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AIA MA Latest News

 

01.31.23 - Use of Titles “Architect” and “Architectural Designer” and Similar Terms and Signing Contracts for Architectural Services

At the October 11, 2022, Commonwealth's Board of Registration of Architects (CBRA) meeting, a draft advisory document addressing the issue of proper titling and use of the term "architect" was reviewed and approved.


On November 22, 2022, the advisory was made public.

On January 30, 2023, a memorandum providing additional clarity for members was approved by the President of the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA MA).

On March 8, 2023, the AIA MA Government Affairs Committee will meet to discuss the CBRA advisory and the AIA MA memorandum. This will be a virtual meeting, and all interested AIA members are encouraged to attend.

To view the CRBA advisory, please click here

To view the memorandum, please click here

To register for the March AIA MA GAC meeting, please click here

 

01.25.23 - AIA Massachusetts Seeks Representative to AIA National Associates Committee 

The National Associates Committee (NAC – also now referred to as State/Territory Associate Representative or STAR) is a member group of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) national organization. The category of Associate AIA membership is open to those who have a professional degree in architecture, work under the supervision of an architect, are enrolled in AXP, or are faculty member in a university architecture program. All Associate AIA members are automatically represented by NAC and included in communications.
 
NAC’s mission is to inspire the profession by promoting innovation, inclusiveness, and professional development while amplifying the voice of the Associate community within the Institute. The purpose of the NAC is to serve as a source of communication and representation on issues pertaining to Associate Members through the lens of Career Advancement.
 
NAC serves, supports, and advances the interests of all Associate members of AIA, both traditional and non-traditional.  The NAC aspires to be a catalyst for progress within the Institute and the profession. 
 
To learn more about the role of the NAC state representative, it’s activities, makeup, leadership, qualifications, terms, timelines, and how to apply, click 
here

01.23.23 - AIA Small Firm Exchange Looking for Board Member to Represent Massachusetts

The mission of the AIA Small Firm Exchange (SFx) is to advance the mutual interests of architects practicing in small firms by:

  • Advocating the value of small firms, the national SFx, and local SFx groups, both within the AIA and to the public.

  • Curating and disseminating the most pertinent resources and information from the AIA & elsewhere that benefit small firms.

  • Informing the AIA of current issues facing small firms and areas lacking existing resources or information.

To learn more about the role of SFx state representative, it’s activities, makeup, leadership, qualifications, terms, timelines, and how to apply, click here

01.12.23 - REMINDER - New State Fire Code is in Effect 

On December 9, 2022, the Massachusetts Secretary of State officially promulgated the Department of Fire Services (DFS) updated Massachusetts Comprehensive Fire Safety Code (527 CMR 1.00).


The purpose and intent of 527 CMR 1.00, the Massachusetts Comprehensive Fire Safety Code, is to prescribe minimum requirements and controls to safeguard life, property, and public welfare from the hazards of fire and explosion created by the storage, handling or use of substances, materials or devices or from conditions, or materials hazardous to life, property and the public welfare as prescribed in M.G.L. Chapter 22D and M.G.L. Chapter 148.
 

The new 527 CMR 1.00 Massachusetts Comprehensive Fire Safety Code can be found here
 
A brief summary of the proposed new 527 CMR 1.00 Massachusetts Comprehensive Fire Safety Code can be found here.
 
Officially published copies of this language must be purchased from the Secretary of State bookstore.
 

Please contact the Division of Fire Safety at 978-567-3375 or email Paul Vigneau for more information.

01.05.23 - Draft Stretch Code Technical Guidance Released for Public Commen

Today, the Department of Energy Resources released a draft of their 2023 Technical Guidance for the Massachusetts Stretch Code and Specialized Opt-in Code, covering both commercial and residential sections. 

The draft guidance is designed to inform and assist users in implementing the updated Stretch Energy Code and new Specialized Opt-in Code.
 
The draft Technical Guidance includes three documents:

 
DOER is seeking public comment on these documents. 

Written comments will be accepted until 5 PM EST on February 2, 2023.

Please submit written comments on the Technical Guidance document electronically to stretchcode@mass.gov with the words TECHNICAL GUIDANCE in the subject line.

Alternatively, comments can be submitted via mail to Ian Finlayson, Department of Energy Resources, 100 Cambridge Street, 9th floor, Boston, MA 02114.

