2015 National AIA Conference in Atlanta

By Candice Moore Groves, R.A., LEED AP BD+C, LEED AP O+M
Sustainability Maven, Sustainable Investment Group (SIG)

The National American Institute of Architects (AIA) Conference was held in Atlanta from May 14-16, 2015. An estimated 18 – 20,000 were in attendance in some fashion. Architects attended educational sessions, toured the Expo Hall in hopes of finding the latest innovative products, and toured facilities across the city.

photo of Ashish Bagle and Tim Trefzer at AIA ConferencSustainable Investment Group (SIG) was there as well. SIG sustainability consultants – who typically serve as in-person trainers for Green Building Education Services (GBES) – were “guests” in the GBES Expo Hall booth to answer LEED v4 questions and to administer AIA Expo Chat with architects seeking Continuing Education.

You might know GBES as the go-to source for online LEED practice tests and study guides, however, the organization provides a wide variety of on-demand Continuing Education webinars that offer both AIA and LEED / GBCI Continuing Education Units (CEUs). Expo visitors were especially interested in the CEU package that would knock out both requirements in one shot, learn more about it, here.

SIG staff members also attended sessions featuring Keynote speakers and award-winners:

photo of Bill Clinton on a screen at the 2015 AIA Conference in Atlanta
  • President Bill Clinton spoke about the work done and the positive impact made by the Clinton Foundation in developing countries. Also, the work architects do today affects those greater, global issues over time. He noted that the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum – located in Little Rock, Arkansas – has achieved LEED for Existing Buildings Platinum Certification – a significant achievement for this federal building. He also mentioned that the nearby Heifer International headquarters also achieved LEED Platinum Certification when it was built in 2007.
  • AIA Kemper award winner went to Ed Mazria, founder of the Architecture 2030 Challenge. This challenge is aimed at building designers to strive for carbon neutrality in buildings by the year 2030.
  • Esteemed architect Moshe Safdie was presented the AIA Gold Medal for his body of work that spans almost 4 decades. Selected works were presented starting with his ground-breaking Habitat 67 project designed for the 1967 Exposition at the World’s Fair held in Montreal, Quebec and concluded with more recent projects including Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas.
  • An emotional speech was presented by Auburn University’s Rural Studio director, Andrew Freear, who received the Whitney M. Young Jr. Award for the University. The studio’s history covers projects built – often of reclaimed materials – to serve the needs of the South’s poorest and most underserved regions. Rural Studio was co-founded by the late Samuel Mockbee who received the AIA Gold Medal posthumously in 2004.

The conference was bookended by social events including one preceding the conference which was hosted by the US Green Building Council for green building enthusiasts. Those speaking at the event announced the GBCI’s name change to Green Business Certification Inc. as well as announced a partnership with the WELL Building Standard – a performance-based system used for measuring, certifying, and monitoring features of the built environment that impact human health and wellbeing.

photo of a wall of football helmets at GWCC | 2015 AIA Conference | Atlanta, GABy Friday night, the mood was much lighter, as conference attendees entered the casual environment of the College Football Hall of Fame – a 90,000 square foot iconic structure featuring a football-shaped rotunda, football memorabilia and a 52-foot touchscreen wall in which to find attendees favorite teams. The building was designed by local architect, TVSdesign, and opened in August 2014.

© 2015 Sustainable Investment Group (SIG). All rights reserved.