03 April 2014

2014 Grassroots Report by Dan Chun

The following is a brief report on 2014 AIA Grassroots from Dan Chun:

AIA Hawaii delegation lobbies Congress at 2014 Grassroots Conference

The leadership of the AIA in Hawaii journeyed to still-wintry Washington DC for annual leadership conference and lobbying the Congress on issues important to architecture and architects. Following are the top three national priorities for AIA.

Re-enact Expired Energy Efficiency Tax Incentives – 179D tax deduction

Congress left town last December without extending several important tax incentives that expired on New Year’s Day 2014. Of most significance to the design and construction industry is the expiration of a tax break enacted in 2005 for energy efficient commercial buildings. The 179D deduction allowed building owners to claim a tax deduction of $1.80 per sq. ft. of building area to install systems that reduce the total energy and power costs by 50 percent or more when compared with a reference building. As Congress continues to debate long-term tax reform, it can boost the economy and create jobs today by reinstating this deduction.

If a building owner is not a taxable entity, tax law allowed the architect-engineer of the building to claim the tax deduction. Your AIA delegation found support for the 179D tax deduction, particularly from Senator Schatz staff where a future version was discussed related to a sliding scale of energy performance vs. amount of tax deduction.

Reform Federal Government Procurement – Limit Design-build short-list to 5 teams

In 2014, the AIA is aggressively pushing for passage of The Design-Build Efficiency and Jobs Act of 2013 (H.R. 2750), introduced by Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO) in July, which would reform the design-build contracting process so that more design and architectural firms can bid on federal contracts without fear of losing money in the process. Design-build offers are supposedly limited to 5 offers. However, federal agencies have used a “loophole” to short-list up to 15 design-build teams; dramatically reducing the odds of contract award and increasing business overhead costs in the design industry. AIA wants to close this “loophole.”

Hawaii has a large amount of federal design-build activity that impacts many local firms. Hawaii Procurement Code, governing state and county design-build procurement, limits the short-list to only 3 teams. This was passed several years ago at the request of AIA, American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC Hawaii) and the General Contractors’ Association.

National Design Services Act - Invest in the Next Generation of Design Leaders

Many young people aspire to help their communities build a better future – but a lack of opportunity and the crushing cost of education hold them back. As a result, the design and construction industry faces a severe shortage of talent, at exactly the moment we need to start rebuilding for the future. The AIA urges Congress to pass the proposed National Design Services Act (NDSA), which will give architecture students the relief from crushing student loan debt as that granted young lawyers, teachers, doctors and others – in return for pro bono community service. The details of this pro bono service are still being worked out, with the Department of Housing and Urban Development the likely manager.

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