We’re excited that the incoming administration has come out with strong, detailed plans around building and sustainability. So far, they’ve been thoughtful and coordinated, designed to have positive outcomes for climate as well as for equity. We see experts from all different sectors, requests for ideas. This kind of open sourcing of good, smart ideas is really exciting.

More specifically, I think what we expect to see with a fairly high level of certainty would be the administration coming out with programs to decrease the emissions associated with buildings. That means advancing climate goals and promoting renewable energy, but also ensuring efficiency from all types of buildings: commercial, industrial, schools, housing.

Incentives can get things started, but it’s also about highlighting the benefits of green building. Talking openly about climate and the impact it’s having on all of us. Just that attention and awareness alone is very valuable—helping businesses and individuals open their eyes and helping them do things better. I feel like this is a turning point.

Peggy Deamer

Principal, Deamer, Architects; assistant dean, Yale University School of Architecture; cofounder, the Architecture Lobby

First, one could think about the jobs that are going to come architects’ way. Certainly in the public sector: jobs related to affordable housing and public housing, jobs in transportation and infrastructure. I also think there will be a different attitude toward projects like the border wall, jails, and refugee detention camps. Maybe that’s the kind of work [architects will agree not to] do. There’s been a real politicization among architects about our work.

Environmentally, I think there is going to be a huge emphasis on retrofits, which will give us a different kind of work and expertise. And an emphasis on renewable energy, which is about so much more than solar panels and green roofs—it’s an entire new infrastructure.

There’s a growing consciousness of how badly we build—environmentally, economically, et cetera. I don’t think Biden will be responsible for making us do that better. But I do think that the antagonism that Trump has shown toward the environment, toward labor, has made us more aware of how we do things, and prompted us to think differently. There is a certain consciousness that’s been raised [in reaction to Trump] which will hopefully benefit the kind of projects we get, and the kinds of products we put out in the world. 

I think that post-Trump we will have more labor consciousness, and unions will no longer be a dirty word. Likewise, we have more consciousness about the failings of Neoliberalism, of the gig economy. This sense of every person for themselves has created a desire among architects to share knowledge and think about how we can work together.

Emily Feenstra

Managing director of government relations and infrastructure initiatives, American Society of Civil Engineers

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