Guemes Island Planning Advisory Committee:

AIA Selects Guemes Island to Promote Sustainability

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Center for Communities by Design has selected Guemes Island to receive technical assistance under the Sustainable Design Assessment Team (SDAT) program in 2006. The collaborative SDAT will bring together scientists and other professionals from across the country to provide a roadmap for Guemes Island to improve sustainability practices. For the island, sustainability means protecting the groundwater supply, increasing energy independence, protecting wildlife habitat, and addressing ferry issues of today without reducing the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

Guemes Island Planning Advisory Committee (GIPAC) submitted an application to the 2006 SDAT Review Panel outlining challenges in these areas in anticipation of the future growth expected here. Other recipients of AIA SDAT assistance include New Orleans, Syracuse, N.Y., Longview, Wash., Lawrence, Kan., Northeast, Mich., Northern, Nev., and Hagerstown, Md.

“We’re thrilled that so much expertise in sustainable living will make recommendations on the sub-area plan for the island.” said Roz Glasser, member of the GIPAC.

A team of architects, planners, hydrologists, and other related professionals will be selected based on the specific needs of Guemes Island. The SDAT team will work with GIPAC, community groups, and other local stakeholders like Skagit County government and the City of Anacortes to help shape Guemes Island’s strategy for increasing sustainability. In order to provide the most objective assessment, all of the team members are from outside the particular communities. The second step in the process is the preliminary visit where SDAT members will meet with representatives of the various stakeholder groups in an effort to gauge the needs of the community and the priorities of the people who live and work there.

The AIA SDAT team will visit the island to gather information then report their recommendations to the community. GIPAC will consider these recommendations and the public response in drafting its sub-area plan.

The SDAT community assistance program provides the selected communities with six components:

Preliminary/scoping visit

Three-day visit from a multidisciplinary team

An assessment report highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of the community with regards to sustainability, along with the opportunities and obstacles to change

Consultations after a three-day visit (typically by phone or email)

A conference call six months after delivery of the assessment report to review progress

One-day follow-up evaluation visit a year after the SDAT report is delivered

“The feedback from planning officials and mayors of communities that have already participated in the SDAT program has been extremely positive, and more cities are placing a priority on environmental sustainability and community revitalization,” said David T. Downey, Assoc. AIA, managing director of the AIA Center for Communities by Design. “The forward-looking program is intended to help address challenges that communities face, such as transportation design strategies, air and water quality improvement possibilities, local economic development and how to manage growth associated with increasing and shifting populations.”

To learn more about this program, download the SDAT information packet.

About The American Institute of Architects

For almost 150 years, members of The American Institute of Architects have worked with each other and their communities to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings and cityscapes. AIA members have access to the right people, knowledge, and tools to create better design, and through such resources and access, they help clients and communities make their visions real.

For further information contact Roz Glasser at (360) 588-0160 or


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