COTE Chair letter: January 2018


Happy New Year COTE members! I am honored to assume the 25th chair of the AIA Committee on the Environment Advisory Group and follow in the footsteps of Mary Ann Lazarus, FAIA. Under Mary Ann’s leadership, COTE accomplished much during a period when we witnessed a tumultuous national political climate and a changing environmental climate. These achievements include publishing The Habits of High-Performance Firms, collaborating with Architecture 2030 to expand COTE Top Ten for students and to include paid summer internships, sending letters to DOE and EPA Senate Hearing Committees, and visiting Capitol Hill for follow up. Expanding our advocacy work, we created the COTE Advocacy network.

Building on our efforts in 2017, our priorities will be to continue supporting small firms and the importance of design. Smaller firms account for nearly all AIA members, but make up only 39 percent of firms that have won more than one COTE Top Ten award. It is critical that COTE Top Ten showcases firms and projects of diverse sizes and location—that richness is part of what makes the award important and broadly relevant to both the profession and to others outside of our circle.

COTE's 2017 report, The Habits of High-Performance Firms notes that COTE Top Ten firm winners do not match industry trends (after removing very large firms, the average size is 75, while the average size of AIA member firms is 11). These firms see sustainable design as broader than just technical performance. As a small firm owner myself, I understand the benefits of having great tools at hand to be able to produce quality design, and towards that end, COTE will be creating a toolkit for firms to use based on our COTE Top Ten Criteria, that will be available on the COTE website.

The AIA has boldly acknowledged that climate change is one of the biggest global crises of the 21st century and architects play a vital role in combating it. We know design and performance are inextricably linked and COTE will continue to support this goal and showcase the best of high-performance design to the world.

I welcome your thoughts, feel free to email me at

Brooks_signature.jpgAngie Brooks, FAIA

2018 Chair, AIA Committee on the Environment Advisory Group