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 last newsletter (and follow us on Twitter).

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

If you missed the 2020 Top Ten Toast, download a recording here

A big thank you to our partners: 
Founding partner: Building Green
Sustaining partners: Lucifer Lighting Company, Kingspan
Green partners: AutodeskEPIC MetalsHKS,  ROCKWOOL, WRNSSkanska, Thornton Thomasseti
Allied partners: BNIM, Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects, LMN David Baker Architects, Integral

Supporting partners: Humanscale, Mahlum, BPKC, Opsis

GAF x COTE: Looking at the Future

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

New COTE Advisory Group Member: Kira Gould, Allied AIA

By Kira L. Gould posted 07-12-2020 10:59 AM


New COTE Advisory Group Member: Kira Gould, Allied AIA 

This month, we share the voice of the fourth of the four new COTE Advisory Group members for 2020, Kira Gould, Allied AIA. See past stories to learn about Julie Snow, FAIA; Billie Faircloth, AIA; and Billie Tsien, AIA. 

Kira Gould is an Allied AIA member; she is a communications professional and principal of Kira Gould CONNECT, a consultancy that helps people and firms with storytelling and thought leadership. She worked in-house at William McDonough + Partners and Gould Evans, and before that as an editor at Metropolis. She co-authored, with Lance Hosey, Women in Green: Voices of Sustainable Design (Ecotone, 2007), and today co-hosts, with Lindsay Baker, the Design the Future podcast on Acuity’s Women in Sustainability platform.  

Why did you seek to join COTE leadership now and what do you hope to do while on the Advisory Group?  

 I had the honor of serving as COTE chair in 2007 and have remained engaged since that time. I applied to the Advisory role again because I continue to believe that architects have a key role in climate action and climate justice, and I want to help shape that opportunity (and the role of COTE at 30 years of influence), as the AIA and the industry evolve. Climate crisis challenges and opportunities, for designers and for us all, are rooted in communications.  

The AIA’s move to a practice transformation for climate action is significant. In that context, I am interested in 1) advancing innovation and accelerating progress on climate action and climate justice through design 2) clarifying COTE’s role as a champion of the leading edge; 3) empowering the COTE community; 4) inspiring architects to transform their practices and be visible and vocal leaders; and 5) collaborating with other groups -- such as the Centering Equity in Sustainable Building Sector and the Carbon Leadership Forum 

Where is the climate conversation now? 

For years, many of us have talked about climate, systemic injustice, and other problems, as public health problems. But now, when we are experiencing the public health dimensions of a pandemic, we are getting a taste of what climate impact will feel like, including the inexorable nature of it.  

This year of “upside down” seems disorienting, but I hope it could also become what COTE founder Bob Berkebile once anticipated, a year of perfect vision. While American individualism and exceptionalism seem to be bringing our democracy to its knees (and letting the virus go uncontained), there is also mutual aid and a clarity of vision about our weaknesses laid bare, about systemic injustice, and about the climate realities we face as a species. It will take a cultural change of heart and intense persistence toward innovation, but we could still reverse warmingThe role of design has never been so clear.