Not Business As Usual

The economy has changed radically throughout the world in the last few months. The impact has been strongly felt in the New York City design community. Projects have been put on hold or altogether stopped, new commissions are not readily forthcoming. Firms have begun, in turn, to downsize. Many of our colleagues are losing their jobs. Many young professionals are not being hired. And our bills are not being paid.

AIA New York kicked off its Not Business as Usual lunchtime initiative on December 17, 2008, in an effort to unite the architecture and design community around these issues. As the location for these lunches, the Center for Architecture serves as a space for problem-solving, discussion, and action planning, as well as for coping with the realities of an economic downturn. The initiative continues in 2011 with Wednesday lunch sessions once every month.



New York City Greener, Greater Buildings Plan
Buildings dominate New York City's carbon footprint. Approximately 75 percent of New York City's carbon emissions stem from energy used in buildings, and today's existing buildings will make up 85 percent of all real estate in 2030. For this reason increasing energy efficiency of the city’s buildings continues to be a central focus of PlaNYC and a goal shared by the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

The New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects has been closely involved with PLANYC 2030 and the groundbreaking New York City Greener, Greater Buildings Plan signed into law by Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2009 to achieve a 30% reduction of global warming emissions by 2030. The City has enacted a set of efficiency requirements for existing private and public sector buildings. These laws together will ensure that the energy code applies to all construction projects, require annual energy efficiency benchmarking, and mandate a set of cost-effective energy efficiency upgrades and evaluations of the city's largest buildings, both public and private.

The Chapter provided input on the laws from planning to adoption and we are offering training for architects at the Center for Architecture. Our architects are ideally suited to provide services to owners who are required to benchmark their buildings by May 1, 2011. You can find details on all of the local laws by clicking here.


Benchmarking energy and water use allows owners, tenants and operators to better understand how their buildings are performing. By requiring annual benchmarking for certain city-owned and large privately-owned buildings, this law will give building owners and potential buyers a better understanding of a building’s energy and water consumption, eventually shifting the market towards increasingly efficient, high-performing buildings.

Commercial, mixed-use and residential buildings over 50,000 square feet must be benchmarked using the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Portfolio Manager tool by May 1, 2011, with annual benchmarking to be completed by May 1st of each subsequent year.

The Chapter has offered and will continue to engage architects, building owners and property managers on on benchmarking and energy usage issues.  

Other useful Benchmarking links:
An "effective extension" to August 1 for compliance has been put into effect: 
"Benchmarking Due Date: The Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability has every expectation that, for at least three months after May 1, 2011, no penalty will be assessed due to failure to comply with the benchmarking requirements of Local Law 84. "  Source: PlaNYC, GGBP website

Urban Green Council has developed a Benchmarking Compliance Checklist & User's Guide.

Live training on Portfolio manager is available at under "Events & Calendar".

Print the Portfolio Manager Quick Reference Guide  (1.3MB) from the EPA for a handy, at-a-glance guide to the basic steps of using Portfolio Manager.

Online live and self-guided Training is also available through the EPA, schedule is here.

Those collecting energy use data may need to contact Con Edison and pay a fee for aggregate electric data and/or steam use data. You will need the common area account information for the building (and, if you are not the customer, authorization from the customer) for data to be released.

AIA NY is contributing a voice to national, state, and local policymakers working to alleviate the economic crisis. We’re lobbying for stimulus legislation to fund projects that create jobs and income for architects, as well as policies that help small businesses stay afloat, such as affordable health care and the elimination of federal fee retainage. To learn about the AIA's lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill, please visit

New information released regarding the Economic Stimulus Package:
The Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Cabinet recently posted a copy of the New York American Recovery and Reinvestment Handbook on their website. The Handbook provides information on funding programs applicable to New York State under ARRA. The handbook lists funding amounts, federal and state agency contacts, and application deadlines for each program when they are available. It is a work in a progress because some guidelines have not yet been set by federal agencies, but it will be updated on a regular basis on the state's recovery website here. The federal government's website is also a great resource for additional information. (3/2009)

The 2/11 Not Business as Usual meeting focused on advocacy. For a review, visit the Architect Newspaper's blog for the post by Mariana Rodriguez Orte. 

Center for Architecture 2010 Exhibition Design and Graphic Design Shortlists

Last year, the Center for Architecture, as part of its "Not Business As Usual" (NBAU) initiative, created an Exhibition Design Shortlist in support of innovative AIANY-member firms with exhibition design experience. This year, a second Open Call for exhibition designers was held and, from dozens of firms, six were selected. Congratulations to the six firms which have been added to the list!

Harry Elson Architect -
KOKO Architecture + Design -
Pentagram -
Popular Architecture -
Poulin + Morris -
Urban A&O -

This year we also created our first-ever Graphic Design Shortlist. Congratulations to the eleven firms selected!
50 50 –
Object -
Omnivore -
PS New York -
Q Collective -
Jeff Ramsey -
Remake -
Rumors -
Thumb -
Topos Graphics -

Selected firms will be included in an upcoming library exhibition.

