Committee on the Environment


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The AIA Committee on the Environment (COTE®) works to advance, disseminate, and advocate design practices that integrate built and natural systems and enhance both the design quality and environmental performance of the built environment. 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 >

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. 

Partner Content: HKS joins the UN Global Compact: join us!

By Rand K. Ekman FAIA, LEED AP BD+C posted 09-21-2020 11:32


First a personal reflection … my professional satisfaction as an architect is an ongoing balance between the accomplishments of any individual project and the vision, values, culture, and influence of the firm as a practice. The impact of a project is critical, and the scale of a practice is essential. Addressing the challenges of climate change, sustainability, justice, equity, diversity and inclusion and public interest design is a both/and proposition. It is local and global, personal and organizational, tactical and strategic. Truly a nested system.


Here at HKS, we adopted a new Strategic Plan in 2019 and are committed to making this an active, living plan. As a part of this, we sought greater relevance and impact for our sustainability, public interest design, and justice, equity, diversity and inclusion (JEDI) endeavors. We have brought together leadership and governance for sustainability, Citizen HKS (Public Interest Design) and JEDI through an Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) platform. This touches the projects and work we do for our clients, the business of how we do this work and our enterprise, and the impact we create through public interest design.


HKS joined the UN Global Compact.

The framework to enable all of this to stick at HKS, a big global firm, is the United Nations Global Compact and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. We are proud to say that HKS formally joined the UN Global Compact as a Participant in January. We have four broad goals:

  • Embed sustainability, public interest design, justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion strategy within universal principles, building on international standards
  • Communicate commitment and actions both internally and externally
  • Provide stakeholders with studied, strategic, and credible information
  • Establish a standard for HKS ESG reporting and a foundation for continuous improvement building on the Strategic Plan


From our CEO, Dan Noble’s, letter found on the UN Website,


HKS is a global architecture, design, planning and advisory practice that touches the lives of millions. It is within our power to make a positive difference in protecting our planet, creating more equitable, sustainable and beautiful communities, and encouraging others to join us on that journey. We are pleased to join the United Nations and our fellow Compact participants in that mission.


We believe that being a Participant in the UN Global Compact is critical scale-jump for our firm globally and our profession. It activates purpose across the firm from staff to the project and client, to the enterprise and the communities we work with. By joining with over 11,000 global companies in 157 countries we will make a positive difference. I am personally proud to have been part of this work and invite you to explore HKS 2020 Environmental, Social and Governance Touchstone Report  our efforts ranging from design leadership to JEDI, to healthy materials, to the first HKS carbon footprint and the enormously impactful public interest design work of Citizen HKS.


It is truly a nested system … and one to be proud of. Join us.

Rand Ekman is Chief Sustainability Officer at HKS. Rand has a passion both for projects and for driving broad-based, measurable change within a practice and our profession. He is part of HKS’ Environmental, Social & Governance Leadership team bringing together firmwide leadership advancing sustainability, public interest design and justice, equity, diversity and inclusion. Rand is on the Board of the Health Product Declaration Collaborative, served as a Board member of the Illinois Green Alliance and on many national AIA and USGBC committees.  He was the 2012 President of AIA Chicago, the 2015 Chair of the AIA Committee on the Environment and continues to be involved with the AIA 2030 Commitment. Rand’s small urban backyard is inhabited by chickens, an adaptive reuse of his children’s playhouse. He can tell you from this experience that the chicken absolutely came before the egg.