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. 

A big thank you to our partners: 
Founding partner: Building Green
Premier partners: Kingspan, Sherwin-Williams
Sustaining partners: GAF Roofing, KawneerLucifer Lighting Company, ROCKWOOL
Green partners: AutodeskEPIC MetalsHKSThornton Tomasetti, Skanska
Allied partners: TLC Engineering

GAF x COTE: Looking at the Future

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

2022 COTE Top Ten Students Competition Launching in August

By Elaine Gallagher Adams AIA posted 06-22-2021 10:47 AM


The AIA Committee on the Environment (COTE) once again sets the bar for design excellence for architecture students with the August launch of the 2022 COTE Top Ten Students Competition. Entering its seventh year, the competition attracts hundreds of participants every year and only ten winners, this is widely regarded as the most prestigious student design award in architecture. Based on the AIA Framework for Design Excellence (born of the COTE Top Ten measures), the competition introduces college students to a breadth of sustainability issues, from climate to community, and to critical metrics used in the design process.

The 2021 competition attracted over eight hundred students, representing 66 schools and months and months of work. COTE is grateful to the hundreds of faculty sponsors for encouraging and facilitating these students’ achievements. COTE plans outreach this year to under-represented architecture programs to reach an even more diverse range of students. If any COTE members would like to serve as a COTE Top Ten Students Competition advocate to a collegiate architecture program nearby, please contact the COTE Advisory Group. We appreciate our COTE community and encourage all to become involved in mentoring and inspiring our young designers.

The 10 principles and required metrics in the competition brief provide a challenging program for any architect, and more so for a student. This year’s brief will identify required base measures for students to meet and reward submittals that achieve more aspirational aspects of the Framework for Design Excellence, pushing for deeper understanding and execution of targeted project-specific goals. As in past years, we invite studio projects that include new or existing buildings, urban design, and landscape elements designed integratively using social, natural, economical, and technological strategies.

The jury will represent both practice leadership and academic brilliance, providing thoughtful assessments of each submittal. The competition is a joint effort with the Association for Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA), designing and hosting the competition site where information will be posted in August. Stay tuned for updates and we look forward to 2022!