01.04.23 - Updated Stretch Code and New Specialized Opt-In Code Officially Promulgated

 

On December 23, 2022, the Massachusetts Secretary of State officially promulgated the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) updated Stretch Code and new Specialized Opt-in Code (collectively, 225 CMR 22 and 23).  
 

The new 225 CMR 22.00 – Massachusetts Stretch Code and Specialized Code for Low-Rise Residential can be found here
 
The new 225 CMR 23.00 Massachusetts Front-End Amendments to the International Energy Conservation Code 2021 Massachusetts Stretch Energy Code – 2023 Commercial Amendments to IECC 2021 can be found here
 
A summary of the proposed new 225 CMR 22.00 and 23.00 can be found here.
 
Officially published copies of this language must be purchased from the Secretary of State bookstore.
 
Please note that while the new 225 CMR 22.00 residential stretch code requirements took effect on December 23, the new 225 CMR 23.00 commercial code requirements will not take effect until July 1, 2023. 
 
For more detail on these codes' requirements and effective dates, please review DOER's November 2nd informational webinar slides and recording.
 
For any questions, please get in touch with the DOER at stretchcode@mass.gov

AIA MA 2022 News

10.19.22 - AIA Massachusetts Seeking Member to Serve on AIA National Strategic Council

 

Strategic Council (SC)

Formed in 2015, the SC advances the architecture profession by informing the Board of AIA National and other Institute bodies about important professional issues, opportunities, and threats. Although it is not an AIA governing body, the SC’s work is vital to AIA’s ability to serve the profession.

The SC approaches its tasks with an emphasis on an outward and forward-focused vision. In this spirit, the SC focuses on the long-term goals and outcomes of AIA’s work rather than the administrative or programmatic efforts that achieve those goals.

 

Requirements of SC Members:

  • Duration of Appointment: This position is a three-year commitment

  • Frequency of meetings: The SC meets in person during the AIA Conference in Architecture and Governance Week (typically in DC in December). Additional virtual meetings are expected quarterly but are TBD

  • Average duration of meetings: Meetings typically last 90 minutes

  • Actions typically undertaken at meetings: The SC is not a Board. It is more of a generative body whereby it's gathering traditionally focus on learning, informing, and discussing

  • Average preparation time needed above and beyond meeting time: Approximately one hour for each meeting

  • Does National reimburse for travel expenses, and if so, to what extent: AIA National covers expenses (travel, lodging, and meals) for face-to-face meetings

  • Any constraints imposed on the appointee’s professional practice: All SC members must sign a conflict of interest policy each year so that if there are any potential conflicts, the Board of AIA National can review and make a determination

 

Additional Information

 

Schedule:

  • The application deadline is Wednesday, November 16th at 5:00 p.m.

  • The Board of AIA MA will review applicants and make a selection in late Nov./early Dec. ‘22.

  • AIA MA will inform AIA National of their selection in late Nov./early Dec. ‘22

  • New SC member's term to begin Dec. 22/Jan. ‘23

 

To apply:

  • A cover letter expressing your interest along with a current version of your resume should be emailed to jnunnari@architects.org

  • The Board will consider the following when evaluating responses:

    • The applicant’s complete body of professional and lived experiences, including that which has occurred outside of “traditional” professional roles. Community involvement and the ability to represent historically underrepresented members of state and local communities is highly desirable.

    • The applicant’s ability to communicate AIA’s important initiatives on sustainability; resiliency; and equity, diversity, and inclusion priorities to state and local component membership.

    • How the applicant can broaden the participation of those historically excluded from participation in AIA.

    • How the applicant will contribute to expanding the pathway of “architects of the future.”

    • How the applicant can/will contribute to the council by bringing unique or relevant expertise and knowledge.

08.11.22 – A Great Week for the Climate

Today, Gov. Charlie Baker signed the compromise offshore wind and climate bill that lawmakers sent back to him on July 31st after addressing some of his initial concerns. The new law seeks to reshape the way the state connects to offshore wind power, accelerate a transition to renewable energy sources and help Massachusetts achieve its target of net-zero emissions by 2050.

 

To learn more about AIA MA’s advocacy efforts related to this bill, click here

 

In addition, the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote tomorrow, Friday, August 12th, on the U.S. Senate-passed Inflation Reduction Act. The Inflation Reduction Act includes about $370 billion in energy and climate-related spending, making it the largest federal investment to combat climate change in history.

