The Committee on the Environment (COTE) at the American Institute of Architects (AIA) selected their list of the best examples of sustainable building design this year. According to AIA, the awards program, now in its 15th year, celebrates “projects that are the result of a thoroughly integrated approach to architecture, natural systems and technology.” In addition, winning green buildings make a “positive contribution to their communities, improve comfort for building occupants and reduce environmental impacts through strategies such as reuse of existing structures, connection to transit systems, low-impact and regenerative site development, energy and water conservation, use of sustainable or renewable construction materials, and design that improves indoor air quality.”
Many of the winners optimize daylight, reduce or eliminate the use of toxic materials, feature high percentages of recycled materials, enable owners more control over energy and water usage, and offer energy and water efficiency measures, including green roofs and high performance landscape architecture. A few buildings use passive design techniques. Many were also certified at the LEED Platinum or Gold levels.
Cherokee Studios, Los Angeles
BROOKS + SCARPA (formerly Pugh + Scarpa)
“The design maximizes the opportunities of the mild, Southern California climate with a passive cooling strategy. Together with high-efficiency LED and electric lighting, photo and occupancy sensors, and natural daylighting – energy use was minimized. 100% of the total regularly occupied building area is day lit and can be ventilated with operable windows. A combination of cool roof covered in solar panels, green roof, and blown-in cellulose insulation complete an efficient building shell exceeding California Title 24 by 47%.”
First Unitarian Society Meeting House, Madison, WI
The Kubala Washatko Architects, Inc.
“The 20,000-square-foot addition to the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed national historic landmark Meeting House is approximately 40% more efficient than a comparable base case facility. The addition nearly doubles the building footprint but a vegetated roof and a reduction in parking spaces actually increases the percentage of pervious vegetated surface on the property.”
Susanne Payne, ASLA, Ken Saiki Design, was the landscape architect for the project.
Kiowa County K-12 Schools, Greensburg, KS
“The site and building design reduce the urban heat island effect on Greensburg through open area allocation and diverse landscaping. A 50-kilowatt wind turbine provides a portion of the electricity needs while the remaining power is generated at the wind farm located outside of town.”
Jim Schuessler, ASLA, BNIM, was the landscape architect for the project.
High Tech High Chula Vista, Chula Vista, CA
Studio E Architects
“This public charter school serving 550 students in grades 9-12 with an approach rooted in project-based learning uses a building management system which integrates a weather station, and monitors and controls the lighting and mechanical systems of the facilities, in addition to the irrigation and domestic water systems.”
Michael Vail, ASLA, Ivy Landscape Architects, was the landscape architect for the project.
LIVESTRONG Foundation, Austin, TX
“The adaptive reuse of a 1950’s built warehouse transformed the concrete tilt-wall building to provide a multi-functional office space for the staff of 62. 88% of the materials from the demolition of the dilapidated warehouse were recycled and used in the new design. In order to allow for the most engaging open office environment, the team replaced the roof’s center bays with north facing clerestory windows that harvest ample diffused daylight for the core workspace.”
Christine Ten Eyck, FASLA, Ten Eyck Landscape Architects, was the landscape architect for the project.
LOTT Clean Water Alliance, Olympia, WA
The Miller | Hull Partnership
“While most sewage treatment plants are invisible to their communities and separated by a chain link fence, the LOTT Clean Water Alliance Regional Service Center is a visible and active participant in the public life of Olympia. Different strategies were utilized to control solar heat gain, improve the energy performance of the building, and introduce daylight and provide views.”
Scott Murase, Affiliate ASLA, Murase Associates, was the landscape architect.
OS House, Racine, WI
Johnsen Schmaling Architects
“The local climate, with its very cold winters and hot, humid summers, required a careful mix of active and passive design strategies to ensure proper interior conditioning. Taking advantage of the lake breeze and the site’s solar exposure, outdoor rooms were created to reduce the house’s depth, allowing for maximum natural cross-ventilation and daylight to wash the inside.”
Dan Riesdorf, Milaeger’s Landscape Design, was the landscape architect on the project.
Research Support Facility (RSF) at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Golden, CO
“With the goal of creating the largest commercial net-zero energy structure in the country, the building is meant to serve as a blueprint for a net-zero energy future and influence others in the building industry to pursue low energy and net-zero energy performance. NREL and Department of Energy’s goal is to transform innovative research in renewable energy and energy efficiency into market-viable technologies and practices. Many of the integrated passive design strategies such as daylighting and natural ventilation strongly support both energy and human performance. An open office plan resulted in a higher density workplace reducing the building footprint per person.”
Landscape architecture by Marc Stutzman, ASLA, RNL Design.
Step Up on 5th, Santa Monica, CA
BROOKS + SCARPA (formerly Pugh + Scarpa)
“This mixed-use project provides 46 studio apartments of permanent affordable housing and supportive services for the homeless and mentally disabled population in the heart of downtown Santa Monica. The density of the project is 258 dwelling units/acre, which exceeds the average density of the Manhattan borough of New York City by more than 10%.”
Vancouver Convention Centre West, Vancouver, British Columbia
Design Architect: LMN Architects, Prime Architects: DA/MCM
“As the world’s first LEED Platinum convention center, this project is designed to bring together the complex ecology, vibrant local culture and urban environment, embellishing their inter-relationships through architectural form and materiality. The living roof, at 6 acres it is the largest in Canada, hosts some 400,000 indigenous plants. Free cooling economizers provide cooling for most of the busy seasons for the convention centre.”
Landscape architecture by PWL Partnership.
Explore the winning projects to learn more about the sustainable landscape approaches used.
Image credit: LOTT Clean Water Alliance / Nic Lehoux