According to the EPA, buildings account for 36 percent of total energy use and 65 percent of electricity consumption. Much of Texas is in drought conditions, with many portions of our state in severe distress. As our society, government, and culture wrestle with the economics, politics, and ethics of these challenges, it becomes increasingly imperative that our buildings be designed and constructed to use fewer resources.
As the responsible representative of architects in Texas, the Texas Society of Architects has long been a supporter of sustainable standards for buildings, including ongoing programs of advocacy and education for our own members, the public, and public officials. To date, those standards, such as LEED and Green Globes, have been primarily voluntary. While these standards have been instrumental in raising the performance of buildings and in developing an educated and capable construction industry, they have not seen wide use in many building types.
The International Green Construction Code (IgCC), developed with a wide range of input from professional, industry, and governmental organizations, promises to be a game-changer, establishing a code that applies to a much wider range of building types.
Over the past four years, Texas Architects has monitored and participated in the development of the IgCC and provided significant input into its refinement and development. As a result of this rigorous development process, we now believe that the IgCC has become an effective and enforceable standard that will — for communities that adopt it — lead to buildings that are healthier for their occupants, use less energy and water, and have lower impact on our increasingly overstressed infrastructure.
In particular, we admire the inherent opportunity the IgCC offers to municipalities to “dial their own shade of green,” fine-tuning the code to best address their specific needs and priorities.
The Texas Society of Architects has developed this Road Map to guide those officials contemplating or actually adopting the IgCC. We applaud such efforts and hope that all such leaders will consider Texas Architects as their trusted advisor in this process.
A Road Map for the Adoption of the 2012 International Green Construction Code
© 2013 Texas Society of Architects
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Texas Architects Senior Advocate David Lancaster, Hon. AIA, recaps the Society’s advocacy work during the 83rd Regular Legislative Session, which concluded on May 27.
After the tremendous success the Society achieved during the 2011 legislative session, its Government Affairs Steering Committee approved a lower-key approach for the 83rd Regular Session of the Texas Legislature, one focused on ‘Sunset and Sustainability.’
Texas Architects saw their Practice Act successfully extended for another 12 years with the passage of HB 1717 (Rep. “Four” Price / Sen. Robert Nichols), the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners (TBAE) sunset bill, and contributed significantly in shaping the final language of SB 211 (Sen. Nichols, Rep. Harold Dutton), the Texas Facilities Commission (TFC) sunset bill.
The primary difference affecting architects brought about by HB 1717 is that all licensees must go through a security clearance requiring that a (one-time) fingerprint record be submitted by architects as they either renew their license or become initially licensed. This is something now being required of all professions as they go through the sunset process; it is not a case of architects being singled out for additional scrutiny.
SB 211 gave the Society an opportunity to effect changes to the model Public Private Partnership (P3) law enacted in 2011, and to get into the TFC’s enabling legislation language, calling for more consideration of design standards for future Capitol Complex projects.
The primary sustainability bills impacting architects more directly were SB 198, (Sen. Kirk Watson / Rep. Dawna Dukes), to help ensure the rights of Home Owners Association (HOA) members to xeriscape or otherwise have a drought-resistant, water-conserving lawn without undue restraint, and SB 385 (Sen. John Carona / Rep. Jim Keffer), which has to do with cities and counties being able to help finance improvements for energy and natural resource conservation projects through the PACE (property assessed clean energy) program established in 2009. This session’s bill provides a constitutional mechanism for political subdivisions to authorize assessments funding such improvements.
One practice-related bill was considered a priority measure: HB 586 (Rep. Paul Workman / Sen. Robert Deuell), which relates to waiving the State’s right to claim sovereign immunity for architectural, engineering, or construction breach-of-contract suits. While the collaborative efforts of the design and construction industry didn’t yield parity with similar laws affecting all other political subdivisions, the bill does establish that no state entity can summarily claim immunity from suit simply on the basis of who they are.
There were a number of bills the Society worked on that didn’t pass; some we were mostly neutral on, like SB 617, and some, like HB 3202, we opposed. The former would have licensed Energy Evaluators (or “Auditors”); the latter would have changed the Construction Manager-at-Risk selection process. We added language exempting architects from SB 617 so that an additional license through TDLR wouldn’t be required. This eliminated our “regulatory confusion” concern, so we took the bill off our “Priority Watch” list.
Future advocacy updates will go into greater detail about these bills and others that TxA tracked this session. If you have specific questions you would like addressed in the meantime, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 512-478-7386.
Last weekend, the Texas Society of Architects Publications Committee gathered in Tyler for its annual “PubCom” Retreat. Past retreat destinations have revealed a unique architectural presence from earlier times, and Tyler, with its abundance of fine architecture and really talented architects, was no exception. Retreat tours have often focused on mid-century modern residential and commercial architecture, and there is plenty to be had in Tyler — so much in fact, that a group called The Mod Squad was recently created specifically to promote awareness of the wealth of the city’s modern architectural heritage.
The “star architect” of this retreat turned out to be E. Davis Wilcox, who practiced in Tyler from 1946 until his death at the age of 87. One of the finest houses we visited was his personal home, which had deteriorated substantially until rescued by its current owners. Fortunately, they had the resources to not only restore the house to its original glory, but also to furnish and appoint it appropriately. The open plan, organized around a glass atrium and featuring an abundance of windows, in the owners’ words, “brought the outside in” through the architect’s design genius. We visited a number of other houses (built primarily in the early 50s), as well as a school, several bank buildings, and the Tyler Museum of Art, all by Wilcox.
Other highlights included the very original Bruce Goff-designed house at Lake Palestine (most people do not realize that Goff spent his last years practicing in Tyler), the Shoenbrun House, designed by California ranch house originator Cliff May, and the traditional Fair House, which was designed by another prominent local architect, Shirley Simons, in 1938. The house featured a beautiful garden by landscape architect Maurice Shamburger, who also practiced in Tyler and introduced azaleas to the area in 1929.
A driving tour of the city’s historic districts, led by host Mike Butler, AIA, allowed the committee to survey many other buildings in the area as well. As the committee’s van zigzagged the streets, architectural historian Stephen Fox filled in pertinent historical information, making the whole experience all the more enjoyable and informative. Mike also suggested the idea of a “sketch crawl,” which revealed committee member Joe Self, AIA, as master of the quick field sketch, and the upcoming issue of Texas Architect will share some of his simple yet beautiful drawings from over the weekend.
The PubCom Retreat served as the inspiration for the Society’s Design Conference, the second of which was held in Dallas last month. Every one of the retreats has been a truly wonderful experience, highlighted by the building tours and comradery. Our thanks go to Mike and Ann Butler for an unforgettable weekend.