 

To learn more about AIA Nationals' advocacy efforts related to this bill, click here

 

08.05.22 - Second Far-Reaching Climate Bill in Two Years Reaches Governor Bakers' Desk

 

On July 31st, the Legislature delivered the second significant piece of climate legislation to Governor Baker in less than two years. The Governor has till August 10th to either sign or veto the bill.

 

While the bill proposes many positive advances in greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions, three of AIA MA’s advocacy initiatives are now provisions within the bill:

  • An energy disclosure requirements for buildings over 20,000 square feet;

  • An MSBA/DOER/DPH assessment study of how existing K-12 buildings that rely on on-site combustion of fossil fuels are meeting our climate goals relative to energy efficiency, building conditions, safety, and public health; and

  • A demonstration project that allows up to ten municipalities to limit the use of fossil fuels in new construction and major renovation projects via changes to their zoning ordinances.

 

To learn more about AIA MA’s advocacy efforts related to these three items, click here

 

03.17.22 - AIA MA Submits Written Comments on DOER Straw Proposal for Stretch Code Update and New Specialized Stretch Code

 

On Thursday, March 17th, AIA MA submitted written comments to the DOER related to DOER's proposed new municipal opt-in specialized stretch energy code along with proposed updates to the current Appendix 115 AA stretch energy.

 

To view the letter, please click here

03.03.22 - AIA MA Hosts DOER Presentation of Straw Proposal for Stretch Code Update and New Specialized Stretch Code

 

On Wednesday, March 2nd, the AIA MA hosted DOER representatives Ian Finlayson, Dept. Director, Energy Efficiency Division, and Paul Ormond, Energy Engineer, Energy Efficiency Division, who presented an overview of DOER's proposed new, municipal opt-in specialized stretch energy code along with proposed updates to the current Appendix 115 AA stretch energy.

 

To watch a recording of the meeting, please click here

 

To view a copy of the slides, please click here

02.10.22 - AIA MA Government Affairs Committee Hosts Current State Representative and Candidate for Lt. Governor, Tami Gouveia

 

On Wednesday, February 9th, current state representative and candidate for Lt. Governor, Tami Gouveia, met with members of the AIA MA GAC to discuss her role as a state Representative; her thoughts on two bills she filed that would ban the use of new fossil fuel infrastructure in all construction projects, the recently enacted climate bill - Chapter 8 of the A/R of 2021, issues she plans to address if elected Lt. Governor, and finally, how our members can better become a resource to her and the Legislature.

 

To watch a recording of the meeting, please click here

 

01.12.22 - AIA MA Government Affairs Committee (GAC) Hosts DOER Commissioner Patrick Woodcock

 

On Wednesday, January 12th, Department of Energy Resources Commissioner, Patrick Woodcock, met with members of the AIA MA GAC to discuss DOER’s role in implementing the recently enacted climate roadmap bill (SB 9); his thoughts on the intersection between the requirements of SB 9 and the vertically built environment (both new and existing, residential and commercial); the status of the existing stretch energy code and new, municipal opt-in stretch energy code, and his thoughts as to how our members can better become a resource to both he and DOER.

 

To watch a recording of the meeting, please click here

 

To view a copy of the slides, please click here

AIA MA 2021 News

 

06.10.21  AIA MA Government Affairs Committee and BSA K-12 Educational Facilities Committee Host Assistant AG Deb Anderson to Discuss Workforce Participation Goal Requirements

 

On Tuesday, June 9th, Assistant Attorney General, Deb Anderson, the head of the AG’s Construction Bid Unit, discussed the Workforce Participation Goals statute. This law, which applies to any state-funded project, has been on the books for several years and requires participation goals for women and minorities. As opposed to the M/WBE goals related to the business entities' ownership structure, this law specifically relates to the designer’s and the contractor’s actual workforce. The law requires that the goals, as well as the awarding authority’s procedures for monitoring compliance with the goals, appear in the bid documents and the contract.

 

To watch a recording of the meeting, please click here

 

To view a copy of the slides, please click here

03.29.21  AIA MA’s Net Zero Building Code Language Signed into Law

 

On Friday, March 26th, Governor Baker signed into law the long-discussed climate bill designed to commit Massachusetts to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, establish interim emissions goals between now and the middle of the century, adopt energy efficiency standards for appliances, authorize another 2,400 megawatts of offshore wind power and address needs in environmental justice communities, and changes to the membership and operations of Board of Building Regulations and Standards (BBRS).

 

The bill also includes language developed by AIA MA authorizing the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) to develop and promulgate a municipal opt-in specialized stretch energy code that includes net-zero building performance standards and a definition of net-zero building.

