Continuing indoctrination

As a registered architect here in Maryland and member of the American Institute of Architects, one thing I have to accomplish on a yearly or bi-yearly basis is acquiring a certain number of continuing education credits. As an AIA member, I’m required to have 18 learning hours per year while as I recall the state requires 24 learning hours per registration term (mine is two years and I have until the end of April, 2009 to complete that number.) Either way, I’ve never been a fan of mandatory continuing education but unfortunately the AIA tends to push this in every state’s legislature because, quite frankly, it’s a pretty good cash cow for them. Ohio was one of the last holdouts who didn’t require this non-billable crap but the main reason I opted not to maintain my Ohio registration was their adoption of CEU requirements in 2005.

I can see the requirements for continuing education in certain professions like medicine, law, or education. Doctors and nurses need to keep up with the latest techniques and pharmaceuticals, attorneys have to be aware of changes in law and regulation, and teachers hopefully can learn the latest in educational techniques and dealing with more and more types of problem children, but with the exception of the latter case these folks pull in a lot more coin than architects do and their professions change at a much more rapid pace.

While I’m certainly not against architects keeping up with the latest in technology and (in particular) building codes, to me this is simply something a good architect does as part of his or her overall task and the important stuff can be covered in just a few hours of reading per year. They only put out an edition of the International Building Code every three years and yearly supplements are relatively brief. Meanwhile, brick, stone, concrete, steel studs, and 2×4’s don’t change a whole lot over time.

Unfortunately, the organization I belong to sees things differently and they sure didn’t ask my opinion on this recent directive I received:

During the March 2008 AIA National Board of Directors meeting, it was approved that beginning January 1, 2009 the AIA would require all members to complete four (4) hours of sustainable design. These 4 Sustainable Design (SD) hours would be included as part of the current 8 hour/HSW requirement. They are not additional hours to the 18/8 LU hours that the AIA already requires. This requirement would run until 2012, at which time it will be evaluated.

The AIA is currently finalizing the rules of Sustainable Design (SD) Learning Units. During the course of this summer the AIA/CES will be establishing the infrastructure for CES providers to determine, register, and report their future continuing education courses to qualify for Sustainable Design (SD) learning units. These rules will be based upon the following definition.

Sustainable Design (SD) Learning Units
Sustainable design is achieved through an integrated design and delivery process that enhances the natural and built environment by using energy sensibly with a goal toward carbon neutrality, improves air and water quality, protects and preserves water and other resources, and creates environments, communities and buildings that are livable, comfortable, productive, diverse, safe, and provide enduring value to our community and society as a whole.

To qualify as Sustainable Design learning units, the content must meet 4 thresholds:

  1. It must address the AIA definition of sustainability.
  2. It must be a structured (third-party) program (i.e. no self-study).
  3. At least 75% of program content must qualify as HSW.
  4. Its primary purpose must address at least one of the AIA Committee on the Environment (COTE) Top Measures of Sustainable Design and Performance Metrics:

Design & Innovation; Regional/Community Design; Land Use & Site Ecology; Bioclimatic Design; Light & Air; Water Cycle; Energy Flows & Energy Future; and Materials & Construction to reduce product-cycle environmental impacts and optimize occupant health and comfort.

The only thing this all seems to sustain is cash flow into the AIA coffers, particularly since there’s not the self-study option that’s available for other areas – including the eight required health/safety/welfare credits. Since the organization is also heavily into pushing requirements for so-called “green” construction at the federal and state levels (thus attempting to artificially create a market by fiat where one doesn’t exist) it’s certainly making its effort to have all of their membership drink heavily from the goblet of green Kool-Aid. While it may be time for me to leave the organization, I’m certainly going to get some parting shots in before I go.

To that end, I have their 2012 evaluation already written here in 2008. How about working to get the government off our backs instead of trying to get them further into areas they don’t belong, and while you’re at it laying off this forced manmade global climate change propaganda?

Crossposted on Red Maryland.

Author: Michael

It's me from my laptop computer.

3 thoughts on “Continuing indoctrination”

  1. I have read your ongoing tale of AIA indoctrination, and I have to admit that this time the phrase ‘whiny ass’ popped into my mind while I was reading your post. There is a long list of professions that require continuing education. You left out CPAs and real estate agents among others. Many professionals would keep up with current issues relevant to their careers, but many others would not without a continuing education requirement. I don’t think that it is out of line to ask professionals who are issued a license to maintain a level of proficiency in their chosen field. I would think that a few hours of annual study would be a piece of cake compared to the challenging curriculum of a School of Architecture.

  2. Point taken, and I have said to people before that a year’s worth of work in the field taught me more than four years in college. This is why one cannot take the architectural licensing exam and be registered straight out of college.

    There are things I learn practically every day that I don’t get credit for nor expect to; however, clients do not pay us to sit in a seminar nor do they likely think it’s terribly important we learn about sustainability – in my experience 9 out of 10 clients want things as quick and as cheap as possible. Maybe the clients should take these sustainability hours instead since I think my job is to do well by the client, not sell him something based on a political agenda – especially one I don’t agree with.

    This forum is where I do the selling of political wares.

  3. Amen my architectural brother. It doesn’t take much effort to see the intent of CEU’s is indoctrination. There is discussion of upping the CEU requirements for “sustainability training”. Why not just say it as it is… if you want to be an architect you must agree with the political positions of those in charge.

    Hardly! In my firm of over 50, we have a wide background of interests, design abilities, and political backgrounds. What we all share in common is our desire to give the best possible service to the client. Whether we are ‘born-again green’ or not has little bearing on that.

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