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.

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To learn about the Framework for Design Excellence (formerly the COTE Top Ten Measures), click 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, Compass Datacenters
Allied partners: TLC Engineering, Sierra Pacific Windows

Letter from the Chair: September/October 2023

By Lori Ferriss AIA posted 08-24-2023 02:52 PM


Dear COTE Community,

This summer has been a roller coaster for anyone following the climate news. I won’t recap any of the alarming headlines  – we are living them daily. Instead, I want to celebrate the major policy wins occurring on all fronts, in part thanks to this community. In London, an unprecedented decision barred the demolish a historic Marks & Spencer store after a lengthy battle over environmental and heritage value. The State of California became the first in the United States to incorporate embodied carbon reduction requirements into their building code after tireless advocacy by AIA California and many others. In Massachusetts, the new Specialized Opt-In Code requires Passive House level construction for all large multi-family residential buildings, ensuring that all residents have healthy, comfortable, and low-energy housing. Louisiana leaped forward to adopt the 2021 IECC, emerging as a climate leader and paving the way for resilient and efficient development. It is advances like these that reassure me that our voices, our work, and our perseverance are making a difference.

Another source of optimism is the next generation of architects, and I am thrilled to congratulate the winners of this year’s COTE Top Ten for Students Competition! The winning projects each respond to the pressing needs  – cultural, environmental, and spatial – of their sites. They balance high-performance design with a sensitivity to the people who would inhabit and engage with their spaces. They explore new ways of design, buildings, and living based in renewable materials, local traditions, and community revitalization. Kudos to the record number of students and faculty who participated in the program this year. Find out more about the program from COTE LG Member Robin Puttock here

I am also excited to announce the opening of the 2024 COTE Top Ten Awards submission window. This year’s program continues to evolve to capture the leading edge of holistic sustainability, including updates to the criteria and the super spreadsheet. Notably, we continue to advance the Equitable Communities measure (led by LG member Helena Zambrano) to challenge teams to truly strive for equity and create positive impact at all scales. Read more in Helena’s article here. As Michelle Amt states in her recent article about the program, “The Top Ten is more than an accolade; it is a framework to transform how we practice.” Show us how you are transforming practice by submitting by October 26th!

Lori Ferriss, AIA, PE

2023 COTE Chair

(image: Top Ten Student winner Gabriel Cachapuz Velasco, "RELINQUETUR RESEARCH CENTER")