 

For more information about the changes to the BBRS and the new DOER municipal opt-in specialized stretch energy code, click here

 

Some other highlights from the bill include:

  • Greenhouse gas emissions in 2030, 2040 and 2050, respectively, to be at least 50%, 75% and 85% lower than 1990 emissions.

  • By 2050, to net out at zero emissions, the state will have to make up the remainder, up to 15 percent, through strategies like carbon sequestration and carbon banking.

  • Five-year interim limits set for 2025, 2035 and 2045 with each limit to be accompanied by publication of a comprehensive, clear and specific roadmap plan.

  • Sublimits to be established for six sectors of the economy -- electric power; transportation; commercial and industrial heating and cooling; residential heating and cooling; industrial processes; and natural gas distribution and service -- every five years.

  • Department of Public Utilities to consider emissions reductions on an equal footing with reliability and affordability considerations.

  • MassSave to establish greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals as part of their home energy efficiency program, and

  • Department of Environmental Protection to conduct cumulative impact analysis as a condition of permitting certain projects to ensure that environmental justice communities no longer bear an undue burden of air pollution.

AIA MA 2020 News

06.26.20 State Designer Selection Board Electronic Submissions and New MBE/WBE Goals

 

On Thursday, June 25th, AIA MA hosted a virtual discussion with Designer Selection Board (DSB) Executive Director, Bill Perkins and DCAMM Deputy Commissioner for Planning, Liz Minnis AIA.

 

The main focus of the discussion centered on:

  • The DSB’s launch of their new online portal for applying for state projects, called Autocene

  • New affirmative marketing language in DCAMM/DSB applications pertaining to the latest participation goals for minority-owned businesses (MBEs) and women-owned businesses (WBEs) in the design and construction of public projects.

 

Both Autocene and the new MBE/WBE goals are effective July 1, 2020.

 

To view the June 25th virtual discussion, click here.

For an audio only version of the June 25th discussion, click here.

To view the Powerpoint presentation, click here.

 

Note: On both the audio and video files, the presentation starts at the 8:52 mark.

05.15.20 Contract Issues, Construction Administration and COVID-19

 

With the onset of COVID-19, architects are facing unforeseen issues arising from the resulting shutdown of most construction sites in Massachusetts. As such, AIA Massachusetts retained legal counsel to prepare a guidance document addressing contracts previously negotiated and signed prior to the pandemic. AIA Massachusetts has also prepared a guidance document for construction phase items to be considered in light of COVID-19. The documents below are intended to work in conjunction and are downloadable.

04.01.20   Governor Updates Essential Service List and Make Changes to Construction Site

 

On March 31, 2020 Governor Baker updated the provisions of the March 23, 2020 Order Assuring Continued Operation of Essential Services in the Commonwealth, Closing Certain Workplaces, and Prohibiting Gatherings of More than 10 People ("COVID-19 Order No. 13") and extended the Order until May 4, 2020.

 

The Administration also updated the “COVID-19 Essential Services” list which is based on updated federal guidance. The new list goes into effect on April 1 at noon and changes to Construction-Related Activities are as follows:

 

  • Workers such as plumbers, electricians, exterminators, builders, contractors, HVAC Technicians, landscapers, inspectors and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, businesses and buildings such as hospitals, health care facilities, senior living facilities, and any temporary construction required to support COVID-19 response.

  • Workers – including contracted vendors - who support the operation, inspection, maintenance and repair of essential public works facilities and operations, including roads and bridges, water and sewer, laboratories, fleet maintenance personnel, construction of critical or strategic infrastructure, traffic signal maintenance, emergency location services for buried utilities, and maintenance of digital systems infrastructure supporting public works operations. Critical or strategic infrastructure includes public works construction including construction of public schools, colleges and universities and construction of state facilities, including leased space, managed by the Division of Capital Asset Management; airport operations; water and sewer; gas, electrical, nuclear, oil refining and other critical energy services; roads and highways; public transportation; steam; solid waste and recycling collection and removal; and internet and telecommunications systems (including the provision of essential global, national, and local infrastructure for computing services).

  • Workers who support infrastructure, such as by road and line clearing and utility relocation, to ensure the availability of and access to needed facilities, transportation, energy and communications.

  • Workers performing housing construction related activities, including construction of mixed-use projects that include housing, to ensure additional units can be made available to combat the Commonwealth’s existing housing supply shortage.

