AIA and mindful MATERIALS Partner to Advance Holistic Product Specification

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and mindful MATERIALS have entered a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to advance holistic product specification.

The goal for this partnership is to deepen collaboration and provide resources, education and support to continue to grow AIA’s Architecture & Design Materials Pledge, a significant member engagement program within AIA’s climate action initiatives, in-step with similar industry initiatives.

With over 162 firms signing the pledge to date, this collaboration will also bring critical clarity to firms seeking to take action to achieve their pledge commitments, by recognizing a common framework for defining product sustainability as established by the mindful MATERIALS Common Materials Framework (CMF).

The A&D Materials Pledge established an industry vision for the ‘north star’ of building product sustainability, allowing architects and designers to publicly commit over time to demanding and specifying products that disclose and reduce their impacts across five categories of sustainability: Climate Health, Human Health, Ecosystem Health, Social Health & Equity within a Circular Economy. Other stakeholder materials pledges have since followed suit, pledging to support these same categories of health in producing and selecting building products.

The organizations shared that it is critical that these pledges recognize a consistent definition of what constitutes each one of these five categories of health and sustainability, to support industry alignment in reducing the embodied impacts of building materials. To support this need, mindful MATERIALS established a diverse, cross-stakeholder industry group of materials experts to build a Common Materials Framework. Participants reviewed existing sustainability certifications, labels and mapped and organized how factors within each contribute to meeting those ‘buckets’ of health defined in the pledge. This consistent foundation of knowledge will support the creation of meaningful and aligned metrics, tools and accountability.

As of June 2022, mindful MATERIALS has completed version 1 of the Common Materials Framework and will be digitizing that framework and integrating it into its cloud-based database by Greenbuild and working with other tech platforms to recognize the CMF, allowing for achievement of the materials pledge and more consistent decision-making regarding sustainability wherever architects and designers are working.

“This partnership is an important step for AIA’s members and our building product manufacturing partners as we rally around a consistent, holistic approach to sustainable product specification,” said AIA EVP/chief executive officer Lakisha Ann Woods, CAE. “Industry consensus around what constitutes a sustainable material will accelerate transformation within firms and create business development opportunities for manufacturers.”

New opportunities for AIAU CE courses for member education and knowledge in this area and BPMs/CE Providers to expand course offerings in this area developed by both mindful MATERIALs and AIA.

“We can no longer ignore the ‘why’ behind materials sustainability in the built environment. Science has proven the enormous and complex impacts of materials supply chains, and geographic and social inequities exacerbate those impacts unequally and unfairly,” says Annie Bevan, CEO of mindful MATERIALS. “But while the ‘why’ may be clear, the ‘how’ of drastically reducing the embodied impacts of our built environment has been our biggest challenge. This partnership by AIA and mindful MATERIALs and the Common Materials Framework is a critical step to changing this.”

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