Training / Professional Development
Because skills upgrades are important activities to undertake in a slower economy, a new Training Lab has been set up at the  Center for Architecture with  donations by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill and software providers AutoDesk and Graphisoft.  The Center will hold training sessions on BIM software: ArchiCAD and REVIT; check our calendar for program dates.

AIA parnter, Autodesk has an Assistance Program for displaced workers.  Participants now have access to 17 products and enhanced eLearning; employers get discount for hiring program participants; new term license for AutoCAD software is also available.  Visit the portal at:

The Chapter is also developing resources for those who are seeking to become registered architects for the first time.  We host ARE preparation classes; have study materials available for members and provide guidance on the ARE and IDP processes through evening seminars. Check out our licensing page for more details.

The Presentation work group is focusing on initiatives to help individuals and firms show their skills and services to best advantage in a competitive environment. We are planning programs for job searches, resume building, interviewing skills and professional networking for individuals. For firms, we seek to support their presentations skills as well as assessments of appropriate areas of practice and strategic planning for their future business.

Please check the following links for further information and support:
AIA National Career Center
AIA National Navigating the Economy

Check out this great Job Hunting Boot Camp information from IIDA (International Interior Design Association) based on a program they delivered at NeoCon World's Trade Fair in Chicago.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the launch of "Jobs Express," a new website designed to help New Yorkers who are seeking employment. The Jobs Express website makes it easier to learn about what jobs are available in the state and to know where to find them. Click here to visit the Jobs Express website.


Not Business as Usual on the Web

Event report on "Not Business Planning as Usual"

Follow up "Where are They Now", this March 2010 Architectural Record web story follows up on individuals the author met at the NBAU lunches in 2009. (posted 3/6/2010)

At a recent Alternative Careers Panel, one speaker provided a list of online resources for keeping up to date with the design profession.  See her suggestions here. (7/8/2009)

Stories recently posted on the Architectural Record web site in the Recession & Recovery section include: Recession Stories (Profiles); Strategies for Unemployed Architects; Volunteer Opportunities; Top 10 Resume Tips (3/4/2009)

MetropolisMag.Com POV post "Feeding off Engineers’ Energy," by Daniela Morell, 03.23.09, covering the last Not Business as Usual meeting on Energy Audits.

Architect Newspaper's blog post by Mariana Rodriguez Orte, 02.16.09

The Center's 100% BIM program on Green Buildings NYC dot Com

MetropolisMag.Com blog post by Daniela Morell, 01.08.09

"AIANY, Center for Architecture Foundation Address Economic Woes," by Jessica Sheridan, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP. e-Oculus, 01.13.09.

Many thanks to our Not Business as Usual series sponsor:

Lutron Electronics

Upcoming Meetings
(2011 events will be held monthly)




Suzanne Mecs manages this event series, if you have a program idea or would like to be added to the email list for updates please send her a message.


Previous Events

December 14 - Identifying Cash Savings for Architecture Firms (click here to see the presentation PDF).

November 16 - NYC New Business Acceleration Team Information Session

October 19, 2011 - Personal Professional Brand

July 20, 2011 - Controlling LED's to Meet Customer Expectations

June 15, 2011 - Understanding Real Estate Data

May 25, 2011 - Skills Development for a New Market

April 20, 2011 - Business Development Strategies

March 16, 2011: Benchmarking: How to Use EPA's Portfolio Manager

February 16, 2011: Resume and Portfolio Review.

January 26, 2011: 2011 Employment Outlook for Architects.

December 15, 2010: Energy Design Targets and Benchmarking Performance: How to Use EPS's Portfolio Manager and Target Finder

November 30, 2010: The New Era of Health Insurance -- Creative Solutions for All Size Firms

November 10, 2010: New from the NYSERD New Construction Program

October 27, 2010: Surviving and Thriving and Lessons Learned

September 22, 2010: Light Control and LEED

August 18, 2010: Advocacy through Community Board Service

July 21, 2010: Understanding and Applying Real Estate Data

June 30, 2010: Starting and Running a Business with an Emphasis on Sustainability

June 16, 2010: Going it Alone: Practice as a Solo-Practitioners related resources: Article: How Small Firms Survive an Economic Slowdown

June 2, 2010: Going Paperless and the Environmental Impact of Architectural Practices

May 19, 2010: Understanding the Public Design Review Process

May 5, 2010:Advocacy for Architects and Architecture

April 21, 2010: Architects' Toolbox Series: Hone your Presentation Skills

April 7, 2010: New Architecture in New York Project

March 24, 2010: Architect's Toolbox Series: Project Cost Estimating for Commercial Interiors

March 10, 2010: Mounting Solutions for Flat Screens and AV Equipment - Improving the User Experience in Various Settings

February 24, 2010: "Not Business Planning as Usual"; read the related article.

January 13, 2010: Professional Liability and Management Issues for New Consultants





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