  • Workers supporting the construction of housing, including those supporting government functions related to the building and development process, such as inspections, permitting and plan review services that can be modified to protect the public health, including allowing qualified private third-party inspections accountable to government agencies).

 

03.31.20   COVID-19 New Changes to State/Municipal Permitting Process

 

On March 30, 2020 the Legislature engrossed HB4598 - An Act to address challenges faced by municipalities and state authorities resulting from COVID-19.

 

The bill will now go to the Governor and is expected to be signed later this week.

 

While the bill mainly grants municipalities greater flexibility to conduct business during the ongoing public health emergency, it also establishes a framework for modifications to local permitting regulations.

 

Firms/individuals should review the list below to determine individual project applicability.

 

One the bill is signed, these modifications noted below will be retroactively applied as of March 10, 2020

 

Specifically, the bill does the following:

  • Defines applications for permits as duly filed and accepted as of the date of the filing if filed with and certified as received by the municipality;

  • Allows permit granting authorities to deny an applications completeness if otherwise denied or appealed on other grounds;

  • Allows submission of permit applications and sending of permit application receipts electronically;

  • Suspends any hearing deadlines otherwise required within a certain timeframe after receipt of an application as of March 10;

  • Provides for resumption of the deadlines 45 days after the termination of the COVID-19 state of emergency;

  • Prohibits expiration of any permits and/or tolls deadlines for performance until after the termination of the COVID-19 state of emergency;

  • Prohibits the constructive granting, denial or expiration of a permit due to a failure to act during the COVID-19 state of emergency;

  • Requires resumption of activity within 45 days of the termination of the COVID-19 state of emergency;

  • Extends requirements for recording of permits with the registries of deeds;

  • Tolls and continues hearings for opened permits to the first hearing date after expiration of the COVID-19 state of emergency.

  • Authorizes permit granting authorities to revoke or modify permits as otherwise allowed under existing laws or regulations for reasons other than lack of performance during the COVID-19 state of emergency when the work started before March 10, 2020 and stopped due to the state of emergency or other governmental actions;

  • Extends protection from permit revocation or modification for at least 60 days beyond the termination of the state of emergency;

  • Entitles a permit holder to further extensions for demonstrated good cause;

  • Allows the permit granting authority to issue an extension without the presence of a quorum.

  • Allows permit granting authorities to hold meetings and hearings remotely during the COVID-19 state of emergency;

  • Further allows permit granting authorities to issue decisions on permit applications submitted and heard;

  • Additionally allows building commissioners, inspectors of buildings, or other officials to issue permits;

  • Applies changes related to local permitting authority to all local boards and commissions’ conduct of public meetings, public hearings, or other actions taken in a quasi-judicial capacity.

03.26.20  AIA MA Request to the Governor

 

On March 26, 2020, AIA Massachusetts sent a letter to the Governor stating that our membership stands ready to assist the Commonwealth in this unprecedented health crisis by citing several specific ways in which architects can be of assistance:

 

  • Evaluate vacant or underutilized property for temporary hospitals and testing centers

  • Assist with documenting and retrofitting the buildings or other facilities identified as viable hospital facilities

  • Serve as a resource advisor

 

Further, the letter notes that across the country projects, including critical infrastructure projects, are being delayed, and entire offices are closed or requiring employees to work from home.

 

To ensure that essential projects continue to move forward during construction and to assure a pipeline of future development, AIA MA has requested that the Administration designate architecture as an essential business under certain limited circumstances. This will allow architects to continue protecting public health, safety, and welfare in the built environment.

 

A copy of the letter is available HERE.

 

Please feel free to pass this letter along to your state Representative and Senator with a request that they contact the Baker Administration with the same request.

 

To find your state Representative and Senator, please click HERE.

03.25.20  COVID-19 Guidelines and Procedures for All Construction Sites and Workers at All Public Work

To keep construction moving, on March 25, 2020, the Baker Administration issued the following guideline, "COVID-19 Guidelines and Procedures For All Construction Sites and Workers at All Public Work".

If you are a firm with an active construction project, please distribute this guidance to any firm member who intends to visit a job site anytime within the foreseeable future. Also, please distribute to any of the consultants you are working with who plan to make site visits. Lastly, please distribute to your Site Superintendent with a request that he/she distribute it to all their subcontractors. 

 

Eugene M. Novak, Jr., CBO, District State Building Inspector for the Department of Professional Licensure has asked that firms educate their employees about this guidance within the next week, and notes that the state will specifically require documentation of compliance with the "Safety Stand-Down Day" requirements.

