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

CCADE Update: Our Framework for Design Excellence: Aligned for Climate Action

By Mary Ann Lazarus FAIA posted 06-28-2022 09:21 AM


By Mary Ann Lazarus, FAIA, and Allison Anderson, FAIA 

The Climate Change and Design Excellence (CCADE) Board Committee this year took on oversight of updating the Framework for Design Excellence, the AIA’s definition of design excellence in the twenty-first century. The first task was to identify members of a new Working Group who will engage in the updating process this year to drive towards full implementation of the Framework across the profession. In the most recent AIA Sustainability Survey nearly half of all respondents reported that they were not familiar with AIA’s Framework for Design Excellence, so we clearly have a long way to go.  

COTE’s development and evolution of the Top Ten measures has been foundational to bringing sustainability to the profession. The Framework was last updated in fall 2021 by a group of 30 volunteers who examined and refined each of the ten principles. The first priority for the 2022 Working Group is to integrate the four primary climate action goals– equity, health, zero carbon and resilience – across the Framework. They will also work to emphasize the important role of adaptive reuse of existing buildings. 

CCADE members have been laying the groundwork for the new Working Group.  They determined the makeup of the Working Group to include three members of a former Framework task group for continuity, four new voices to provide a fresh perspective, and three members of CCADE to integrate the work across the Institute. We looked for people with deep experience in resilience, equity, health, and zero carbon and a strong ability to integrate these goals across all ten principles. A call for interested members resulted in exciting and enthusiastic applicants. Each member will serve for two years to establish a rotating roster for continuity. Names of the Working Group members will be available later this summer.  

The charge of the new Working Group includes: 

  • Developing a strategy for Framework content updates.  
  • Addressing the need for a balance between responding to urgent challenges and the goal of full implementation.  
  • Determining the schedule and content for Framework updates. 
  • Obtaining feedback and stakeholder engagement to determine the effectiveness of Framework in reaching its goal of broad implementation. 
  • Communicating and coordinating with related groups: COTE and other Knowledge Communities, CCADE, Honors & Awards, Education, and Marketing. 

The partnership between COTE and CCADE will continue to expand the professional understanding and adoption of the Framework for Design Excellence. The role of the COTE Network is critically important to develop professional skills, mentoring, and wider adoption by firms of every size and all geographic regions. 

Stay tuned for Framework updates as the Working Group gets underway. 

CCADE is an AIA Board Committee created to advise, coordinate, and align climate action and design excellence efforts throughout the Institute. Authors Mary Ann Lazarus, FAIA, and Allison Anderson, FAIA, are members of the group, whose 2022 chair is Vince Martinez, Hon. AIA.