The AIA announced the winners of the 2015 COTE Top Ten Green Projects today. Every year for the last 19 years, the AIA and its Committee on the Environment (COTE) choose projects for their exemplary sustainable architecture and ecological design. In addition to these annual awards, the AIA and COTE announced the winner of the COTE Top Ten Plus Award. For the last three years, a past COTE Top Ten Award winner has been reevaluated and awarded the COTE Top Ten Plus Award based on performance according to quantifiable sustainability metrics.  

This year's COTE Top Ten Awards jury included Peter Busby, LEED Fellow and managing director at Perkins+Will; David John Neuman, founder and principal of Neu Campus Planning; Peter Rumsey, founder and CEO of Point Energy Innovations and Personal Comfort Systems; John Quale, Assoc. AIA, director of the School of Architecture + Planning at the University of New Mexico; and Alex Wilson, founder of the Resilient Design Institute. 

Watch jury members discuss emerging trends from the 2015 AIA COTE Top Ten in the video below. 

For more images and information on each of the winners, please click on the links in the project titles below.

Courtesy Nic Lehoux

Jury comment:

"This building sets a new threshold for environmental design in a multi-story office building. The designers have created a demonstration that a six-story building can achieve net-zero energy with a low life-cycle impact. There is was a rigorous material assessment and careful attention to water collection and use. It is a good 'urban citizen': the building addresses the sidewalk. It invites visitors, and the project included the restoration of a public park adjacent to the building. The sustainable strategies were clearly synthesized. The interiors are inviting and warm. If a net-zero office building can be built in Seattle, one of America's cloudiest cities, then one can be built anywhere in the nation."
Diamond Schmitt
Courtesy Peter A. Sellar

Jury comment:

"We like how the different elevations address the climatic response. It is a thoughtful building, and not the typical sort that attains high performance. The interiors were very carefully resolved, with a clean, elegant, and obviously functional approach. This is probably a very economical building. There was thought put into solar control, the solar thermal space and photo-voltaic systems. The displacement ventilation system in the office and laboratory spaces saves energy and provides comfort."
SERA Architects and CO Architects
2015 COTE Top 10: Collaborative Life Sciences Building

Jury comment: 

"Despite a challenging site for a complex university facility, the designers created a building that engages not only three university clients but also a variety of patients in an inviting fashion. To focus on rigorous sustainability with multiple stakeholders is challenging without clear leadership from the design team, and it’s obvious the design leadership had to follow through on clearly identified priorities, but this project demonstrates that even a large building with a complex program can achieve high performance. This building has a remarkable 67% of its occupants able to use public transit, cycling or walking to access the site, and it houses 400 bike parking spaces. Like the other winners this year it seems to buck the trend of over-glazed large buildings. The façade thoughtfully handles solar control and daylight harvesting."

E+ // 226-232 Highland Street Townhouses
, Boston
Interface Studio Architects (ISA) and Urbanica Design

E+ Townhouses
Courtesy Sam Oberter

Jury comment:

"[The E+ project is] high-performance market-rate housing that seems to have been inspired by Passive House Standard design strategies. It is an elegantly designed, modest-scale project that fits well within the community. This net-zero project with super-insulated walls clearly pays attention to minimizing air infiltration and reducing energy usage in order to reduce the sizing of the renewables. It is done in a way that the entire photovoltaic array is nicely integrated into the architecture and does not dominate the building's look and feel. This project incorporates passive solar and solar electric systems. An example of both high performance and high style."
Overland Partners
2015 COTE Top 10: Hughes Warehouse
Dror Baldinger, AIA

Jury comment: 

"A very successful example of a creative, low-cost adaptive reuse project that maintains the integrity and the character of the building. Introduction of contemporary structural, electrical, and mechanical systems was done in such a way as to not detract from the historic elements of the building. The outside spaces were integrated well with surrounding areas as well as the building itself. This proves that making use of a high percentage of reused and repurposed materials can be done creatively and in an affordable way."
Charles Davis Smith - AIA Circulation.

Jury comment: 

"This Veterans Affairs project exhibits a strong sensibility to sustainable practice throughout its high-intensity program, comprised of in-patient beds, a national burn center and a surgical research center. The site location is dictated by the presence of a current medical complex in central Texas, which complicates attaining the energy savings that are already difficult to achieve in a major hospital. The architecture, while sympathetic to the existing complex, expands the vocabulary to be inclusive of various shading devices that promote energy savings goals while still allowing for views from and into the hospital. Natural lighting is accepted as a part of the healing process, which is important for occupants of this type of facility. The site planning and landscape complement each other as additional aspects of a healing environment. San Antonio is one of the most challenging climates in the United States for cooling and dehumidification, but this project thoughtfully and efficiently conditions the spaces for optimal comfort."