 

Concerning these health and safety practices, Inspector Novak further noted that local building commissioners and inspectors would specifically be looking for compliance with these new policies and procedures when visiting your construction site in the days ahead.

 

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Inspector Novak.

 

Eugene M. Novak, Jr., CBO

District State Building Inspector

Department of Professional Licensure

Office of Public Safety & Inspections

617-590-3943

gene.novak@mass.gov

 

A copy of the guidance is available HERE.

02.07.2020  New 2018 IECC with MA Amendment Now in Effect and Available

 

On Tuesday, January 14, 2020, the Board of Building f Regulations and Standards (BBRS) held their monthly meeting. The agenda included an update regarding the implementation date for the 2018 IECC with MA amendments. BBRS staff reported that paperwork was submitted to the Secretary of State’s (SoS) office, and February 7, 2020 has been assigned as the effective date. In addition, the BBRS confirmed that August 7, 2020 will mark the end of the concurrency period.

 

Other changes to the 9th edition 780 CMR state building code pertaining to Chapter 12: Interior Environments (Micro Units); Chapter 26: Plastics; Adoption of the 2018 International Residential Code Appendix Q – Tiny Houses; Chapter 110: Special Regulations and Chapter 110 R.3: Approving Manufactured Buildings are still awaiting final approval from the Baker Administration to move to final promulgation.

 

A copy of the newly effective MA amendments is available HERE.

 

02.05.2020  White House Orders Return to Federal Architecture

 

The AIA is aware that there is a draft executive order circulating for consideration by White House officials that would officially designate “classical” architecture as the preferred style for the following building types: federal courthouses, all federal public buildings in the Capital region, and all other federal public buildings whose cost exceed $50 million dollars. AIA has been actively addressing this. The AIA strongly and unequivocally opposes this change in policy to promote any style of architecture over another for these types of federal buildings across the country. 

The draft executive order defines “classical architectural style” to mean architectural features derived from classical Greek and Roman architecture. There are some allowances for “traditional architectural style” which is defined to mean classical architecture along with Gothic, Romanesque, and Spanish colonial. The draft executive order specifically prohibits the use of Brutalist architecture, or its derivatives.

Except for Brutalism, there is some language in the draft executive order that would allow for other architectural styles to be used in cases where it could be conclusively proven that a different style is necessary. However, the high bar required to satisfy the process described within the executive order would all but restrict the ability to design the federal buildings under this order in anything but the preferred style. The process would include a personal written justification from the Administrator, which cannot be delegated to staff, and which is still subject to review by the White House.

The AIA strongly condemns the move to enforce a top-down directive on architectural style. All architectural styles have value and all communities have the right to weigh in on the government buildings meant to serve them.

The AIA has been communicating with White House staff on this issue. We urge you to add your voice to reiterate our fervent belief that design decisions should be left to the designer and the community, not bureaucrats in Washington, DC. Click here to email President Trump

02.01.2020  MA Supreme Judicial Court supports position taken by AIA MA

 

AIA MA is pleased to report that the Supreme Judicial Court has found in support of the position taken by AIA MA in Rawan v Continental Casualty Company, a recent professional liability case with important implications for professional architects and engineers. 

           

The case involved a structural engineer who was sued by its client over designs that resulted in additional costs to the client.  The errors & omissions insurer proposed a settlement with the client that the engineer opposed.  The engineer maintained that the settlement, although deemed fair by both the client and the insurance company, would negatively affect its reputation.  Both AIA MA and the ACEC (American Council of Engineering Companies) took the position that the insured engineer had a right to review and approve any settlement even though it was the insurance company which was making the financial offer.  On behalf of ACEC and AIA MA the legal firm Donovan Hatem prepare an amicus brief on the matter.

           

The SJC supported our position that the E&O policy explicitly stated that the insured professional had a right to “consent to settle” a claim.  The court found that consent to settle provisions “are both significant safeguards for insureds to defend their professional reputations and important incentives for the purchase of such insurance.”

           

This important outcome maintains our right to have a say in settlement decisions.  It’s important to note that this is not a right independent of the language of an insurance contract, however.  We encourage our members to ask about this important provision.  It may be the difference between an E&O policy that you want, and one that you want to pass on.

      

Attached is a more detailed summary prepared by Donovan Hatem attorney Jon Cowan, Esq., with links to the full amicus brief and SJC decision.

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