If you want to see how cutting-edge building design can lead to lower energy use and costs, look at these award-winning sustainable projects

by Brianna Crandall — May 10, 2019 — The American Institute of Architects (AIA) recently announced this year’s recipients of the COTE Top Ten Awards, as well as the 2019 Education Facility Design Awards and the 2019 AIA/ALA Library Building Awards.

COTE Top Ten Awards

AIA’s Committee on the Environment (COTE) bestows its highest honor annually on 10 design projects that have expertly integrated sustainable building design excellence with cutting-edge performance in several key areas. In order to be eligible, project submissions are required to demonstrate alignment with COTE’s rigorous criteria for 10 measures that include social, economic, and ecological values. The five-member jury evaluates each project submission based on a cross-section of the 10 metrics balanced with the holistic approach to the design.

Facade of science center

The award-winning Amherst College Science Center features cooling panels integrated into wave monitors that provide radiant connective cooling to the space below. Image courtesy Solar Design Associates

Completed new buildings, renovations, restorations, interior architecture, and urban/regional plans are eligible, and projects may be located anywhere in the world.

This year’s COTE Top Ten Awards recipients are as follows, with a sampling of their high-performance, sustainable features:

  • Amherst College Science Center, Amherst, MA | Payette — cooling panels integrated into wave monitors provide radiant connective cooling to the space below; acoustical sound-absorbing panel controls the noise levels; photovoltaic (PV) panel captures solar energy; skylight diffuses North-facing natural light into the Commons
  • Asilong Christian High School, Asilong, West Pokot, Kenya | BNIM — zero net energy; zero net water; emphasis on regional materials and local labor; buildings designed for flexible use; rainwater harvesting; composting toilets; shaded areas to acknowledge extreme climate and add overflow space
  • Daniels Building at One Spadina Crescent, The University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada | NADAAA with Adamson Associates and ERA Architects — historic educational structure redesigned for changing future needs; solar-ready roof; emergency back-up systems include a generator capable of powering lighting, elevators, air conditioning in select IT rooms, and other critical electrical services
  • Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex, Northeastern University, Boston, MA | Payette — parametric design and energy modeling; leverages passive elements to reduce energy demand and employs high-tech energy recovery systems to further reduce energy use; daylight-filled atrium that acts as a mixing chamber for a cascade air system to recycle air throughout the building
  • Lakeside Senior Apartments, Oakland, CA | David Baker Architects — below-grade parking garage; tight building envelope and massing articulation that responds to orientation; efficient, cost-effective equipment that needs minimal maintenance and takes advantage of heat recovery and solar energy to reduce loads (e.g., heat recovery ventilators in units); CFL and LED lighting
  • North Transfer Station, Seattle, WA | Mahlum Architects —for surrounding community, rooftops are clear of mechanical equipment, supporting PV arrays and greenery instead; angled sound wall maintains noise levels; ultra-quiet, airtight, and quick up-down doors control both odors and noise; misting on the tipping floor keeps dust and odors to a minimum
  • Oregon Zoo Education Center, Portland, OR | Opsis Architecture — LEED Platinum; sustainable elements including solar panels, native plants, bird-safe windows and rain gardens educate the public; interconnected system of rain gardens and planters slows the flow of rainwater, and the plants and soil filter out dirt, oil, and pollutants while providing habitat for small creatures
  • St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York, NY | Murphy Burnham & Buttrick Architects — historic renovation achieved 29% reduction in annual energy use, stabilized significant historic fabric with 5 million+ annual visitors; 1960s-era mechanical equipment replaced, update-ready; optimized daylighting, thermal comfort; new glass entry doors cut outdoor noise by 75%, reduce drafts, infiltration of pollutants
  • Tashjian Bee and Pollinator Discovery Center, University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum | MSR Design — heated and cooled floor slab; operable windows oriented for daylighting and natural ventilation; geothermal field; superinsulated walls (R52) and roof (R72), triple-pane double low-e glazing, and a continuous air barrier dramatically reduce heat loss and gain through building skin

Jurors also designated one project as a Top Ten Plus recipient for its exceptional post-occupancy performance data. This year’s recipient is:

  • Frick Environmental Center, Pittsburgh | Bohlin Cywinski Jackson — LEED Platinum and Living Building-certified; 100% of surrounding site restored with native plant life; ample daylight, outside views, and access to fresh air; indoor/outdoor spaces and operable windows enable and encourage staff and visitors to engage with nature; floor sub heating; geothermal  wells

Award recipients will be honored in June at the AIA Conference on Architecture 2019 in Las Vegas.

Visit AIA’s website for more information on the COTE Top Ten Awards program, with additional details on the Call for Entries page, and complete details for each winning project of the 2019 awards.

Education Facility Design Awards

In addition, AIA’s Committee on Architecture for Education (CAE) recognized nine projects for state-of-the-art designs of schools and learning centers, with the 2019 Education Facility Design Awards.

Winning designs must meet a host of criteria including enhancing learning in classrooms; balancing function with aesthetics; establishing a connection with the environment; being respectful of the surrounding community; demonstrating high-level planning in the design process; and integrating sustainability in a holistic fashion. Complete details for each project are available on AIA’s website.

AIA/ALA Library Building Awards

And AIA partnered with the American Library Association (ALA) to honor six libraries with the 2019 AIA/ALA Library Building Awards for excellence in architectural design.

With the traditional roles of libraries evolving, today’s libraries are designed with larger gathering spaces to support the needs of the community, and many include sustainable features to conserve water or energy. Both of these trends are reflected by this year’s award recipients. Complete details for each project are available on AIA’s website.