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 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: Kingspan, 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. 

How is the CCADE distinct from the COTE?

By Vincent Martinez Hon. AIA posted 04-25-2022 03:19 PM


As national committees, both the Committee on Climate Action and Design Excellence (CCADE) and the Committee On The Environment (COTE) share an interest in advancing the AIA Climate Action Plan and focusing on the priority topics of Advocacy, Awards, AIA Policies and Operational Implementation, Academic Education, Professional Education (both content and delivery), Public Outreach and Research. Additionally, both CCADE and COTE support the accessibility, implementation, and evolution of the AIA Framework for Design Excellence 

The charges and approaches to accomplishing these goals do, however, vary from CCADE to COTE.  

COTE is the group of innovators, and thought- and practice-leaders spread throughout nearly all components that implement and advance the AIA Climate Action Plan and promote the accessibility and evolution of the AIA COTE Top Ten and the Framework for Design Excellence. As noted by the 2022 COTE Chair Billie J. Faircloth in her January letter “[COTE] volunteers are individuals, groups, and firms who have and continue to offer their vision, expertise, and resources to achieve a healthy, equitable, and sustainable future. They are jurors, technical reviewers, advocates, practitioners, students, and educators who collectively expand and improve upon [COTE’s] key programs: The COTE Top Ten Awards and The COTE Top Ten for Students Competition.” Additionally, COTE has initiated “essential work examining the intersection between design excellence, climate action, and climate justice” through the newly launched AIA COTE Climate Action and Climate Justice subcommittee. COTE does this and much more. They are pushing the boundaries of driving sustainability, equity and resilience through design within the Institute.  COTE is one of many AIA Knowledge Communities and internal AIA stakeholders working to advance these efforts. 

CCADE’s role is to advise, coordinate, and align climate action and design excellence efforts throughout the Institute. CCADE tracks the moving parts and helps to align them.  CCADE is not a Knowledge Committee or a Working Group, but rather is an informed Board-level committee that can harness a set of collective actions across the Institute and acts as a conduit to advise the Board to support and expand those actions from the top down. CCADE connects the subject matter expertise, thought and practice leadership, and innovative thinking of COTE to other internal AIA stakeholders and staff efforts on climate action and design excellence. 

CCADE’s official committee charge is to:  

  • advise the Board on issues to support transformation of the day-to-day practice of architects to achieve a zero-carbon, equitable, resilient and healthy built environment as defined in the Framework of Design Excellence;  
  • coordinate activities between related committees and advise on program prioritization; and 
  • provide expertise and influence to align and utilize external messaging to leverage support of peers, clients, policy makers, and the public. 

While CCADE works to ‘propel the bell’ forward and advance our entire industry, COTE is the leading edge of that bell.  CCADE views COTE as a critical internal AIA stakeholder in all priority topics related to the Climate Action Plan, as well as the AIA Framework for Design Excellence’s continual review and development, and its ongoing integration into AIA's programs and education. We look forward to working with COTE and other internal AIA stakeholders to fulfill our charge and support your efforts. Together, we have greater impact across the Institute with two groups working on the front lines of climate action – one driving change (COTE) and one aligning efforts with other stakeholders (CCADE).   
There is plenty of work – and collaboration - to be done! 


Vincent Martinez, Hon. AIA, is the President and COO of Architecture 2030 and is acting as the 2022 Chair of the Committee on Climate Action and Design Excellence (CCADE)