The AIA Committee on the Environment (COTE) has selected its 2017 Top Ten Green Project award winners. Each year, the COTE Top Ten awards program, now in its 21st year, recognizes exemplary sustainable architecture and design with projects that enhance the environment. The program also bestows the COTE Top Ten Plus Award to one project based on post-occupancy data that demonstrates its environmental impact because of its sustainable design. Honorees will receive their awards at the 2017 AIA Convention in Orlando, Fla., later this month.

To be considered for this year's award program, firms were required to be signatories of the AIA 2030 Commitment—a global initiative for every project designed by a signatory firm to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030—with submitted projects encouraged to meet the 2030 Commitment's energy reduction goals with a minimum of 70 percent improvement over baselines established in the 2003 Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey.

The jury for the 2016 AIA COTE Top Ten Green Projects included Annie Chu, FAIA, of Los Angeles–based Chu + Gooding Architects; Steve Kieran, FAIA, of Philadelphia–based Kieran Timberlake; David Lake, FAIA, of San Antonio–based Lake Flato Architects; Texas Bungane Mehlomakulu, of Austin–based Integral Group; and Amanda Sturgeon, FAIA, of the Living Future Institute in Seattle.

2017 COTE Awards: Trends & Jury Commentary

For jury comments and a breakdown of sustainable measures for each of the 10 winning projects, please click on the project name below, or skip directly to the COTE Top Ten Plus Winner. And you can see all of the 2017 COTE Top Ten winners in ARCHITECT's Project Gallery.

Bristol Community College John J. Sbrega Health and Science Building - Fall River, Mass.
Edward Caruso Bristol Community College John J. Sbrega Health and Science Building - Fall River, Mass.

Bristol Community College John J. Sbrega Health and Science Building by Sasaki

Jury Comment: This project was able to achieve net-zero energy in a project type that typically does not achieve this level of performance. This a community college science building containing teaching labs with specialized ventilation needs. In achieving net-zero energy, this project saved a significant amount of money compared to a regular building, providing a model for others to replicate. The project's design maximized a holistic range of energy reduction strategies, including a high-performance envelope, daylighting, and innovative ventilation strategies.


Chatham University Eden Hall Campus - Richland Township, Pa.
Bruce Damonte Chatham University Eden Hall Campus - Richland Township, Pa.

Chatham University Eden Hall Campus by Mithun

Jury Comment: Exemplary in its integrated water management and treatment systems, this project is an ambitious vision for a new sustainable campus. The design established aggressive energy thresholds for each of the buildings and integrated sustainable principles into a way of campus life. All wastewater is filtered on site in wetlands via treatment systems that also offer research and learning opportunities. All campus facilities, including plant buildings, are designed for use as classrooms. Both the spaces between buildings and the structures are put into service, fulfilling the mission of the curriculum for an education founded on sustainable principles and environmental stewardship.

Discovery Elementary School - Arlington, Va.
Alan Karchmer Discovery Elementary School - Arlington, Va.

Discovery Elementary School by VMDO Architects

Jury Comment: This project sets a new standard for public schools to achieve net-zero energy in a challenging climate and makes excellent design decisions that reduce energy through daylighting and site integration. The building section responds to the slope of the site and provides views and connection to the outside for all classrooms. In addition to being one of the few net-zero energy schools in the United States, the project also demonstrated rainwater harvesting and rain gardens while making significant water savings. This project gives students the opportunity to enjoy hands-on learning around energy efficiency and generation.


Manhattan Districts 1/2/5 Garage & Spring Street Salt Shed - New York, N.Y.
Dattner Architects Manhattan Districts 1/2/5 Garage & Spring Street Salt Shed - New York, N.Y.

Manhattan Districts 1/2/5 Garage & Spring Street Salt Shed by Dattner Architects

Jury Comment: The project achieves two extraordinary feats: It raises the bar for a municipal sanitation building to the status of an excellent civic structure in the heart of the city, and it also evidences extraordinary skill in changing a structure initially perceived as negative into a welcomed presence. The green roof participates as a building system by providing a habitat and food for migratory birds, capturing 100 percent of rainwater and improving views for neighboring buildings. Graywater is used as a source for flushing restroom fixtures and truck washing. Attention to its civic responsibility is shown in the cost-effective paint color palette, which creates a polychrome façade at night. The Salt Shed is an unexpected sculptural element, creating visual interest in an industrial context and demonstrating investment in an underserved neighborhood.


George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health - Washington, D.C.
Robert Benson George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health - Washington, D.C.

Milken Institute School of Public Health by Payette and Ayers Saint Gross

Jury Comment: As an urban scale project in the District of Columbia, this project focused on addressing stormwater on-site through a green roof and rainwater collection, achieving LEED Platinum certification. An innovative atrium design brings daylight into all floors of the building, which has a complex mix of labs and meeting/office spaces, encourages connections, and offers views.


