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 sponsors: 
Founding sponsor: Building Green
Presenting sponsor: GAF Roofing 

Sustaining sponsor: Lucifer Lighting Company, Kingspan
Green sponsors: AutodeskEPIC MetalsHKS, BPKC, ROCKWOOL, WRNSSkanska,
Allied sponsors: BNIM, Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects, LMN David Baker Architects   

Supporting sponsors: Humanscale, Mahlum 

GAF x COTE: Looking at the Future

This 2019 video was compiled by GAF, a COTE sponsor. 

When Stormwater Becomes a Matter of Life or Death

  • 1.  When Stormwater Becomes a Matter of Life or Death

    Posted 03-22-2019 13:34


    The recent "The great bomb cyclone" in Colorado, the late winter floods of the Midwest, and all kinds of extreme weather remind us that the built environment has to adapt to new challenges. This article addresses how extreme precipitation challenges conventional ways of handling stormwater.

    Floods have been around forever and since at least Noah people understood the relation of rain and flood, cherished water as the source of life and  feared it for its destructive powers.
    The town of Garessio, Italy, Nov. 2016 

    For most of history rain and water were a divine matter over which people had no say except for sometimes ingenious attempts for managing both such as Mesopotamia's river irrigation and Roman aqueducts. Such sophistication was mostly forgotten again in the Western Hemisphere during the Middle ages. Cities remained cesspools until early of the 20th centuries.

    Like in most parts of the world planners, engineers and hydrologists have to concern themselves with water in earnest when industrialization leads to rapid urbanization and water is in high demand where it is often not easily accessed, for drinking,  power and production. How to manage rain runoff has been an afterthought except for arid zones where water has always been handled as a precious commodity.  Run-off as a source of pollution and destruction finally produced regulation. 2019 marks the 29th year the federal EPA has enacted a stormwater permitting program.

    Recent years mark the beginning of a new period in which urbanization, sealed surfaces...

    [Klaus] Philipsen FAIA
    Archplan Inc. Philipsen Architects
    Baltimore MD