On the eve of the State of the Union address, almost two-thirds of Americans want President Obama and the 112th Congress to require banks and financial institutions to make it easier for businesses to get loans to finance expansion, invest in equipment and create jobs, according to the recently-released American Institute of Architects annual survey of voter attitudes.
The survey’s key findings include:
- Americans have a continuing misconception about the top causes of greenhouse gas emissions. According to the AIA voter survey, more than a third of voters – 36 percent – identify cars and trucks as being primarily responsible for warming the planet. Only four percent think buildings are the primary cause. In reality, the Department of Energy estimates that commercial buildings account for roughly 40 percent of total energy use and almost 70 percent of all electricity consumed in the United States.
- Despite the pressures on incomes from a weak economy, Americans still support “green” building and design – even if it costs more. For example, three-quarters of Americans surveyed by the AIA say they would pay an additional five to 10 percent more to build, buy or renovate a house that would use less energy and protect the environment through “green” building methods. Almost two thirds – 64 percent – say they would pay as much as $10,000 more for such a dwelling.
- While government spending continues to be a major concern of voters, an overwhelming percentage – 80 percent – support government spending on public construction projects that incorporate good design – even if they cost more money and take more time to complete.
- More Americans than two years ago now see architects playing a major role in making communities safe, healthy, energy efficient and friendly to the environment. According to the AIA survey, 51 percent of Americans see architects as a major force in sustainable community design, up from 47 percent in January 2009.
“Voter attitudes on environmental issues have clearly shifted in the last few years as a result of the economic downturn,” said Ron Faucheux, president of the nonpartisan Clarus Research Group of Washington, D.C., which conducted the survey for the AIA. “But voters continue to express substantial support for green buildings, especially if they can see how sustainable design can save energy and money.”
Clarus Research conducted the survey December 5-9, 2010, of 1,000 registered voters, with a sampling error of 3.1 percent. Interviewing was conducted by live telephone interviewers.
A full copy of the survey can be found on the AIA website.