Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Our Four Primary Resources

The following e-mail was written as a response to an architect who was upset that AIA|CC advocated NO to Prop 23.

Dear Mr. S., 

Thank you for your critical input and for cc'ing me on your e-mail to Brandon Keefe with the Clean Economy Network.

As you may know, AIA's position on key legislative issues is quite dynamic, comprised by the membership's point of view and expert analysis.

As an AIA member, I encourage you to get further involved with the various committees that help shape the Chapter's position.  Your voice does matter and it can indeed make a difference.

If your not by chance an AIA member, then this is your opportunity to join the AIA and to get more involved, and help represent the voice of the profession.

With regards to your passionate support for Prop 23, I have a few additional reflections to add:

The supporters of Prop 23 are not California-based businesses.  They are businesses located elsewhere.  California-based businesses favor AB 32.  It provides regulatory certainty and certainty is an asset.

I agree, attempting to discuss Green-House Gas emissions is a distraction.  Volcanoes emit GhG's, so why shouldn't we?

However, let's not distract ourselves from the primary importance of AB 32, which is to help make California more economically competitive by ensuring its environmental health (and our physical health) for future generations.

AB 32 is a strategic regulatory framework to reach certain environmental and economic thresholds that I feel you and your firm and your firm's clients highly value.

I'm sure we can all agree that the four primary resources that we all value (and want to fiercely protect!) are:

1. Time - life's most precious commodity.  Efficient systems help save time (and money) and if it helps save time, then we have more time to engage in prosperous activity - right?  That's why I ride the subway to work - to save time.  It's a more efficient system.
2. Land - we need more of it, right?  But that's not going to happen anytime soon - so the only alternative is to ensure the land that we do currently have access to is as healthy and as resourceful as possible.  Our economic longevity relies 100% on our ability to utilize land and mineral resources more efficiently.  We need to re-think our land-use regulations, and the way we utilize land in general.  SB375, a directive of AB 32 will help us re-prioritize municipal zoning codes to enhance our urban systems in effort to set more land aside for natural resources.
3. Air - the cleaner the air, the healthier we are.  Health is not a benefit, it's a necessity.  What price are you willing to put on it?  
4. Water - water is the essence of life.  It is probably our State's number one priority at present:  how do we take proactive measures to ensure the most cost-effective water delivery infrastructure to ensure access to clean, healthy water for all?

I'm confident that AB 32 will help California protect those four primary resources, and therefore Prop 23 hinders our efforts to make California more economically competitive; Prop 23 hinders our efforts to ensure California's environmental and physical health for future generations.

Sure, as you've outlined, it might cost billions $$ to implement AB 32.  But for every billion $$ spent, there is an economic gain of that exact same investiture recirculated into our economy (and ideally our local economy since substantial businesses in California have made strategic investments in innovative, energy-efficient technologies).

In short, if I spend ten dollars, then someone has just made ten dollars - right?  If I spent billions $$, then someone has just made billions $$, right.  That investment is not a job-killer.  If anything, it has created jobs!  

If anything is certain, it is that change is inevitable.  Systems adapt and efficiency is paramount to how those systems evolve.  Think of the Colorado River evolving, shaping the Grand Canyon - this is an excellent metaphor to reflect on how systems adapt to become as efficient as possible, i.e., when was the last time you saw a river run uphill?

Hopefully, my words have inspired you.

I look forward to continuing the dialogue and encourage you to become more involved with helping to shape the AIA's position on public policy initiatives.

Very truly yours,

Will Wright
Director, Government & Public Affairs
AIA Los Angeles

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