The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and its Committee on the Environment (COTE) have selected the top ten examples of sustainable architecture and green design solutions. Now in its 16th year, the COTE Top Ten Green Projects program is one of the profession’s best known recognition program for sustainable design excellence. The highlighted projects are the result of a thoroughly integrated approach to architecture, natural systems and technology. They have made a positive contribution to their communities, improved comfort for building occupants and reduced 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. All the projects will be honored at the AIA 2012 National Convention and Design Exposition, next month in Washington, D.C. Continue after the break to review the top ten green projects.
This project is a civic-focused adaptive reuse of a 1986 office structure transformed into a living laboratory and educational tool for sustainable design. Rainwater from the roof and the 5th floor terrace is captured and stored in an underground cistern which is then filtered, treated with ultraviolet light, then pumped to all flush fixtures in the building. Solar studies and energy modeling informed design decisions regarding daylighting, glazing replacement, glazing materials and shading systems. Pervious paving was replaced by permeable paving and landscaping to help recharge the region’s aquifer.
The design for the Arizona State University Polytechnic Academic District transformed a decommissioned airbase into an inviting pedestrian campus that includes five high-performance LEED Gold rated buildings. The design for the new campus creates a new identity that responds to its desert climate and context by using a dense network of linear buildings that maximizes shade and creates a vibrant pedestrian environment. The building typology grew from the same objective by extroverting the circulation which also served to minimize the air-conditioned square footage and electricity for lighting.
Chandler City Hall / SmithGroupJJR Chandler, Arizona
This project is a low to mid-rise government complex that responds to the harsh desert climate and at the same time provides for appropriate outdoor spaces that introduced much needed green space. The building takes a comprehensive approach to reducing potable water use by employing interior and exterior strategies. Passive shading strategies along with a high performance glazing were utilized to knock out as much of the solar heat gain as possible. This allowed mechanical systems to be appropriately sized and varied depending on building function.
Iowa Utilities Board Office of Consumer Advocate Office Building / BNIM Des Moines
This project is an infill development on the 6-acre site of a former landfill. The project captures and infiltrates 100% of the stormwater from the average annual rainfall event and diverts stormwater from 6-acres of adjacent streets for on-site treatment. Thermal mass captures “free heating”, modulates temperatures and, thus, reduces loads. A year after opening, the project is performing at 68% energy savings beyond the energy code baseline (ASHRAE 90.1-2004). The geothermal well field uses the earth’s constant temperature to offset heating and cooling loads. High performance glass is tuned to the characteristics of each elevation’s exposures. Over 95% of the regularly occupied spaces in the building have daylight.
Mercy Corps Global Headquarters / THA Architecture Portland, Oregon
This project is comprised of the restoration of a 42,000 square foot neglected historical landmark. The project includes a 3,800 square foot green roof, which not only filters water and slows stormwater discharge but contributes to better air quality in this area of the downtown. Potable water use was reduced by 40% by installing water saving plumbing fixtures such as low-flow faucets and dual-flush toilets. Landscape plants are xeriscaped to eliminate the need for irrigation water, resulting in a more than 50% reduction of potable water consumption for irrigation. On-site paving is pervious to encourage direct ground infiltration during rainfall.
Kensington High School for the Creative and Performing Arts / SMP Architects (in collaboration w/ SRK Architects) Philadelphia
The design team concentrated on making this project as transparent and inviting as possible. Since completion truancy has dropped from 35% to 0%, tests scores have quadrupled and graduation has gone from 29% to 69% – in one year. The faculty has embraced many of the visible sustainability features and used them as teaching tool for students. A high percentage of recycled and rapidly renewable materials were incorporated into the project design and construction waste management achieved 82%. The Design Team put special emphasis on orienting classrooms for optimal daylighting, reducing artificial lighting and HVAC loads.
Music and Science Building / Opsis Architecture Hood River, Oregon
The goal of this project was to create a public building that truly fuses sustainable design with sustainability curriculum, and carefully integrate the facility into the existing National Historic Landmark site. The project team worked closely with the school’s teachers to include and enhance building components that will be incorporated into the curriculum. From the science classroom, the students have access to the heart of the building’s geothermal and water system, the pump room, labeled and metered specifically to be used for classroom demonstration and instruction.
Portland Community College (PCC) Newberg Center / Hennebery Eddy Architects Newberg, Oregon
Designed to be the first net zero energy, higher education building in Oregon, this project supports PCC’s sustainable mission to reduce green house gas emissions by 80% by 2050. Overall water use was reduced by 49.2% through the use of low-flow faucets and toilets. A weather-based irrigation system controller, drip irrigation and high efficiency spray heads reduced irrigation water use by more than 50%. Stretched out along the east-west axis, the design maximizes the north and south building exposures. Taking advantage of the Pacific Northwest’s climate, the building incorporates natural ventilation and passive cooling articulated by the ventilation stacks that organize the circulation spine.
University of Minnesota Duluth – Bagley Classroom Building / Salmela Architect Duluth, Minnesota
Serving eight different departments, this project incorporated the German Passiv Haus system in the design process to meet all the performance goals set forth by the client. Educational and pedagogical innovations were paramount throughout the design, construction and operation of the building. The vegetative roof provides additional habitat, the chives and flowering sedum attract butterflies and bees. It also keeps the building and surrounding area cool. Building orientation eliminates artificial cooling and the building is cooled by shading with existing tree cover in the summer towards the South as well as shading devices designed for the building.
University of California, Merced 2009 Long Range Development Plan / UC Merced Merced, California
This projects approach embraces economic, social and environmental sustainability in all aspects of its built environment, operations and approach to programming. The plan’s design standards include daylighting in 75% of interior spaces. The building includes energy efficient lighting, daylighting controls, and carbon dioxide sensors that adjust airflow depending on occupancy. Under the plan’s zero net energy approach, the campus generates as much electricity as it uses through a portfolio of solar, wind, waste to energy and energy efficiencies. To design for longevity, spaces and building shells are oriented for flexible re-use wherever possible.
The 2012 COTE Top Ten Green Projects jury: Clark S. Brockman, AIA, SERA Architects, Inc. Steve L. Dumez, FAIA, Eskew+Dumez+Ripple Architects Scott Shell, FAIA, EHDD Architecture Laura Lee, FAIA, Carnegie Mellon University Paul Schwer, PAE Consulting Engineers Sue Barnett, Sue Barnett Sustainable Design All images and project descriptions provided by the AIA.