7 Takeaways from AIA Sustainability Report

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Specifying sustainable products:  a summary of attitudes, enablers and barriers


The American Institute of Architects recently published a 56-page report “Sustainability in the Architect’s Journey to Specification 2020” that explored attitudes, enablers and barriers that impact how initiatives relating to sustainabile building products are incorporated into projects.

Below, we summarize several of the findings that we believe have increased relevance to lighting specifications. The full report drills down on data and details including interesting perspectives on generational attitudes (Boomers vs. Gen X vs. Millennials) and how strongly Architects are driving decisions vs. the end user.

4 in 5 architects want to specify more sustainable products

The desire to specify more sustainably is there, but other factors may interfere with that desire. More on that later.  Underlying facts: 97% of Millennials support this initiative. 77% of Boomers. And who are the 2% of Architects that strongly oppose this notion?
See the AIA charts, graphs and commentary »

Manufacturers should consider a range of factors when exploring why sustainable products may not have seen an uptake in the market

Past experience and product performance is often more impactful than sustainability when it comes to selecting products. Price can also be an equally important factor.
See the AIA charts, graphs and commentary »

Lack of buy-in from contractors & prohibitive pricing are top barriers

Two major types of barriers limit specification of sustainable products: project barriers (cost, contractors) and information barriers (definition, lack of time). Manufacturers can alleviate information-barriers by providing accessible and clear information about sustainable products (i.e., certifications, disclosures).
See the AIA charts, graphs and commentary »

End users are not keen to match enthusiasm for sustainability with funding

58% expect sustainable solutions at no added cost.
Does that surprise anyone? How do we shift the paradigm to the point where more end users see value in sustainability?
See the AIA charts, graphs and commentary »

Architects are more apt to defer to clients on sustainability decisions

Just over half of architects proactively build sustainability into all projects or advise their clients to do so.

See the AIA charts, graphs and commentary »

Digital manufacturer sources, reps & continuing education engagements are key

Manufacturers can engage with the architects through websites, reps, SEO, and sponsored continuing education. These touchpoints are widely used and offer opportunities for manufacturers to communicate the advantages of sustainability.
See the AIA charts, graphs and commentary »

Lack of buy-in & value-engineering can hinder sustainable specifications

20% of architects believe contractors propose product substitutions with the client’s best interests in mind. Does that mean the other 80% are suspicious of contractor motives? Manufacturers that find ways to reduce the additional cost of sustainability without cheapening the product will increase their chances of specification.
See the AIA charts, graphs and commentary »




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November 19, 2020

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