AIA Minnesota Government Affairs 2024 Legislative Priorities

The AIA Minnesota Government Affairs committee created the following legislative priorities for the 2024 session, which have been approved by the AIA Minnesota board of directors.

Climate Action and Resilience: AIA Minnesota recognizes the threat posed to our built and natural environments by climate change. It supports measures across industries that reduce carbon emissions, encourage energy-efficient design and whole-building life cycle assessments and design approaches, and foster resilient and regenerative buildings and systems. These regenerative buildings and systems should account for water and energy management, the health and happiness of occupants, equity considerations, and aesthetics, recognizing that resonant and enduring spaces have an increased likelihood of long-term use and reuse.

AIA Minnesota supports efforts to transform energy use and embodied carbon. The minimum goal is to achieve carbon neutral and reduced embodied carbon new construction, major renovations and retrofits by 2030 (the B3/SB2030 program), and a fully carbon neutral/reduced embodied carbon built environment by 2050. AIA Minnesota also supports Minnesota-based and national firms adopting the AIA 2030 commitment and efforts to revise the definition of health, safety, and welfare in state and local codes to reflect the growing bodies of knowledge in resilience, equitable design, and advanced building performance.

AIA Minnesota supports policies, programs, and practices that promote adaptable, resilient, and regenerative buildings and communities. This includes creating zoning and planning policies and practices that recognize and address historical discrimination patterns, climate change impacts, and environmental justice concerns. AIA Minnesota supports policies that adapt to evolving conditions, promote ownership among people who have historically faced discrimination in lending and financing, and support people to recover more readily, effectively, and efficiently from destructive events.

Healthy Materials: AIA Minnesota supports efforts to achieve healthy built and natural spaces by promoting non-toxic building materials and discouraging the use of chemical antimicrobial finishes, which can have unintended negative health impacts. AIA Minnesota supports the preference of products from manufacturers who have chosen to disclose the contents of their products transparently.

Disaster Assistance: AIA Minnesota supports the active involvement of architects in disaster assistance efforts, providing valuable insights and aid to communities before, during, and after a destructive event.

Housing: Housing is a basic human need. Therefore, it must be considered a basic human right, and there is a significant need to improve access and quality. AIA Minnesota supports policies, programs, and incentives to promote the design, construction, renovation, rehabilitation, preservation, and stabilization of high-quality, safe, healthy, affordable, sustainable, and resilient housing within the means of all people, including temporary housing and shelter options. In addition, AIA Minnesota supports regional, non-traditional, holistic approaches to solving the housing crisis, and advocates for higher-density housing near transit and equitable development, zoning, and planning practices, including acknowledgment of historical and current racial disparities that place undue burdens on communities at an economic disadvantage. AIA Minnesota seeks policy solutions that address the workforce and affordable housing challenges in Greater Minnesota, where a variety of housing options that make all Minnesota communities livable is desperately needed.

State Capital Investment and Bonding: AIA Minnesota supports a robust, regular, and predictable bonding process that provides appropriate funding for predesign and design work related to all projects and encourages sustainable, resilient, and regenerative design and upgrades of public projects. Bonding should account for both new construction and renovation of existing public facilities. Bonding should also be a reliable statewide community and economy booster rather than being perennially used as a political bargaining chip.

Tax Policies & Incentives:  AIA Minnesota supports tax and regulatory policies that foster the financial success of architecture firms and members of the profession, in the context of a fair tax code and the economic wellbeing of all Minnesotans. AIA Minnesota opposes expansion of the sales tax in Minnesota to include professional services. AIA Minnesota supports tax incentives that promote energy efficiency, resilience, historic preservation, affordable housing, and equitable community and economic development.

Design for Public Health: AIA Minnesota supports renewed emphasis on the built environment’s impact on public health. Spatial solutions at the intersection of public health and architecture – as related to preparation for and response to pandemics – must be comprehensive and equitable. Policies concerning public project design should incorporate lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and embrace new technologies, layouts, and design elements that are responsive to public health needs, including HVAC considerations and a reduction in the use of chemical antimicrobial finishes. See also Climate Action and Resilience policy on healthy materials.