New Orleans BioInnovation Center
(NOBIC), New Orleans 


2015 COTE Top 10: New Orleans BioInnovation Center
Courtesy Will Crocker

Jury comment: 

"We like the floor plan and purpose of the building and admire the shading system. The building is simple, elegant, and beautiful. The shading system is the most striking part of the building. It also demonstrates loose fit: the entire plan was modular and the building has a variety of clients floating in and out, so the plan is loose fit in action. They have demonstrated very high levels of energy performance, especially given a very challenging climate. This is difficult to accomplish in New Orleans. The façade treatment had thoughtful and well-proportioned shading on the SW elevation."
Sweetwater Spectrum, Sonoma, CA

Architects - Leddy Maytum Stacy
Tim Griffith Sweetwater Spectrum, Sonoma, CA Architects - Leddy Maytum Stacy

Jury comment: 

"This is a thoughtfully designed and carefully detailed project. The agenda extends beyond the building to include food production on-site and a therapy pool, as well as other services for autistic adults. The emphasis on sustainable passive strategies, including 100 percent natural ventilation and cooling, is very subtle and quietly done. The landscape design of the site focuses on stormwater treatment that manages 100 percent of the site's stormwater as well as a one-acre organic garden, orchard and greenhouse that provides both food and therapeutic value. The scale of building and site landscape keeps with the scale of the surrounding area, which is important in incorporating this type of facility into a residential neighborhood that had been slated for 14 new single-family homes. The indoor and outdoor spaces are seamlessly integrated. Half of the building's power is generated by the photovoltaic system, but the 51 KW solar electric system is designed to be expanded and make the building net-zero at a later date. Solar water heating also provides 85 percent of the domestic hot water and pool heating."

Tassafaronga Village
, Oakland, Calif. 
David Baker Architects
2015 COTE Top 10: Tassafaronga Village
Courtesy Brian Rose

Jury comment: 

"This is a former industrial site that has been repurposed as an affordable housing development. There is the innovative adaptive reuse of a former pasta factory and an intentional strategy of reducing visible parking in order to prioritize a safe, semi-private shared public play space. We admired the diversity of house type and scale. This project proves that the highest levels of environmental performance can be achieved at very low budgets and still have a design agenda. This shows that high performance has entered the mainstream. The project provides a prototype for new housing in this community. This doesn't look like a public housing project. We appreciate the quality and diversity of architecture and landscape strategies. We like the simple energy efficiency coupled with the photovoltaic systems on the roof. It appears to be a true collaboration with a landscape architect."
2015 COTE Top 10: University Center - The New School
Courtesy James Ewing South facade of the University Center

Jury comment: 

"This is a successful urban building that uses manipulation of the building form to support the sustainability agenda. The integrations of daylighting into the façade and the incorporation of the primary stairway into the façade are important moves that encourage an active design strategy. Formal manipulation of the building's skin was integrated into the design process early on to help study daylight performance. The view glass and the daylight glass were thoughtfully placed in such a way to maximize their effectiveness at the lowest construction and energy costs. It is a complex client that to respond to multiple programmatic needs. These were combined into a memorable urban campus of the 21st century. It replaced a building that was poorly utilizing that location and intensified the use of a dense urban setting. Glazing was judiciously used to create a dramatic connection to the neighborhood, and to harvest daylight and create views from all of the rooms. Overall, it performs like a building with a small window-to-wall ratio, but feels like a building with a high window-to-wall ratio."

COTE Top Ten Plus Award

Federal Center South Building 1202
, Seattle
ZGF Architects

Funded by the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the new Federal Center South Building 1202 was one of the shovel-ready public works meant to provide an economic jolt to communities hard-hit by the recession.
Benjamin Benschneider/OTTO Funded by the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the new Federal Center South Building 1202 was one of the shovel-ready public works meant to provide an economic jolt to communities hard-hit by the recession.

Jury comment: 

“We admired ZGF Architects for their persistence over time to improve both their understanding of the planned performance of the building and its actual performance; they were genuinely curious about how the building was working out. There are signs of science and research in the relationship between daylighting and employee performance, along with evidence that the building has caused an enhanced environmental culture amongst its occupants.”

Read past coverage of the COTE Awards at