Targeting California’s Carbon Footprint, IIDA’s California Chapters Stand Together

Image by Marcin Jozwiak

Published  May 27th, 2021

In a landmark move, IIDA’s Northern and Southern California boards both voted to publicly support California Senate Bills 31 and 32 at their April meetings. SB 31 and 32 target the decarbonization of buildings as a way of combating global warming; this is an area of clear importance to our industry, and where we can have a direct impact. Both the Northern and Southern California chapters of IIDA were eager to take this step and become public advocates for these new pieces of legislation.

The bills were introduced by State Senator Dave Cortese of District 15 (Santa Clara County). SB 31 would require the state’s Energy Commission to use some state and federal funds to implement regulatory programs promoting decarbonization for new and existing buildings, while SB32 addresses how cities and counties in California plan for energy efficiency, directing them to specifically target decarbonization as well. IIDA’s Northern and Southern California boards felt these sensible measures align with our mission for several reasons:

First, IIDA values sustainability and believes more radical action is needed to move the needle on slowing and ultimately reversing climate change. On the heels of the United States’ renewed commitment to the Paris Climate Accord, we believe that climate action implemented in California will set a sweeping example for the country and the world to follow. 

Echoing this first point, IIDA Northern California’s President-Elect, Verda Alexander, recently launched a joint-chapter initiative to increase commercial interior designer’s participation in climate action—citing the responsibility of designers to meet this challenge, considering that buildings are responsible for 40% of energy consumption in the United States. 

Second, IIDA members are experts in a wide-ranging field and can employ that perspective and expertise to create positive change, following a strong precedent set by other professional associations in our industry including the AIA (American Institute of Architects) and ASME (American Society for Mechanical Engineers), who have weighed in on similar legislation.

Finally, misconceptions about commercial interior designers are still common in our state and local governments, and joining this kind of discussion makes us more visible and gives us the chance to shine a light on what we do. “As IIDA engages with lawmakers regarding SB31 and SB32, we also have the opportunity to educate our representatives about our profession, our skills, and our impact on the health and safety of their constituents,” says Laura Taylor, VP of Advocacy for IIDA’s Northern California chapter. “This work not only elevates our image as a profession, but also builds relationships with policy makers who could one day introduce or vote on legislation that will impact our practice.”

SB31 and SB32 are set for hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee where arguments and amendments will be heard and the bills will be formally voted on. If the bills get out of their current Committee, they will head to the Senate Floor for a vote by the full body. Check back to IIDA’s newsroom for Part 2 including a detailed breakdown of SB31 and SB32 by IIDA’s California lobbyist.