The AIA Committee on the Environment (COTE) has selected its 2016 Top Ten Green Project award winners. The COTE Top Ten awards program, now in its 20th year, recognizes the exemplary sustainable architecture and design with projects that enhance the environment. The program also bestows upon a single past winner its COTE Top Ten Plus Award for demonstrated impact of sustainable design based on post-occupancy performance data. Honorees will receive their awards at the 2016 AIA Convention to be held in Philadelphia in May.

Firms entering into this year's program were required to be signatories of the AIA 2030 Commitment, with submitted projects encouraged to meet the 2030 Commitment's energy reduction goals with a minimum of 60% improvement over baselines established in the 2003 Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey.

The jury for the 2016 AIA COTE Top Ten Green Projects included Larry Strain, FAIA, principal of Siegel & Strain Architects; Luke Leung, LEED Fellow, director of sustainable engineering for Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM); Judith Heerwagen, Ph.D, a program expert in the Office of Federal High Performance Green Buildings in the U.S. General Services Administration; Margaret Montgomery, FAIA, principal and sustainable design leader of NBBJ; and Anne Fougeron, FAIA, principal of Fougeron Architecture.

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. See all of the 2016 COTE Top Ten winners in ARCHITECT's Project Gallery.

Photography © Warren Jagger
Photography © Warren Jagger

Biosciences Research Building

Payette with Reddy Architecture + Urbanism
Jury Comment: The jury was unanimous in its opinion that this building really knit design and performance together. This is not an easy project type in which to incorporate passive strategies. Separating the lab portion from the non-lab allowed 45 percent of the building to be naturally ventilated. A simple building with a clever parti; labs are surrounded by daylit corridors that function as a thermal sweater for the interior spaces.

Photo Credit: Walter Tien/The Design Alliance Architects
The Design Alliance Architects Photo Credit: Walter Tien/The Design Alliance Architects

Center for Sustainable Landscapes

The Design Alliance Architects
Jury Comment: This project incorporated a number of innovative sustainable standards: piloting the sustainable SITES, the WELL building standard, and the Living Building Challenge. The project reclaimed a brownfield site and created an ecological regeneration of a blighted site, all on one of the most difficult sites on the whole campus. The building connects the inside and outside, demonstrating how to live in harmony with nature.

Photo Credit Casey Dunn
Photo Credit Casey Dunn

The Dixon Water Foundation Josey Pavilion

Lake|Flato Architects
Jury Comment: This is the perfect example of design excellence and sustainability working hand-in-hand. Elegant bioclimatic response to program and site. The vernacular forms fit the site and are appropriate to the Foundation’s mission of sustainable agriculture. We loved that the design allowed much of the program to function without conditioned interior space. We appreciated the clarity of thought, the elegance of the parti, reinforced by a simple palette of locally sourced, low-carbon materials.

Photo Credit: Bruce Damonte Photography
Bruce Damonte Photo Credit: Bruce Damonte Photography

Exploratorium at Pier 15

Jury Comment: This project capitalized on its unique location by using the surrounding San Francisco Bay for heating and cooling. The existing pier building was completely remodeled: New exhibits were carefully integrated into the building and even spill out to the surrounding bay. his interactive science museum, oriented toward children and families, was relocated to a fabulous central location on the bay with great public access and use of natural light.

image via Ray Briggs
image via Ray Briggs

H-E-B at Mueller

Lake|Flato Architects with H-E-B Design + Construction and Selser Schaefer Architects
Jury Comment: The jury was happy to see this type of program addressed. This prototype store rethought the energy and water use for a typical supermarket. The store replaced display ice with refrigerated cases, made extensive use of daylighting, and created a large entry vestibule that serves as a thermal buffer between the inside and the outdoors—important in a climate such as Texas.

Nick Merrick © Hedrich Blessing Photographers
Nick Merrick Nick Merrick © Hedrich Blessing Photographers

The J. Craig Venter Institute

ZGF Architects
Jury Comment: The jury was impressed with how this project achieved net zero for a lab. The building was well crafted from materials well suited for the marine location. Interior spaces and the courtyard incorporated daylight well. The program connected the labs and offices across an exterior courtyard.

Photo Credit © Tim Griffith
Tim Griffith Photo Credit © Tim Griffith

Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation

Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects
Jury Comment: [This is] a compact, elegant building with a clear point of view. Sustainable measures are well integrated into a holistic, high-quality design. Modest, beautifully detailed; the building really fits the context of the university.

Photo Credit © Tim Griffith
Tim Griffith Photo Credit © Tim Griffith

Rene Cazenave Apartments

Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects and Saida + Sullivan Design Partners, Associated Architect
Jury Comment: The jury recognized the complexity and difficulty in delivering high-density, transitional housing on a challenging site next to a freeway off-ramp and still making it comfortable, affordable, and well-designed. This project achieved high performance on a very small budget. Innovative, passive design strategies included bringing clean, filtered fresh air from the roof.

Photo Credit © Lara Swimmer
Lara Swimmer Photo Credit © Lara Swimmer

University of Wyoming Visual Arts Facility

Hacker with Malone Belton Able
Jury Comment: A contextually appropriate design that fits the landscape very well. The jury was impressed by the attention paid to the health and well-being of the building occupants, the way the design addressed air quality in the studios, and the way this was expressed by the ventilation stacks on the exterior. Art materials contain many toxic chemicals; this project is a model for how to do this type of facility.

Photo Credit: © David Wakely Photography
Photo Credit: © David Wakely Photography

West Branch of the Berkeley Public Library

Harley Ellis Devereaux
Jury Comment: This is a beautiful net-positive library on one of the main streets of Berkeley. The design refers back to the prototypical libraries of the 19th century: tall spaces, daylit reading rooms, and a sense of quiet and simplicity. The building skillfully incorporates passive strategies for daylighting and natural ventilation. At its core, a very simple building that creates a very successful and adaptable space.

2016 AIA COTE Top Ten +
The AIA also recognizes one past COTE Top Ten Winner every year with the COTE Top Ten Plus Award, which measures the environmental impact a past winning project has had with post-occupancy performance metrics acquired over a minimum of one year. This year, the jury selected the Edith Green–Wendell Wyatt Federal Building, win won a COTE Top Ten award in 2014. A jury comment that accompanied release of the award news praised the project for its "precedent for re-use and upgrade, and the potential for creative, green reuse projects" that it has demonstrated for other designers. The Edith Green–Wendell Wyatt Federal Building is the second consecutive COTE Top Ten Plus award given to a federal building—Federal Center South Building 1202 in Seattle, by ZGF Architects, won the honor in the 2015 COTE Awards—with the news coming days after the announcement of the Energy Policy Modernization Act, which repeals energy targets for federal buildings mandated by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

Credit: Nic Lehoux
Credit: Nic Lehoux

The Edith Green – Wendell Wyatt Federal Building

SERA Architects / Cutler Anderson Architects

Jury Comment: This project transforms a generic concrete office building into a high-performance, environmentally responsive, comfortable place to work. There are a lot of existing, low-performance buildings out there that don’t contribute much to the urban fabric. In terms of impact, these are the buildings we need to address. This sets a great precedent for re-use and upgrade, and demonstrates the potential for creative, green reuse projects.

ARCHITECT and EcoBuildingPulse caught up with the AIA COTE jury to discuss sustainable trends evident in the 2016 COTE Top Ten Green Projects:

See all of the 2016 COTE Top Ten winners in ARCHITECT's Project Gallery.