The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Committee on the Environment (COTE) have selected this year’s recipients of the Top Ten Awards, the industry’s program celebrating sustainable design excellence. Now in their 21st year, the Top Ten Awards highlight projects that exemplify the integration of design and performance. Submissions are required to demonstrate how the project aligns with COTE’s criteria for social, economic, and ecological value. This year’s recipients will be honored at the 2017 AIA Conference on Architecture in Orlando.
In a recent statement, the AIA urged policymakers to keep carbon neutral goals for the built environment. View the full statement here.
New for 2017
For this year, COTE revised its Measures of Sustainable Design, the criteria judges use to evaluate projects. Topics include impact on health, wellness, and economy. In past years, criteria was based largely on predicted performance, not actual performance as measured after occupying the buildings. Since 2014, past Top Ten recipients have been invited to submit post-occupancy data and narratives to be recognized with a single COTE Top Ten Plus award each year. In 2017, these separate tracks are merged: The ‘Plus’ designation will denote projects with exemplary performance data and post occupancy lessons. Learn more about these changes here.
The descriptions below give a brief summary of the projects. You can learn more about these projects by clicking on the name of the project/firm name.
Bristol Community College John J. Sbrega Health and Science Building; Fall River, Mass., Sasaki
Bristol set goals of making its science building not only inviting, but also a model of sustainability. The 50,000-square-foot building sets the standard as the first ZNE academic science building in the Northeast. Providing hands-on learning opportunities and care to underserved populations, its program accommodates instructional labs and support space for field biology, biotech, microbiology, and chemistry; nursing simulation labs; clinical laboratory science and medical assisting labs; dental hygiene labs; and a teaching clinic. Taking a holistic approach to the design and construction of the Sbrega Health and Science Building, the team uncovered ways to eliminate the use of fossil fuels, increase efficiency, and reduce demand.
Brock Environmental Center; Virginia Beach, Va., SmithGroupJJR
Top Ten Plus honor for post-occupancy performance
The Brock Environmental Center is a hub for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Hampton Roads office, supporting their education, advocacy and restoration initiatives. The Center is designed to express CBF’s mission of collaboration to protect one of the nation’s threatened natural resources, the Chesapeake Bay. CBF aspired to manifest sustainability, creating a landmark that transcends notions of “doing less harm” towards a reality where architecture can create a regenerative impact on both the environment and society. The Center surpasses LEED achieving zero-net-CO2 emissions, zero waste, and Living Building Challenge certification from the International Living Future Institute.
Chatham University Eden Hall Campus; Richland Township, Pa., Mithun
After receiving the donation of 388-acre Eden Hall Farm north of Pittsburgh, Chatham University conceived a goal to create a net-positive campus. Home of the Falk School of Sustainability, Eden Hall Campus generates more energy than it uses, is a water resource, produces food, recycles nutrients, and supports habitat and healthy soils while developing the next generation of environmental stewards. Linked buildings, landscapes and infrastructure support a research environment. New building forms, outdoor gathering spaces and integrated artwork complement and interpret natural site systems, while making sustainable strategies transparent.
Discovery Elementary School, Arlington Public Schools; Arlington, Va., VMDO Architects
Discovery Elementary School is a zero-energy school in the US. The challenge was to integrate a 98,000 SF building into a residential neighborhood while keeping the entire PV array on the roof. By terracing the mass into a south facing hill, the project met local goals for scale, community goals for preservation of flat, open space for recreation, and global goals for orientation for solar generation. Discovery offers an example of a solution to the global crisis of climate change, and along the way emboldens students with the expectation that they are participants in those solutions.
Manhattan Districts 1/2/5 Garage & Spring Street Salt Shed; New York City, Dattner Architects and WXY architecture + urban design
The Garage and Salt Shed celebrate the role of civic infrastructure by integrating architectural design with sustainability and a sensitivity to the urban context. The building is wrapped in a custom perforated double-skin façade that reduces solar gain while allowing daylight and views in personnel areas. The 1.5 acre green roof reduces heat-island effect, promotes biodiversity, and filters waste steam condensate and rainwater allowing it to be reused for truck wash. The projects are also benchmarks for NYC’s Active Design program, which promotes the health and fitness of occupants through building design.
Milken Institute School of Public Health, George Washington University; Washington, D.C., Payette and Ayers Saint Gross
The Milken Institute School of Public Health at GWU embeds public health values — movement, light/air, greenery, connection to place, social interaction, community engagement — in an unconventional, LEED Platinum building on an urban campus in the heart of the nation’s capital. Research offices, classrooms and study areas are clustered around an array of multi-floor void spaces that open the building’s core to daylight and views. A sky-lit stair ascends all eight levels, encouraging physical activity. The pod-like classrooms are set in from the perimeter so informal study and social interaction space can overlook the bustling traffic circle.
Ng Teng Fong General Hospital & Jurong Community Hospital; SingaporeHOK, USA; CPG, Singapore; Studio 505, Australia
The Green Mark Platinum NTFGH is part of Singapore’s medical campus to combine continuing care from outpatient to post-acute care. Based on principles, the performance-based design supports resource efficiency, health, and well-being. Seventy percent of the facility is naturally ventilated, representing 82 percent of inpatient beds. Unlike its Singaporean peers, NTFGH provides every patient with an adjacent operable window, offering daylight and views. NTFGH incorporates parks, green roofs and vertical plantings throughout the campus. The building uses 38 percent less energy than a typical Singaporean hospital and 69 percent less than a typical U.S. hospital.
NOAA Daniel K. Inouye Regional Center; Honolulu HOK with Ferraro Choi & WSP
Located on a historic landmark site on Oahu’s Ford Island, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Inouye Regional Center features the adaptive reuse of two World War II-era airplane hangars linked by a new steel and glass building. The hangars inspired simple design solutions for how the center uses air, water and light. The LEED Gold complex accommodates 800 people in a research and office facility that integrates NOAA’s mission of science, service and stewardship with Hawaii’s cultural traditions and ecology. The interior environment, which is based on principles of campus design, creates a central gathering place.
R.W. Kern Center; Amherst, Mass., Bruner/Cott & Associates
Hampshire College’s R.W. Kern Center is a 17,000-square-foot multi-purpose facility designed to meet the Living Building Challenge. As the gateway to campus, Kern includes classrooms, offices, a café, and gallery space. The building is self-sustaining; generating its own energy, capturing its own water, and processing its own waste. The Kern Center is the result of an integrated design process and commitment to the environmental mission by the whole team. The project demonstrates Hampshire’s dedication to sustainability and stewardship, and to the college’s mission of critical inquiry, active leadership and hands-on learning.
Stanford University Central Energy Facility; Stanford, Calif., ZGF Architects LLP
At the heart of Stanford University’s campus-wide energy system is a central energy facility. The system replaces a 100 percent fossil-fuel-based co-generation plant with primarily electrical power, 65 percent of which comes from renewable sources, and a heat recovery system, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and fossil fuel and water use. The facility comprises a net-positive-energy administrative building, a heat recovery chiller plant, a cooling and heating plant, a service yard, and a campus-wide main electrical substation. Designed to integrate into the surrounding campus, the architectural expression is one of transparency and sustainability to express the facility’s purpose.
AIA COTE Top Ten Awards Jury: