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.

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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. 

A big thank you to our partners: 
Founding partner: Building Green
Premier partners: Kingspan, Sherwin-Williams
Sustaining partners: GAF Roofing, KawneerLucifer Lighting Company, ROCKWOOL
Green partners: AutodeskEPIC MetalsHKSThornton Tomasetti, Skanska
Allied partners: TLC Engineering

GAF x COTE: Looking at the Future

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

When Weather Becomes a Design Challenge

  • 1.  When Weather Becomes a Design Challenge

    Posted 09-27-2021 09:53 AM

    When a building floods or is torn apart by a hurricane or consumed by fire, or rendered almost useless by weeks without electric power, it used to be "force major" or "an act of god". Unfortunate but rare. But with rare becoming common the damages to the built environment reach new heights every year. It isn't no longer enough to point to the higher powers.

    Louisiana devastation after hurricane Ida 2021.

    The question is now: What can we do to make our buildings, towns, cities and our infrastructure withstand the new type of destructive weather? As the politicians say, climate change is no longer a future threat, it is already here. 

    Where we stand

    Climate change has become everybody's topic, but just like the still raging pandemic, the public understanding of what is going on doesn't match the problem. Which has to do that perspective is needed that exceeds the  four year horizon of politicians multiple times, not to mention the Friday to Friday outlook which guides most of us. The worse things get, the more people follow the recipe of taking it "one day at a time".  

    For example this year's COP 26 climate conference in November in Glasgow is organized by the COP Bureau of the UNFCCC. What? That whatever will be decided there won't have any effect until 30 years doesn't raise the event's popularity no more than its catchy nomenclature. The path seems long and stony as this language from the event website hints

    The meeting comprises the twenty-sixth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 26), the sixteenth session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 16), and the third session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA 3). It will be held at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) in Glasgow, United Kingdom, from 31 October to 12 November 2021. (website)

     A recent study by the University of Southern California shows, that the general public knows rather little....

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