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This month, the Committee on the Environment (COTE) of AIA LA organized and launched 2°C, A COTE AIA|LA Symposium on Climate Change on March 2nd, 2018 at the Department of Water and Power in Downtown Los Angeles. The intention of the symposium was to serve as a unifying platform for the public, the architectural design community, the building industry, universities, policy makers, civic leaders and transportation entities to address the urgent sustainability issues challenging our society today. The symposium’s name is based on the need to keep the global average temperature from rising more than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels in hopes ...
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AIA COTE Advocacy and AIA Government Relations and Advocacy staff had their first monthly conference call on March 13, 2018. As most COTE Advocacy priorities concern protecting Federal funding for programs and agencies that support sustainable design, the discussion focused primarily on the 2019 federal budget. The Administration’s budget proposal that drastically reduced funding to the EPA and DOE was met with “deep skepticism” on The Hill. Instead, an omnibus FY’18 spending bill was passed by Congress in February. AIA Government Relations reports that the production of this stop-gap spending resolution was “opaque” and the full extent of interim funding ...
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by Lacy Cagle The Project Drawdown EcoChallenge is a fun and social way to learn about and take action on the 100 most substantive solutions to global warming. Drawdown EcoChallenge provides individuals and organizations tools and inspiration to turn intention into action and gives participants a fun and social way to think about and act on proven solutions to reverse global warming. Over eighty actions within seven Challenge categories provide participants with diverse options to reduce carbon usage. The free Challenge takes place April 4-25.  Participants track and share their progress online in a robust platform and earn points for taking action. ...
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The AIA 2030 Commitment is thrilled to be participating in the COTE Open Forum at the A’18 Conference, set for Friday, June 22 from 1:30 to 3:30 pm. As the 2030 Working Group Co-Chair, I will be focusing on the benefits of collaborating with fellow 2030 signatories through regional groups, such as those currently active in Boston, California’s Central Coast, Chicago, and Seattle. (Another 14 local chapters have identified 2030 interest groups in their region as well). I will be joined by several regional group members to discuss how starting or strengthening a local group can help to effectively: share resources and solutions to common challenges, and collaborate ...
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Many believe that, in the future, the most valuable designers will be those who combine skills from business, technology and the world of design.  This newsletter is devoted to those straddling all three. Our COTE members are prepared for A’18 with seminars on how firms are striving for carbon neutrality , beauty and thermodynamics in building skins and how award-winning designs are performing beautifully .   We encourage members of large and small firms to join us at our COTE Open Forum on Friday and join national and regional COTE members to discuss how architects can be effective in keeping issues of sustainability, resilience, and equity ...
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by Helene Chartier, Senior Advisor, Reinventing Cities, C40 Climate Leadership Group   Don’t miss this great opportunity to participate in a global competition for innovative carbon-free resilient urban solutions led by C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. The competition has identified 49 sites in 19 cities to transform into showcase solutions for carbon-neutral and resilient urban regeneration. From the website: “Reinventing Cities is a great opportunity for cities, urban development stakeholders, and citizens to benefit from this ‘open source’ and international contest designed to accelerate decarbonised , resilient and sustainable urban environments ...
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Image: Kari Rosteck The first annual Sustainable Detroit Forum did not only preach on the importance of sustainability, it took the first steps of promoting it, firsthand. Creating a sustainability movement in Detroit requires the support of numerous institutions, the community, and the government. This forum promoted communication between these strong pillars of Detroit by allowing opportunities for these stakeholders to present their sustainable projects in Detroit, collaborate and get a better understanding of how we will all work together to bring sustainability to the forefront of our city. AIA Detroit COTE, U.S. Green Building Council, ...
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Julie Hiromoto, AIA, is a stellar example of the kind of architect who is deeply involved with developing standards, information sharing amongst firms, and other industry activities. Hiromoto, a Senior Vice President at HKS and its New York Office DIrector, has managed a diverse variety of projects including One World Trade Center in New York and the Tropicana Field Vision Plan (transformation of an existing MLB ballpark into mixed-use district in St. Petersburg, Florida, as well as hospitality interiors. She will be an important liaison for COTE to the Large Firm Roundtable and its Sustainability Group (she is a former chair). “I will be working on ...
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This year, the National AIA Committee on the Environment’s Advisory Group has created a new task force on political advocacy. This task force’s mission is to coordinate with AIA Advocacy and Government Relationships staff in Washington, DC, to act in support of federal policy and legislative issues that align with COTE’s core principles. Directed by 2019 COTE Chair Marsha Maytum, FAIA, and chaired by me, the team includes COTE AG member Julie Hiromoto, AIA; John Harrison, AIA; and Leslie Garner, AIA. Working with the full COTE AG, we have drafted a six-point list of issues and topics that--given the possible actions of this Congress and Administration--are ...
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Gunnar Hubbard, FAIA, has been a sustainable design leader for many years. He has served on the Maine AIA board of directors, he chaired Maine’s COTE chapter for many years—which included organizing a regional leadership summit — and he has worked within the USGBC as well. He is no stranger to AIA COTE, having worked with the team in the 1990s on such efforts as the Greening of the White House. Joining the national AIA COTE Advisory Group at this time feels, he says, like coming full circle. Hubbard is coming back to the AIA, at a time when he believes that architecture needs to take a stronger leadership role in sustainable design. He feels energized to ...
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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 ...
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We are looking forward to working with our newest COTE Advisory Group members who bring diverse perspectives and wisdom: Vikram Sami, Olson Kundig’s Director of Building Performance, Corey Squire, AIA, Lake | Flato Architects Sustainability Coordinator, Julie Hiromoto, AIA, New York Office Director and Vice President at HKS and Gunnar Hubbard, FAIA, Thornton Tomasetti’s Sustainability practice leader and principal. Recognizing our growing local COTE components and increased need for communication, we introduce two COTE strategists: Communications Ambassador Kira Gould, Allied AIA and Advocacy Ambassador Mike Davis, FAIA. I would like to thank and recognize ...
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MH house, designed by COULSON, has a 90 percent PEUI reduction without any renewable energy system. Image: COULSON NOAA just announced that 2017 was a record year for cost impacts in the US due to extreme weather events and set a new record for cumulative costs. At the same time, there's a growing scientific understanding of the contribution of climate change to these events which indicates this could become a new normal . That’s one reason why this report from the National Institute of Building Sciences, " Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves: 2017 Interim Report ” is so very valuable to architects. It shares a careful analysis involving many federal ...
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Image: Emily Coleman-Wolf Nestled in the mountains of North Carolina, Asheville is uniquely qualified to provide a collaborative environment between climate scientists and other groups. Over the last 66 years, climate data from all over the world has been gathered and stored at the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville. Currently, the City is home to the headquarters of the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI), part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Numerous climate scientists call Asheville their home, which has allowed Asheville, often called “Climate City”, to tap into an incredible wealth ...
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Image: Milken Institute School of Public Health, George Washington University, © Robert Benson Photography The AIA COTE Top Ten awards are among the most prestigious in the profession. The program rewards projects that demonstrate design excellence and high performing buildings. The Top Ten consists of ten measures that assess projects on water, energy, wellness and more. The rigor of the award sets it apart from many other industry awards and submitting may seem daunting. There are clear benefits if your project earns recognition like national attention and press opportunities. However, there are a number of benefits to simply submitting, ...
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How DPR’s Living Labs are pioneering net-zero energy building certification by Yumi Clevenger, DPR Construction In the ever-evolving sustainable design and construction arena, many owners and project teams are setting their sights on a goal that seemed improbable just a short time ago: creating commercial buildings that produce as much or more energy as they consume each year, known as net-zero energy buildings. In total, DPR has built four International Living Future Institute (ILFI) net-zero certified projects—the David and Lucile Packard Foundation corporate headquarters, as well as three award-winning net-zero DPR offices in Phoenix, ...
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The AIA COTE Advisory Group (known as the AG) is a group currently of 11 AIA members representing different constituencies (firm sizes, regions, etc.). The group works towards COTE’s mission 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.” Task areas include awards, advocacy, communications, and research. COTE is one of the oldest AIA Knowledge Committees originally founded in 1990 by Bob Berkebile as an outcome of the energy movement. COTE’s signature Top Ten Awards program was started shortly after that in 1995. ...
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vonderauvisuals (Flickr) | License: goo.gl/WkS2Rl By Heather Holdridge, Assoc. AIA and Greg Mella, FAIA, Co-Chairs, AIA 2030 Working Group With the announcement last month of the impending US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, we wanted to take this opportunity to thank the participating signatories of the 2030 Commitment . Like the Paris Agreement, the 2030 Commitment was created specifically to respond to scientific projections on greenhouse gas reductions needed to prevent 2-degree Celsius climate change—meaning that signing on to and actively participating in the 2030 Commitment is a direct way to support the climate accord’s goals. ...
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AIA COTE 2017 Forum

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By Karen Robichaud Thank you to everyone who joined us last month at the COTE Forum! For those who weren’t able to join us, we hosted a number of rapid-fire roundtable discussions, ranging from social media advocacy to the resilience working group to the 2030 Commitment to a Mini Hackathon. Our two-hour session was filled with lively conversations, none more so than our Mini Hackathon focused on hacking for change in regards to the proposed 2018 Federal Budget. "I was really enthusiastic about this event because it provided a chance for newcomers to the concept of resilient design to sit with experts who were drawn to the topic. We had energetic, ...
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A few months ago the newly formed COTE Advocacy committee drafted a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and requested signatures of support from architecture and design firms. The letter framed the importance of programs — Energy Star and the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) in particular — not just in their work preserving the environment and resources but also citing them as critical for the practice of sustainable design and construction. The letter, addressed to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and coordinated through the advocacy team at the American Institute of Architects (AIA), received a wonderful amount of support—775 ...
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