. I have worked on an airport that benefits from EAS funding, and our firm as a whole has worked on several. Without EAS subsides in place, midsize regional airports may lose the passenger demand to justify their facility improvements. Additionally, residents of these communities could lose an essential connection to larger International airports.

Secondly, speaking as a volunteer with the Minnesota Design Team, I see several components of this budget proposal that target and eliminate programs designed to serve rural communities. Grant funding can be a critical part of helping small towns build capacity for and implement planning and design initiatives. Many cities in rural Minnesota, including several that MDT has visited, have directly benefited from the Regional Development Commissions funded by the Economic Development Administration – a program that would be eliminated under this proposal. 

Lastly, speaking as a recent graduate with significant student debt, I feel it is worth calling attention to the fact that nothing in this budget proposal serves to address the student loan crisis, and instead, proposes significant cuts to work study programs that many students depend on to lessen the initial debt they take on.  – Jeremy Stock

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The American Institute of Architects works to advance our nation’s quality of life and protect the public’s health, safety and welfare. The proposed budget cuts eliminate money for information sharing and scientific research on climate change via the EPA, NASA and the State Department; eliminate funding for the Arts and Humanities, including Public Broadcasting; cut funding for HUD; cut funding for small-business development and growth; cut funding for UN peacekeeping and cultural exchange; and cut funding for Federal Prison construction. In response, the AIA should be a voice for the following issues:

  1. Environmental research, education, and action plans for responsible resource use. Support for public broadcasting is integral to support for free research agendas, and the dissemination of multi-sourced information. Public broadcasting provides information to the public with the intent to educate – not only entertain.
  2. Development and support for public transit, housing, and businesses in low-income communities. At urban planning level (allocation of financial resources and holistic view of community needs), and at architectural level (funding for renovations, maintenance and new construction).
  3. Development and support of the arts in all communities. Architecture is part art. Support of art, music, literature, etc. increases the recognition and value of architecture as a work with subjective qualities. 
  4. Support for cultural exchange and diplomacy. Design benefits from authentic and diverse voices. Cultural exchange and diplomacy, nationally and internationally, helps to build a broader understanding of well-designed cities, systems, buildings and spaces between, that can be transformed into design benefiting local communities. Additionally, building and construction requires partnerships. These partnerships are essential to improving the built environment, and contributing to the economy.
  5. Finally, the AIA stands for human and civil rights, and the unbiased treatment of all persons; access to good design is a fundamental right. As budgets for infrastructure, institutional environments and other government funded projects are revised, the AIA should speak for the improvement of physical (and thus psychological) conditions of these places. Our voices are especially needed to guide the development of prisons, where architects are agents in creating environmental conditions that represent the values of policy makers and the criminal justice system, yet function to serve inmates with human physio/psychological needs that may not align with system values. The AIA should be a stronger voice to speak for environmental conditions that work toward the goal of prisoner rehabilitation – and design that does not discriminate. Prisons are part of our civic infrastructure, and their current conditions do not contribute towards a healthy criminal justice system.
Thank you for providing this forum.  – Carrie Bly