On April 19th, AIA’s Committee on the Environment (COTE) announced the COTE Top Ten Green Project Awards: their selection of the most sustainable buildings across the country. COTE advocates environmentally conscious building and focuses on educating architects and the public about green design. This year’s winners had an unprecedented focus on public utility and budgeting and there was an unusually high number of adaptive reuse projects and concentration on community ties. Watch the slideshow to learn what made the 10 winners.
Chandler City Hall in Chandler, Arizona by SmithGroupJJR
Considering the environment and Chandler citizens, the team at SmithGroupJJR focused on designing a community courtyard. The courtyard is filled with desert plants and permeable ground cover, both of which reconnect the town with its rural heritage and promote water conservation. Additionally, the west side of the building features a “Turbulent Shade:” a hinged structure with 1,800 perforated stainless steel panels to protect the building from the sun. Courtesy of Bill Timmerman.
ASU Polytechnic Academic District in Mesa, Arizona, by RSP Architects and Lake|Flato
The architect teams wanted to design ASU’s campus in a way that would reflect the surrounding desert climate. This translated to maximizing shade by grouping the new LEED Gold buildings in dense clusters and creating courtyards and arcades to maximize airflow. The teams also removed 14 acres of asphalt and concrete sidewalk and replaced it with indigenous plants, which will help alleviate solar heat gain and reestablish the native habitat. ASU hopes that this will increase the amount of pedestrians and build a community around this former commuter campus. Courtesy of Bill Timmerman.
1315 Peachtree Street in Atlanta, Georgia, by Perkins + Will
This LEED Platinum renovation of a 1986 office building is part of a larger attempt to increase the population density of downtown Atlanta by creating an attractive urban landscape. This property is also Perkins + Will’s Atlanta office, so they plan to treat the space like a laboratory—monitoring and recording data on energy use, water consumption and collection, as well as temperature, CO2, and humidity levels. The firm hopes to use this data to improve their own building strategies and contribute this information to the architecture and design community.
Iowa Utilities Board Office of Consumer Advocate Office Building in Des Moines, Iowa, by BNIM
The two main challenges at this site were prairie restoration and water management. The building is located on a former landfill constantly damaged by flooding and storms. Enriching the landscape with native plants helped purify the water and eliminate the need for irrigation. To insulate the building from Iowa’s extreme temperatures, BNIM used Thermomass precast concrete to create a protective envelope. Courtesy of Assassi.
Mercy Corps in Portland, Oregon, by THA Architecture
In an attempt to actualize the Mercy Corps mission as a nonprofit, community-minded organization via an architectural format, the design team focused on revitalizing the existing historic building and opening the structure up to the city. The interior of the building was left open to promote Mercy Corps’s sense of egalitarianism and collaboration. The exterior of the building boasts an urban park where a farmer’s market is held every weekend. Courtesy of Jeff Amram.
Kensington High School for the Creative and Performing Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by SMP Architects in collaboration with SRK Architects
The design team was challenged to create a small high school that would help students from low-income families succeed. They focused on keeping the floor plan inviting and transparent to give students views of green roofs and artwork, and choosing a site near public transportation so it would be easily accessible. Since the building's completion in 2010, student truancy dropped from 35 percent to 0 percent, test scores quadrupled, and the graduation rate increased from 29 percent to 69 percent. Courtesy of Barry Halkin.
Music and Science Building in Hood River, Oregon, by Opsis Architecture
Working with the main building (a National Historic Landmark), Opsis Architecture turned the new structures into a “living laboratory” for middle school students to explore. The team made the building’s inner machinery easily accessible and labeled each piece so they could be used as educational tools. The designers added a greenhouse, which utilizes recycled water, and the school started an onsite farmer’s market to sell student-grown fruits and vegetables. Courtesy of Opsis Architecture.
Portland Community College (PCC) Newberg Center in Newberg, Oregon, by Hennebery Eddy Architects
The first zero-net-energy higher-education building in Oregon, this center houses classrooms, administrative offices, and common areas for students and faculty. To become zero-net-energy, the architects took advantage of the placid northwestern climate and focused on passive strategies such as orienting the building along an east–west axis. Courtesy of Stephen Miller.
University Classroom Building; Duluth, Minnesota
Architect David Salmela relied on plant coverage to help maintain the strict standards of a German Passivhaus design system. Passivhaus, which utilizes a thick envelope created by insulated walls and roof and triple-glazed windows is a highly effective way to structure ultra-low energy systems. Salmela added a living roof, planted with butterfly-attracting vegetation, and surrounding tree covers to shade the building. Courtesy of Paul Crosby.
University of California, Merced Long Range Development Plan in Merced, California
Ambitiously setting a goal for daylight access in 75 percent of the interior rooms (quite a feat for a large university building) is just the beginning for UC Merced’s long-range plan. By 2020, UC Merced plans to be the first zero-net-energy, zero-net-waste and zero-net-emissions campus in the USA. It will also help to preserve the surrounding 30,000 acres of vernal pool grasslands, the largest concentration of vernal pool grasslands in the world.