Committee on the Environment

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Who we are

The Committee on the Environment (COTE®) is an AIA Knowledge Community working for architects, allied professionals, and the public to achieve climate action and climate justice through design. We believe that design excellence is the foundation of a healthy, sustainable, and equitable future. Our work promotes design strategies that empower all AIA members to realize the best social and environmental outcomes with the clients and the communities they serve.

Expand your positive impact:
Engage in our advocacy efforts. Enjoy our latest on COTE news (and follow us on Twitter).

To learn about the Framework for Design Excellence (formerly the COTE Top Ten Measures), click here.

Did you miss the 2021 Top Ten Toast, download a recording here.

Check out COTE's history and timeline. 

Starting a local COTE or sustainability group and need some guidance? Check out the AIA COTE Network Guide here.

A big thank you to our partners: 
Founding partner: Building Green
Premier partners: Sherwin-Williams
Sustaining partners: GAF Roofing, Milliken, ROCKWOOL, Andersen Windows
Green partners: EPIC Metals
Allied partners: TLC Engineering, Sierra Pacific Windows

GAF x COTE: Looking at the Future

This 2019 video was compiled by GAF, a COTE sponsor. 

Letter from the Chair: May/June 2022

By Billie J. Faircloth FAIA posted 04-26-2022 03:07 PM


Dear COTE Members, 


Let’s celebrate the 2022 COTE Top Ten Awards and the COTE Top Ten for Students Competition winners! This year’s winning teams challenge holistic design discourse across all ten measures of the Framework for Design Excellence. The winners are:  


2022 COTE Top Ten Awards

663 South Cooper Street, archimania 

Edwin M. Lee Apartments, LEDDY MAYTUM STACY Architects, Saida+Sullivan Design Partners 

Iowa City Public Works, Neumann Monson Architects 

King Open/Cambridge Street Upper Schools & Community Complex, Arrowstreet Inc. and William Rawn Associates 

Knox College Whitcomb Art Center, Lake|Flato Architects 

Meyer Memorial Trust Headquarters, LEVER Architecture 

Roxbury Branch of the Boston Public Library Renovation, Utile, Inc. 

Tufts University Science and Engineering Complex, Payette 


2022 COTE Top Ten Plus designees for exceptional commitment to post-occupancy performance:  

Lick-Wilmerding High School Historic Renovation & Expansion, EHDD 

Louisiana Children's Museum, Mithun, with associate architect Waggonner & Ball 


2022 COTE Top Ten for Students Competition

Epimorphic, Claudette P. Bryan, Parsons School of Design 

Farmscape: A Modern Farm For The Anthropocene, Devin Costello & Marina Berenguer, Parsons School of Design 

Green Convergence – Resilient Corridor For Jaipur, Chaoming Li & Xuefei Yang, University of Virginia 

Reimagine Textile & Paper Industry, Xian Wu, University of Virginia 

Relook Overlook | Living Water Recycling Architecture, Ashley Beard, Washington State University 

The Connected Farm, Gauge Bethea & Jesse Blevins, Clemson University 

Transformation Of Waste, Curran Zhang, Carnegie Mellon University 

TUMI, Mia-Kim Bouchard, Alice Corrivault-Gascon, & Roxane Gagnon, Université Laval 

Under[Surface] Upcycle, Nithyashree Balachandar Iyer, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign 

Uqumuujuq – Arctic Greenhouse In Cambridge Bay, Florence Bouchard-Bédard, Daphné Garon-Rioux, & Coralee Tremblay, Université Laval 


Collectively, these projects prioritize outcomes for people and communities, implementing design strategies that uphold climate commitments. Moreover, they expand our conversation on design for equitable communities, documenting insight into our capacity to create architecture that offers value beyond a building and its site:  


Our COTE Top Ten-winning teams each explain whom their project serves, describing their client's commitment to deep engagement through surveys, workshops, and listening sessions—in some instances to shape a project's ambition and in others to inform its direction. Overall, these projects reveal our increasing dedication to learning from doing through programs of post-occupancy evaluation while they candidly wrestle with terms of success. Four Top Ten projects demonstrate the profound environmental and civic importance of building reuse and adaptation—AIA COTE must elevate even more stories like these. At the same time, many projects exemplify the extensive commitments that leaders of cities and non-profit organizations have and are making to projects that enact design strategies to build equity, decarbonize and increase resilience. Implied too are several other stories that need telling: The difficulties of making net zero energy and net zero carbon architecture; the value arguments that moved a project forward and those that did not; and the impact that collective crises-- justice, health, economic, and climate, are having on building owners and the communities they serve.   


Community and circularity are the underlying themes and motivations for the student and faculty winners of our COTE Top Ten for Students Competition. These projects amplify the interconnectedness of buildings, people, culture, ecology, economy, climate, and politics. Each one begins with people and envisions architecture, landscape architecture, and infrastructure as essential conveyors of programs and vital resources, asking: How can architecture meet the needs of communities adapting to climate change? How do we rethink systems of materials reuse, manufacturing, and distribution? What are the vital linkages between buildings, green infrastructure, and livelihood? Together, these projects challenge us to expand perceived modes of practice by designing forms of access, representation, ecological, and community resilience.  


Most importantly, the 2022 winners of the COTE Top Ten programs stake claim to practicing projectivity— in the near future and long-term future, framing time as an essential element of how we learn by doing. They motivate us to observe that the COTE Top Ten Awards program does not place an artificial time limit on projects competing for recognition; instead, it encourages "the more evidence of a project's contributions to real-world solutions, the better." What will inspire stories of design excellence that exemplify the notion of metrics in action? For instance, could projects completed in 1997 be reframed through an ever-evolving sustainability framework? Could one, two, or three decades of feedback and continuous care underpin the long arc of an exemplary project?  


Engage these questions and celebrate the accomplishments of the 2022 COTE Top Ten winners!  Join us in Chicago at A'22, the AIA Conference on Architecture, to toast their success and to hear from the people who shaped these accomplished projects.