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: Kingspan, 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. 

Building Performance Standards: Empowering Existing Buildings Retrofits to Advance State and Local Climate and Equity Goals

By Kathleen L. Lane AIA posted 04-25-2022 04:00 PM

By Kathleen Lane & Michael Winn

At the Winter 2022 Meeting of the US Conference of Mayors, President Biden unveiled the State and Local Governments Building Performance Standards (BPS) Coalition.   
As defined by the Coalition, building performance standards are state and local laws that require existing buildings to achieve minimum levels of energy or climate performance. Retrofits to existing buildings are vital to climate action goals since (according to Architecture 2030) today’s existing buildings represent two thirds of the global building stock that will exist in 2040. Retrofit of existing buildings also represents a significant embodied carbon savings over new construction. 
Working in tandem with new construction energy codes, these policies empower state and local leaders to deliver on their energy and equity goals through accelerated retrofits. BPS offer an excellent policy tool for improving energy efficiency of existing buildings, and typically apply to existing commercial and multifamily buildings, requiring owners to meet targets that continually improve building performance with benchmarks to reduce carbon emissions over time. 
The Coalition, comprising a cohort of 29 cities, two counties, and two states, is receiving direct federal technical assistance to develop and implement building performance standards, with the ultimate goal of advancing legislation in each of the 33 jurisdictions by Earth Day 2024. See the full list of state and local partners here. The administration has also committed to developing the specific requirements of any building performance standards programs in close coordination with state and local leaders and in partnership with community members and key stakeholders. The adoption of BPS offers a powerful opportunity for climate action and to build a truly resilient, sustainable, and equitable future.  


Mike Davis, FAIA, chair of the AIA Government Advocacy Committee, notes, “The National PBS Coalition is an outstanding initiative with tremendous potential. A joint effort of the Biden Administration and the US Conference of Mayors, this nationwide coalition brings 33 mayors, governors, and county executives together to share best practices around building energy use benchmarking and transparency ordinances. It leverages the power of local government and the value of actual building energy use data to get ahead of building codes and – potentially – create public policy that could effectively manage on one of the nation’s largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions: our existing buildings.” 

AIA has been in touch with the Biden-Harris administration to express our support, to learn more about coalition members' needs, and to identify opportunities for AIA federal staff, state and local chapters, and members across the country to contribute their wealth of knowledge and professional experience to this effort.  


AIA will be offering a session on net-zero building codes and building performance standards at the upcoming US Conference of Mayors Annual Meeting in Reno, NV. The panel discussion, which will be moderated by Dan Hart, FAIA, will feature mayors who have recently launched a BPS program, or who are part of the coalition announced by President Biden in January. This event represents an incredible opportunity for AIA to work with mayors to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon in new and existing buildings, and to promote architects as essential partners to city leaders. 
AIA has reached out to components in Coalition-member jurisdictions, and to communicate to elected officials about resources the architecture community can offer to them on this important issue. 
To learn more about BPS and to share info with other AIA members on this important advocacy effort, please join the COTE Network quarterly meeting (at which we will discuss this as part of that group’s broader agenda). If you are interested in joining, please email Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us for more info on BPS, and how you can get involved. 

Kathleen Lane, AIA 
Managing Director, Sustainability & Resources 


Michael Winn, AIA 
Senior Manager, State & Local Policy 

Resources on Building Performance Standards 

National BPS Coalition Overview of Building Performance Standards (BPS); info on the 33 jurisdictions participating in the Coalition, and FAQs 

BPS-Framework_July-2021_final.pdf ( Building Performance Standards: A Framework for Equitable Policies to Address Existing Buildings 
Building Performance Standards - USDN: Urban Sustainability Directors Network: Watch recordings of a 3-part webinar series to support stakeholders in exploring and engaging in opportunities related to BPS policy. Each webinar focused on a specific audience, but we encourage interested stakeholders to join all three webinars to hear different perspectives.  Part 1: local governments; Part 2: community; Part 3: industry professionals (building owners, operators, facility managers, architects, engineers, and many others.) 

Model Ordinance for Building Performance Standards | IMT 
Institute for Market Transformation Model Ordinance and many other BPS resources 

Understanding and Choosing Metrics for Building Performance Standards and Zero-Carbon Recognition 

Benchmarking and Building Performance Standards Policy Toolkit 

EPA toolkit for state and local governments exploring policies to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in existing buildings.