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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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 2019

By Marsha A. Maytum FAIA posted 09-17-2019 12:16 PM


Congratulations to all COTE members and to the AIA!  

On September 4 in Pittsburgh the AIA Board ratified Resolution 19-11: Resolution for Urgent and Sustained Climate Action (overwhelmingly passed by AIA members in June) and adopted the AIA Framework for Design Excellence (based on the COTE Top Ten Measures) to transform day-to-day practice by all architects to achieve a zero-carbon, equitable, resilient and healthy built environment.  This is an historic moment for the AIA and a moment of great achievement for the members of the COTE community.  

I presented the Framework for Design Excellence to the Board on September 4 and witnessed the unanimous decision to adopt the Framework and ratify of the Climate Action Resolution. It was a thrilling moment to see the members of the AIA Board enthusiastically discuss and approve both items and commit to the creation of a Climate Action Plan in 2020.Now the big work will begin on developing the Climate Action Plan as well as education programs, outreach and advocacy efforts on climate action at AIA national and in collaboration with AIA Chapters and members across the country. We thank the members of the AIA Board for their leadership and vision in addressing this greatest challenge of our time – the climate crisis.

We must also acknowledge all of the COTE members who over the last 30 years have been the visionary environmental leaders and innovators for the AIA, developers of the Framework for Design Excellence and initiators of the Climate Resolution. We have had great impact on the profession and our work together will continue as the next steps in climate action unfold at the AIA.

Following the AIA Board meeting there was a gathering of the AIA Sustainability Leadership Group (SLG) including COTE in Washington, DC. This group is comprised of representatives from all the sustainability working groups and Knowledge Communities in the AIA.  It is an amazing group of dedicated leaders focused on environmental issues ranging from health, resilience, energy, adaptation and mitigation, materials and resources. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the role and structure of the SLG and how these groups will contribute to the “Big Move” on Climate Action at the AIA. We will be reconvening soon. 

In other news, the AIA is working with the U.S House Committee on Energy & Commerce on comprehensive legislation to address the climate crisis and transition the country towards a goal of reaching a 100% clean economy by 2050. This advocacy includes Congressional testimony from 2018 AIA President Carl Elefante on September 20 to share decarbonization strategies and the important role of architects in achieving a zero carbon regenerative future for all communities. 

There is no shortage of action this month and ahead including the focus on Climate Action in the Presidential race; AIA Advocacy response to Presidential roll-backs on methane gas emissions, clean water protection and energy efficient light bulbs; the Climate Strike on September 20; the UN Climate Summit meetings in New York; the Carbon Positive Summit in Chicago, and the upcoming Getting To Zero Forum in Oakland next month, and Greenbuild in Atlanta in November.  This is a time of great challenges and also opportunities for architects. There is significant  work ahead as we chart a path of climate action leadership and continue to make valuable contributions to our profession, our communities and our future.

Marsha Maytum, FAIA
signature- Marsha


10-11-2019 11:27 AM

Thanks for all your and the COTE AG's hard work.  I agree this is a time of great challenges and opportunities.  I and many others are energized by what's happening nationally as part of the AIA but also in our own communities.  Thanks again!

09-28-2019 07:54 PM

Excellent letter Marsha and thank you for your spearheading and relentless determination!
Looking forward to next steps- I feel like we can really make a difference.

09-26-2019 12:45 PM

Thank you for all the hard work and inspiring efforts on behalf of the planet.