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, Kawneer, Milliken, ROCKWOOL
Green partners: AutodeskEPIC MetalsHKSThornton Tomasetti, Skanska
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: September/October 2022

By Billie J. Faircloth FAIA posted 09-01-2022 12:57 PM


Dear COTE Community, 

The COTE Leadership Group (LG) has much to share about staff transitions, the launch of the 2023 COTE Top Ten Awards, and opportunities for engagement: 

Saying Thank You and Welcome 

With deep gratitude, the AIA COTE LG recognizes the service of Melissa Wackerle and Melissa Morancy, AIA national staff members who are moving on to new assignments within the AIA. Both joined our Knowledge Community more than eight years ago and have worked to deliver COTE initiatives and programs on behalf of AIA members. Both will continue their work on climate action within the AIA: Melissa Wackerle is now the Senior Director of Resilience and Climate Adaptation; Melissa Morancy is focusing on AIA initiatives, including the AIA 2030 Commitment and the Framework for Design Excellence. Thank you for years of diligent and inspired work.  

We warmly welcome architect Lisa Ferretto to AIA COTE. As the newest addition to AIA staff, in the Senior Director of Sustainable Practice and Knowledge role, Lisa is working directly with the COTE LG and COTE Network, facilitating the work of COTE subcommittees and outreach. Formerly the Sustainability Director at Hord Coplan Macht, Lisa brings two decades of experience in this field. Lisa's coordination efforts have already begun as we plan continued outreach in the fall to the AIA Board Committees Equity and the Future of Architecture (EQFA) and Committee for Climate Action and Design Excellence (CCADE) and prepare for COTE’s annual year in review. 

Launching the 2023 Top Ten Awards Program and More 

The COTE LG is excited to open the 2023 AIA COTE Top Ten Awards on September 20. Now in its 26th year, this program provides an understanding of design excellence and climate action through project-based case studies, emphasizing the importance of learning through projects with one, thirty, or more years of data. The 2023 program still aligns with the AIA Framework for Design Excellence, emphasizing reporting on equitable communities, carbon, well-being, and water. For the first time in the program’s history, actual, measured energy consumption will be the only metric by which we evaluate Design for Energy. The program officially opens on September 20, when the Call for Submissions is available on the AIA website, and closes on December 8. We hope this new submission schedule will give firms more time to navigate detailed submission requirements and craft compelling design excellence stories. In addition to the forthcoming call, watch for an opportunity to meet with technical experts through COTE Open Office Hours, where you can learn to use the Super Spreadsheet and more. 

AIA COTE takes on building reuse at the upcoming 2022 Greenbuild Conference in San Francisco. Join us for Building Reuse is Climate Action: The Value and Complexities of Building Reuse for Community, Climate, and Culture on Thursday, November 3, 4pm. I will moderate a discussion with Presenters Lori Ferriss, AIA; Nakita Reed, AIA: and Sijing Sanchez, AIA, as together with the audience, we address the question: Should we develop any more new buildings at all? The COTE Network is also planning a COTE Gather at Greenbuild - details are forthcoming via our social media channels.   

We have begun planning for COTE’s 2023 workstreams and are looking ahead to the 2023 Call for applications to join the COTE Leadership Group. There will be three open positions for volunteers seeking service opportunities through COTE at the national level. In 2023 we will continue to elevate the discourse on community and stakeholder engagement, climate action with a focus on social and ecological impacts and carbon literacy, and climate justice with a focus on implementation and civic leadership. The AIA is finalizing the submission process for all Knowledge Community opportunities and will publish the application details shortly through its website. In the interim, if you are interested in the work of AIA COTE and would like to understand more about this opportunity, please reach out to Lisa Ferretto (use or a COTE Leadership Group member.