Architects Design Green To Meet Demand For Lower Building Operating Costs

Autodesk, Inc., and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) announced the results of the 2007 Autodesk/AIA Green Index, an annual survey that measures

Autodesk, Inc., and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) announced the results of the 2007 Autodesk/AIA Green Index, an annual survey that measures how AIA member architects in the U.S are practicing sustainable design, as well as their opinions about the green building movement. Indicating that green building has taken a firm hold on the industry and captured the attention of both architects and their clients, the 2007 Autodesk/AIA Green Index survey reports 70 percent of architects say client demand is the leading driver of green building; moreover, the primary reason (cited by 64 percent of respondents) owners and developers demand greener buildings is reduced operating costs. Accordingly, architects are responding by significantly increasing their use of sustainable elements, such as high-efficiency HVAC systems and recycled building materials, and using software to model energy usage. While less than half of architects were incorporating sustainable design practices five years ago, according to the Autodesk/AIA Green Index, this number is quickly rising with 90 percent of architects expecting to incorporate some sustainable elements by 2012.

Buildings are the leading provider of greenhouse gas emissions, and in 2005, AIA set a goal to reduce [such] emissions by 50 percent by 2010 and to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030, reports AIA CEO Christine McEntee. The results of the survey are encouraging, but there needs to be a greater sense of urgency to make sustainable design the norm in the profession. To that end, we will be releasing additional resources in 2008 to better educate both architects and clients on best practices and benefits of green buildings.

The survey also shows that architects are making significant strides to meet clients’ demand for green building. Working to develop their sustainable design skills, 88 percent of respondents have received training or continuing education focused on green building. Concomitantly, the new Green Index shows a significant increase in the practice of sustainable design since 2002, including a 25 percent increase in the number of architects utilizing high-efficiency HVAC systems in their projects over the past five years; the use of highly reflective roofing materials, which has jumped 18 percent since 2002; and, the adoption of energy modeling and baseline analysis, which has seen a 17 percent increase in that same period.

While almost 75 percent of Green Index respondents believe that the building industry is headed in the right direction regarding efforts to curtail sources with perceived climate change links, and 54 percent believe architects are responsible for developing and implementing solutions to this issue, the survey also shows that delivering on green building practices remains a significant challenge for architects. Fifty percent of architects reported having clients inquire about green building on the majority of their projects, yet only 30 percent of architects actually implemented related elements in their projects. In addition, only 10 percent of architects are currently measuring projects’ carbon footprint.

When asked what green building efforts they expect to adopt in the next five years, over half the respondents said they will be using tools to enable the prediction and evaluation of the environmental impact and lifecycle of building materials used in their projects, a 36 percent increase from current levels. Fifty-six percent of respondents also stated that they will be using design software to evaluate and explore alternative building materials to maximize energy performance and minimize their environmental footprint.

The Autodesk/AIA Green Index was conducted online by StrategyOne Research in October among 347 practicing U.S. architects, who were questioned on their use of 14 green design practices: five years ago, over the previous 12 months, and expected use five years from now. The design practices were based on the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards. Survey respondents span a mix of design practices: 44 percent are predominantly involved with commercial projects; 32 percent with institutional; 20 percent with single family homes; and, 4 percent with industrial projects. Sixty-two percent of the architects have 15 or more years of experience. The full report is available on the Autodesk web site at