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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To learn about the Framework for Design Excellence (formerly the COTE Top Ten Measures), click here.

Check out COTE's history and timeline. 

Starting a local COTE or sustainability group and need some guidance? Check out the AIA COTE Network Resources here.

A big thank you to our 2024 sponsors: 
Founding sponsors: Building Green
Premier sponsors: Sherwin-Williams, Stantec
Sustaining sponsors: GAF Roofing, Milliken, Andersen Windows,
BlueScope Buildings
Green sponsors: EPIC Metals
Allied sponsors: TLC Engineering, Sierra Pacific Windows

The Re-Discovery of the Outdoors

  • 1.  The Re-Discovery of the Outdoors

    Posted 09-07-2023 09:56 AM

    The Re-Discovery of the Outdoors 

    "There is mounting evidence, from dozens and dozens of researchers, that nature has benefits for both physical and psychological human well­being," Lisa Nisbet, PhD, psychologist at Trent University in Ontario, Canada, 

    The run on parks

    It was just a few minutes past ten on a beautiful Sunday morning this spring, but the parking lot at the Patapsco State Park trailhead on Hilltop Road was already full. Only with difficulty could I squeeze my smallish car in at the very end of the lot, my only chance since the State Park police has posted large signs on Hilltop road that threatened $250 tickets for overflow parking along the road. For no good reason, I thought, who wants to deter people from hiking? Turns out, Maryland's park rangers restrict parking to avoid that parks get overburdened. Just a few years back, there was never a problem with parking or overburdening, but then came COVID and park visitations exploded. 

    The great outdoors: Les Laurentides, Quebec
    Photo: Philipsen

    Turns out that when everyone was locked up in some kind of isolation, the outdoors became the place to be. That was a good thing, given how much being out in nature apparently....

    Can the increased outdoor activity be maintained even after Covid subsides? Can a part of the outdoor adverse be converted to become outdoor users? Can outdoor participation become more diverse? Can our open spaces accommodate the increased demand and most importantly, do disadvantaged communities who need open space the most, have sufficient space and have they access to it?


    [Klaus] Philipsen FAIA
    Archplan Inc. Philipsen Architects
    Baltimore MD
    AIA / ACSA Intersections Research Conference. Call for submissions exploring new housing paradigms. Due September 4, click here to learn more.