Ng Teng Fong General Hospital - Singapore
Ng Teng Fong General Hospital - Singapore

Ng Teng Fong General Hospital & Jurong Community Hospital by HOK

Jury Comment: This project is an extraordinary model for hospitals to behave as healing environments, something not often seen in the United States. In a tropical climate, 82 percent of the patient beds are primarily passively cooled and naturally ventilated. The reliance on passive strategies provides significant energy reductions and also connection to daylight and views. Conversion of graywater to potable water is part of a municipal initiative that the hospital benefits from. The single biggest reduction of water consumption was the elimination of cooling load for the naturally ventilated patient wards. The passive strategies demonstrated here are a model for hospitals around the world.


NOAA Daniel K. Inouye Regional Center - Honolulu, Hawaii
Alan Karchmer Photography NOAA Daniel K. Inouye Regional Center - Honolulu, Hawaii

NOAA Daniel K. Inouye Regional Center by HOK

Jury Comment: This project transformed a historic Albert Kahn industrial building into a new research building with a laboratory-focused occupancy. The building achieves significant energy reduction through an innovative passive downdraft system, providing 100 percent natural ventilation and excellent daylighting. The project rejuvenated the site through the creation of a new waterfront public space. The building is designed to resist a 500-year storm event, and the flexible space can be used for critical response in the event of a natural disaster.


R.W. Kern Center - Amherst, Mass.
Bruner/Cott & Associates R.W. Kern Center - Amherst, Mass.

R.W. Kern Center

by Burner/Cott & Associates

Jury Comment: The R.W. Kern Center at Hampshire College is designed to meet the Living Building Challenge; it achieves net-zero energy and water and was built without red list products. A collaborative and integrated team approach resulted in this being one of the highest performing projects in the country, with a ripple effect across other higher education campuses in the Northeast. Its "campus portal" creates a new front door for Hampshire College that welcomes current and prospective students and expresses the mission of the college through the design and performance of the building. The building skillfully makes sustainability strategies like graywater treatment evident as an educational opportunity for students and further catalyzes a growing movement toward living buildings.


Stanford University Central Energy Facility - Stanford, Calif.
Matthew G. Anderson Stanford University Central Energy Facility - Stanford, Calif.

Stanford University Central Energy Facility by ZGF Architects

Jury Comment: This project fulfills a carbon-neutral strategy for Stanford and houses a central plant and facilities building. The facility demonstrates a long-range climate and energy plan in action. It transforms what would be a typical unappreciated energy plant into a classroom and a moment of architectural joy. A naturally ventilated, daylit work environment is provided for facilities staff who would normally be in a windowless basement. It sets a high bar for a university to provide national environmental leadership and design excellence.


2017 AIA COTE Top Ten +


Each year since 2014, the AIA has recognized one previous COTE Top Ten winner with the COTE Top Ten Plus Award, which measures the environmental impact that the project has had through post-occupancy performance metrics acquired over a minimum of one year. In the past, all Top Ten recipients have been invited to submit post-occupancy data and narratives to be recognized by a single COTE Top Ten Plus winner, but this year these separate tracks have been merged: The "Plus" designation will now denote projects that have exemplary performance data to show and post-occupancy lessons to give, and the project does not have to be a previous Top Ten winner.

Brock Environmental Center - Virginia Beach, Va.
Prakash Patel Brock Environmental Center - Virginia Beach, Va.

Brock Environmental Center by SmithGroupJJR
The Brock Environmental Center is the 2017 recipient of the AIA COTE Top Ten Plus award for exceptional post occupancy performance, and it has not received a COTE Top Ten award in the past.

Jury Comment: The Brock Environmental Center is "one of only a dozen projects to be certified to the Living Building Challenge, achieving net-positive water, waste, and energy while addressing health, material, and equity. It also achieved LEED Platinum certification. The building design was inspired by a biophilic design response to the site on Chesapeake Bay, providing a resilient design approach by raising the building to respond to future storm surges. This project broke new ground by becoming the first project in its state to gain approval for potable use of rainwater. Design for wellness is exemplary through avoidance of red list ingredients in materials, along with natural ventilation, daylight, and views. The team undertook a thorough post-occupancy evaluation that informed changes and then created a process to communicate lessons learned."

From the AIA: The Brock Environmental Center is a hub for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Hampton Roads office, supporting their education, advocacy, and restoration initiatives. The Center is designed to express CBF’s mission of collaboration to protect one of the nation’s most valuable and threatened natural resources—the Chesapeake Bay. CBF aspired to manifest true sustainability, creating a landmark that transcends notions of “doing less harm” towards a reality where architecture can create a positive, regenerative impact on both the environment and society. The Center surpasses LEED achieving zero-net-CO2 emissions, zero waste, and Living Building Challenge certification from the International Living Future Institute.