2020 AIA/ACSA Intersections Research Conference: CARBON

Fall Conference


April 22, 2020

Abstract Deadline

July 2020

Abstract Notification

Sept. 30 – Oct. 2, 2020

Virtual Conference


Host School

Pennsylvania State University
Institutes for Energy and the Environment


Corey T. Griffin, Pennsylvania State University
Erica Cochran Hameen, Carnegie Mellon University

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) are pleased to announce a partnership dedicated to the INTERSECTION of Education, Research and Practice. The conference is intended to strengthen the INTERSECTION between academia and design practice, especially when it comes to research and innovation, focused on climate action and carbon management strategies.

Attendees will gain an increased awareness of research happening in both academia and design practice. The conference will create opportunities for new partnerships, sources of funding and collaborations. It will be a chance for both established researchers as well as those looking to enhance their research capabilities, with sessions, breakouts, workshops and networking events.


“Being less bad is not being good; it’s being bad by definition, just less so.”  – William McDonough, FAIA

As we rapidly approach the 30th anniversary of the Hannover Principles, the call for buildings and the greater built environment to be good instead of less bad is more urgent than ever as weather-based natural disasters have doubled, arctic sea ice hits all-time lows, and the demand for urban buildings grows. As architects and educators, we should be continually asking ourselves if current architectural practices and tools are enough to radically reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere associated with buildings. If not, what research is needed to shift the practice of architecture to restore and regenerate the earth’s systems that we have so critically impacted. Simply put, what more could we be doing? What knowledge, skills and tools do we need to develop and what are the best ways to do so?

As the first in a dedicated series of AIA/ACSA Intersections Conferences, we will examine the role research plays in advancing architectural practice and education around the topic of carbon. In particular, this conference will examine how research – broadly defined – is currently driving architectural design and the built environment. Participants will share how research is generated in practice, at universities and in partnerships with business, industry and government. We will explore how to better align incentives and resources to generate practice-relevant and impactful research.

For this conference, there will be two main tracks focused on short-term and long-term strategies for managing carbon while acknowledging most if not all strategies will have consequences in the short and long-term:

Topics included under SHORT-TERM CARBON MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES include but are not limited to:

  • building materials and construction
  • adaptive reuse and deep energy retrofits
  • embodied carbon accounting and life cycle analysis
  • commissioning, post-occupancy evaluations and the role of building occupants

Topics included under LONG-TERM CARBON MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES include but are not limited to:

  • climate responsive design in a time of shifting and unreliable climates
  • transition to electricity-based systems, on-site renewables and preparing for a decarbonized electrical grid
  • how to best reduce fossil fuel-based energy use through design
  • reliability and utility of energy modeling, predicted Energy Use Intensity (pEUI), and energy benchmarking

Across both of the tracks, we invite all submissions to address one or more of the following measures from the AIA Framework for Design Excellence including: Design for Energy, Design for Economy and Design for Equitable Communities. View the online AIA Framework for Design Excellence.


Nissa Dahlin-Brown, EdD, Assoc. AIA
AIA, Director of Higher Education

Eric Wayne Ellis
ACSA, Senior Director of Operations and Programs