Building Codes: AIA Minnesota supports regulation by a set of comprehensive, coordinated, and contemporary building codes and standards that establish sound thresholds of health, safety, and the protection of the public welfare in Minnesota and remain separated from the political process. To that end, AIA Minnesota advocates for the development and adoption of model building codes that:

  • Include participation by architects and the public in a consensus-driven process;
  • Are the product of informed education, experience, and scientific research;
  • Include provision for a prompt appeals procedure;
  • Are cost-effective in balance with public benefit;
  • Promote building code provisions that set performance rather than prescriptive criteria; and
  • Allow for rapid response to emergencies and the climate crisis, including advancing net zero energy, net zero carbon, sustainability, and resilience.

AIA Minnesota supports uniformity of the building code across the entire state to ensure equal protection of the health, safety, and welfare of all Minnesotans. AIA Minnesota also recognizes the need for flexible, adaptable code approaches that stretch beyond the uniform framework to address urgent issues like climate change. AIA Minnesota supports the nimble development, adoption, and enforcement of comprehensive and coordinated building code solutions that help address the climate crisis.

Code Enforcement: AIA Minnesota supports a robust and comprehensive system of training building code officials throughout Minnesota to ensure uniform and comprehensive enforcement of the building code, which protects the health, safety, and welfare of all Minnesotans. AIA Minnesota also supports a clear, swift, and uniform process for reviewing a decision made by a local code official by appropriate state officials to ensure efficient project advancement.

Education and Workforce Development: AIA Minnesota is actively working to build and mentor a diverse, inclusive, and equitable profession of architecture and the AEC industry. AIA Minnesota supports efforts to eliminate disparities in PreK-12 educational opportunities, resources, and graduation rates. AIA Minnesota also supports education and job creation for a climate-action-driven workforce at all education levels. A workforce trained and prepared to help create a more resilient and regenerative future can boost the economy and create jobs in developing fields accessible to all Minnesotans.

Rebuilding Communities: AIA Minnesota supports a comprehensive, long-range, inclusive approach to helping areas impacted by civil unrest. Policy and funding for recovery should include consideration of environmental justice impacts and community visions and desires, integrate local, state, and federal resources to create comprehensive solutions that address historical and current inequities, create opportunities to reshape communities to reflect the needs and desires of residents, and make space for new processes, policies, and priorities that allow our communities to adapt to changing conditions. Policy solutions should also create a strong vision for the future and follow through on funding for completing the projects to make that vision a reality.

Fees/Compensation for Public Projects: Good design fuels the success of building projects and is essential to long-lasting, high-quality results. AIA Minnesota supports policies and procedures within state agencies that balance the need for economy with public funds against the financial health of private sector design firms prepared to collaborate with the State. Design fees should fairly compensate architects without requiring complex funding mechanisms to complete projects, and prescriptions from state agencies should not make public work unprofitable for and exclusive of small and emerging firms.

Public Procurement:  AIA Minnesota supports public policies, requirements, and administrative procedures in procurement processes – including the work of the State Designer Selection Board and any publicly-funded agency or organization in Minnesota – that mandate the open selection of architects based on qualifications. AIA Minnesota opposes the hiring of architects based on fees. AIA Minnesota supports a periodic review of the operations of the State Designer Selection Board to ensure the goals of qualifications-based selection are well implemented by the Board. The review completed in 2018 brought forward recommendations for legislative and administrative changes, several of which were made temporarily in 2020 because of the need to work virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic. AIA Minnesota will continue to pursue additional permanent legislative and administrative changes based on the review recommendations.

School Safety: AIA Minnesota is committed to working with all concerned stakeholders to create healthy, safe learning environments that serve all students and families. AIA Minnesota architects offer strategies and engage policymakers on ways to avert and restrict violence while preserving open learning environments that can positively influence student behavior and create more connected and open school communities. AIA Minnesota also supports policies that make our schools safer in response to COVID-19 and future pandemics and improve student outcomes.

Supporting Licensure: AIA Minnesota believes that the health, safety, and welfare of the public depends on having licensed, continually educated and specifically trained architects. State licensing boards are crucial to maintaining professional accountability and guarding against unlicensed professionals taking on duties that impact public health, safety, and welfare.

Visit the AIA Advocacy website for more information about these and other initiatives currently in progress.