AIA report analyzes 20 years of the best green projects

"Lessons from the Leading Edge" is a study of the 200 Committee on the Environment (COTE) Top Ten Award winning projects since 1997.

April 04, 2016 |
AIA report analyzes 20 years of the best green projects

Federal Center South Building 1202 in Seattle. The building, designed by ZGF Architects LLP, was a COTE Top Ten Green Project in 2013. Photo: Benjamin Benschneider

Each year, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) selects the ten best green buildings. Since this will be the report’s 20th year, the organization has a large enough sample size to find some key takeaways from the projects it has recognized.

"Lessons from the Leading Edge" is a study of the 200 Committee on the Environment (COTE) Top Ten Award winning projects since 1997. The report tracks energy efficiency, water conservation, and indoor environmental quality and evaluates design quality and environmental performance.

“Top Ten winners are an extraordinary group of case studies from the leading edge of sustainable design over the past two decades,” Lance Hosey, FAIA, lead author of the report and a member of the COTE Advisory Group, said in a statement. “The projects have been studied and published widely as individual projects, but never as a group—until now. What we found is that Top Ten winners are outpacing the industry by virtually every standard of performance, but they also exemplify the integration of design excellence and sustainable performance.”

The report offered recommendations for architects (“Drive greater awareness of the health impact of building materials and need for better indoor air quality,” for example) and it noted green projects trends. Projects effectively reduce water and often exceed AIA 2030 Commitment targets for energy savings. They tend to be located in urban areas and skew more towards the West Coast of North America. 

"Lessons from the Leading Edge" is being released before the 2016 Top Ten Green Project awards, which will be announced April 22.

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