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Image: International Living Future Institute By Lona Rerick, AIA There is often a disconnect between our individual actions as designers and the downstream impacts of those decisions. We say what we want healthy, responsibly sourced products in every building. But it’s time to close the gap between the world we want and the actions we take. Collaboration. It’s the buzzword we’re all using. And it’s also the only way forward if we want to fundamentally change the building products industry, a goal I’m passionate about as the chair of the AIA Materials Knowledge Working Group. Changing the industry means changing how products are made, what we ...
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Seen & heard at A'18

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This is what plurality looks like--there was a flashmob outside the Javits Center midday on Friday with calls for equity and inclusion from Beverly Willis, FAIA; Rosa Sheng, FAIA; and others;  Architect covered the event .  By Kira Gould The national AIA Conference on Architecture is always very busy, and dropping it into New York City seemed to heighten that quality -- and infuse it with a keen sense of celebrating the city, which was just right for the Blueprint for Better Communities agenda and the New Urban Agenda backdrop to AIA activities. For COTE, the history and leadership around green building in New York make it perfect, too, and we had ...
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Corey Squire, AIA and Tate Walker, AIA share the Top Ten Toolkit with Z Smith, FAIA, on the A'18 Expo Floor. Image: Kira Gould By Corey Squire, AIA and Tate Walker, AIA AIA’s COTE Top Ten Measures of Design have been the benchmark for high performance and high design for the past 25 plus years. Recently, they’ve taken on new life. This year, a task group of subject matter experts from across the country put together a meta-analysis of the award criteria in the form of a COTE Top Ten Toolkit (Phase 1) that debuted in June at A’18. The intent is to make the criteria accessible to all practicing architects by cataloging the vast amount of resources ...
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Image: Olson Kundig By Kira Gould The AIA Committee on the Environment’s COTE Top Ten awards program celebrates the integration of design excellence and sustainability. Among the 2018 recipients was Olson Kundig’s Sawmill House, an off-the-grid performer chock-full of innovations (11kW array with battery storage, thermal mass, sun shading, ground source heat pump and radiant floor, LED lighting and passive cooling strategies and the use of salvaged materials from the site). By these measures, the project seems an obvious contender for exemplary sustainable design excellence, the purpose of COTE Top Ten. On the other hand, does a 4,000-square-foot house ...
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Dear AIA COTE colleagues, New York City in June...a great way to start the summer and an excellent host city for all of the positive energy at A’18! From Battery Park to Bryant Park to the Highline to Times Square, NYC proved that density and livability are not mutually exclusive. Some highlights from the conference (more below in “Seen & Heard”): The beta version of the COTE Top Ten Toolkit has launched! The COTE Top Ten recipients were celebrated: Common trends among projects included the use of existing buildings (almost half) and integrating into a larger social/cultural community beyond the property line; listening to the neighborhood. ...
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From left: Bergmeyer President Mike Davis, FAIA; Building Codes Assistance Project President Maureen Guttman, AIA; AIA 2018 President Carl Elefante, FAIA; Velux Group Vice President, Stakeholder Communications & Sustainability, Ingrid Reumert; Raybased Chief Technology Officer Jan Ryderstam By Mike Davis, FAIA AIA promotes AIA 2030 Commitment on a world stage, says US policymakers must do more At the Alliance to Save Energy’s 2018 EE Global Forum in Copenhagen, AIA President Carl Elefante, FAIA, called on architects, industries and governments to do more to achieve a carbon neutral built environment by the 2050 deadline. Elefante moderated ...
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by Corey Z. Squire, AIA, Lake|Flato Architects When I was a freshman in college, Majora Carter spoke to my Environmental Science 101 class about environmental justice. She had just won a MacArthur genius grant for her work revitalizing her community’s forgotten waterfront with her organization, Sustainable South Bronx, and she discussed her experience as an advocate for the community and the environment. Last month, I got to hear Carter speak for a second time as the keynote of the 2018 Living Future UnConference. Her talk and her work were just as inspiring as it had been more than a decade earlier, but this time, instead of introducing herself as an ...
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By Betsy del Monte, FAIA Our environment is subjected to the increasing frequency and severity of many kinds of emergencies. Some of these are the results of changing climate and weather patterns; others are the result of infrastructure failure or of dangerous human behavior. All can have profound impacts on the safety and welfare of the public. We’ve heard a lot about resiliency and resilient design lately, but like other important topics, not everyone defines these in the same way, or has a working knowledge of the issues.  Designing buildings to withstand the stresses they will be subjected to is not a new idea, but as the nature of those stresses ...
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By Kira Gould “Are your buildings survivable? Are your buildings joyful places?” These are the questions that Vikram Sami, AIA, LEED AP, asks every day. And every day, he insists that, as designers, “we have to lead with passive strategies.” Sami, who is Director of Building Performance with Olson Kundig in Seattle, and is a new member of the AIA COTE Advisory Group this year, has nurtured an interest in passive design and architecture since school (undergrad at Academy of Architecture in Bombay and master’s degree at Arizona State University where he focused on building performance and simulation and experimentation) and throughout his career. ...
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By Gina Bocra, AIA Zero Code , released in April, is Architecture 2030’s proposal to guide jurisdictions to a different model building energy standard for new commercial, institutional, and mid- to high-rise residential buildings, one that is intended to achieve zero-net-carbon (ZNC) buildings. It’s based on ASHRAE 90.1-2016, which leading jurisdictions will be adopting over the next year or two. If you also read that as many jurisdictions will not be adopting it anytime soon, you would be correct; despite federal law that requires states to maintain an energy code that is consistent with the national standard, many states are one or two cycles ...
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By Angela Brooks, FAIA Minneapolis in May is all about welcoming the coming warmth with celebrations and events. This city also happens to be the home base of Snow Kreilich Architects , winner of the 2018 AIA Firm Award. With a body of work that is understated and welcoming, an ideology that is restrained and, in their own words, “peaceful,” the firm designs elegant spaces that recognize and enhance our everyday experiences. We were privileged to have Julie Snow, FAIA, as a juror on the AIA COTE Top Ten Awards this year. A special congratulations to the entire firm’s dedication and leadership, setting an example for all of us. We have heard ...
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Corey Squire, AIA-CHK, says he fell into COTE. If that’s true, then it’s the best kind of accident, and he seems quite at home. He served as chair of the AIA San Antonio chapter of COTE for three years, and this year joined the Advisory Group of the national committee. Squire is Sustainability Manager with Lake Flato Architects (LINK) in San Antonio, where he does technical analysis and simulations for projects in design as well as Post Occupancy Evaluations (a subject about which he has written). “COTE is the organization I connect with most deeply,” he says. “I closely align with the COTE mission. I think this group is poised for strong forward movement.” ...
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The US Congress agreed with AIA COTE Advocacy’s priorities and upheld or increased funding levels for the US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy programs in its recently-passed omnibus spending bill. This bill, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, passed in March, will keep ENERGY STAR, the DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Office (EERE) and Building Technologies Office (BTO), among many other programs and laboratories, fully funded through September 30, 2018. The House and Senate Appropriations Committees and their many Subcommittees will be taking up action on the full 2019 US Federal Budget in May and June. ...
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Spring is the perfect time to...celebrate the COTE Top Ten Award winners, which are leading the industry by design that recognizes the realities of our era. It’s also a good time to remind FEMA of the importance of those realities. Recently, the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) removed the reference to "climate change" from their strategic plan. This is especially troubling considering that FEMA is responsible for coordinating the government's disaster response. Removal of this key terminology promotes an "alternate reality" and a perception that climate change is not responsible for the increase in many of our natural disasters. As architects ...
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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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