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And the Winners Are: Top Ten Green Projects Receive 2002 AIA/COTE Awards

Projects, large and small, prove the environmental, social, and economic benefits of sustainable design.

by Kira Gould, Assoc. AIA
May 13, 2002

In recognition of Earth Day, The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Committee on the Environment (COTE) selected its annual Top Ten Green Projects, 10 examples of architectural design solutions that protect and enhance the environment. This year's winners include projects designed for the federal government, large and small businesses, nonprofit organizations, and individuals — proving the environmental, social, and economic benefits of sustainable design for clients of any size.


The program, begun in 1998, recognizes projects that address significant environmental challenges with designs that integrate architecture, technology, and natural systems. Projects are evaluated for their contributions to their sites and existing ecosystems, connections to the surrounding community, and use of high-performance technologies, energy, and materials and resources.


Sustainable design is increasingly acknowledged — by architects, their consultants and clients, and the public — as an important characteristic of quality architecture. In the four years since the Top Ten Green Projects awards program was started, numerous projects have been realized as American firms ascended a learning curve. Winning projects in this year's group come from firms that are well known for their leadership in sustainable design, as well as several just beginning to utilize sustainable principles in their approach to projects.


This award and the range of submissions it fields are representative of the growing market transformation under way in this country and around the world. Corporations and other organizations are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of sustainable design — to people, the environment, and to the bottom line. Financial benefits are realized through energy and cost-of-operations savings as well as reduced absenteeism and greater productivity in some settings.


The jury for the 2002 COTE Awards included Randy Croxton, FAIA, Croxton Collaborative; Sim van der Ryn, Van der Ryn Architects; Horst Berger, City University of New York; and Guy Battle, Battle McCarthy.


The AIA Committee on the Environment represents more than 5,000 AIA architects committed to making sustainable design integral to the practice of architecture. The Top Ten Green Projects initiative was developed in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy. Selected projects include new construction and renovation of office, residential, academic, civic, and institutional facilities.


The winning entries selected for the 2002 AIA Top Ten Green Projects are (in alphabetical order):


Bank of Astoria, Manzanita, Oregon
Tom Bender, Architect


This 7,500-square-foot bank building blends energy performance, local ecological fitness, community benefit, and economic success. The design process focused on community, cultural, spiritual, and energetic dimensions of sustainability as well as the more conventional energy and material aspects. The facility benefits from significant daylighting, on-site storm-water retention, and natural ventilation and cooling. Zoned high-efficiency fluorescent lighting is used during just a quarter of the building's occupied time. Local materials were used where possible, and landscaping is local native coastal plants. The energy-efficient bank opened just before last summer's West Coast energy shortages, which led to a strong sense of local pride in the facility.


Building 850, Energy & Sustainability Showcase Project, Port Hueneme, California
CTG Energetics (Constructive Technologies Group)


The project is home to the Naval Base Ventura County Public Works Department, and consists of 10,000 square feet of renovated space and 7,000 square feet of new construction. Concepts and systems incorporated into the design include: daylighting, shading, and innovative glazing elements; maximum use of natural ventilation; photovoltaic power generation; solar space and domestic water heating systems; lighting with continuously dimming electronic ballasts and occupancy and photo sensor controls; real-time energy monitoring; HVAC systems demonstrating several new technologies including prototype natural-gas heat-pump air conditioning, variable air volume under-floor air distribution, and high-efficiency pulse boilers; gray water system for capture and reuse of rain water and lavatory discharge; self-sustaining landscaping and water conserving irrigation system; indoor air quality monitoring; and extensive use of recycled building materials. Project designers used physical and computerized modeling to optimize the interaction of daylighting with the building envelope, interiors, and systems.


Camp Arroyo, Livermore, California
Siegel & Strain Architects


This environmental education camp, which serves middle school as well as critically ill children and other guests, was designed to demonstrate a series of ecological design principles as part of the curriculum. Bathhouses are made of stabilized earth, the cabins are efficient wood structures, and the dining hall is a straw-bale building. Low-tech solutions to heating, cooling, and water treatment were favored over more complex mechanical technologies for energy efficiency, lower cost, and simplicity. The bathhouses are open-air, seasonal structures with natural ventilation and no mechanical system. The cabins and dining hall depend on shading strategies and operable clerestory windows to keep them cool. The cabins have south-facing sunrooms for winter heat gain and solar panels for water heating and backup radiant heat. The biological wastewater treatment system treats water with minimal energy input, demonstrating that there is no waste in nature.


Edificio Malecon, Buenos Aires


The 125,000-square-foot office building was built on a reclaimed brownfield site (its garage was built within the foundations of a 19th century warehouse) at Puerto Madero, a redevelopment area in Buenos Aires. The building was developed as a long narrow slab to minimize solar gain on the structure, the east and west ends of which are "pinched." The broad northern face, the primary solar exposure, is shaped to track the sun and is fully screened with deep sunshades that virtually eliminate direct solar radiation during peak cooling months. The south face, which reflects the geometry of the northern façade, is equipped with the same high-performance curtainwall system as the other façades, minimizing solar gain. Open floor plates and raised floors provide flexibility for multi-tenant offices or alternative future uses.


Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities, Ankeny, Iowa
RDG Bussard Dikis


This 13,000-square-foot facility, the Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities (IAMU) Office and Training Headquarters, was conceived as a teaching tool. Designed and built within a modest budget, its energy consumption is 48 percent less than a conventional design and it is 98 percent daylit. The building uses a geothermal heat pump system for heating and cooling. Building occupants enjoy multiple views of the landscape and sky from any point inside the building. The project also restored a suburban farm field, destined for commercial development, into a native Iowa tall-grass prairie. Soil erosion had been plaguing the site, harming nearby Carney Marsh, a 40-acre protected wetland. The reconstructed prairie, wetlands, and siltration ponds have recreated habitat for flora and fauna.


National Wildlife Federation Headquarters, Reston, Virginia


The new 100,000-square-foot headquarters serves 300 employees and guests. The National Wildlife Federation made a commitment to build a headquarters facility that would demonstrate sensible stewardship of its financial resources. They accomplished this through a rigorous payback analysis to select "state-of-the-shelf" construction technologies and materials. Native plantings support local wildlife and reduce the need for irrigation and frequent mowing. The building's orientation capitalizes on solar energy sources to reduce energy expenditure and increase natural light. The facility's north side, which overlooks the park, is a curtainwall of glass that offers beautiful vistas and floods the interior spaces with light to create a welcoming atmosphere. With a budget of $55/SF for the base building and $20/SF for interiors, the facility represents the low end of the spectrum for speculative real-estate development. (ArchNewsNow feature)


Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies, Oberlin College, Ohio
William McDonough + Partners


Designed to be restorative, the center celebrates the interaction of human and natural environments. With a goal to be a net-energy exporter, the teaching and public space integrates natural energy flows while blurring the distinction between indoors and out. The light-drenched two-story atrium serves as the primary organizing feature and the southern campus' "town hall." Daylighting and natural ventilation enhance the atrium's feeling of an "outdoor room." The center project demonstrates how state-of-the-art thinking applies to readily available state-of-the-shelf materials and building systems. Throughout, the design team remained mindful of how even the most advanced systems still must serve the needs of the building's occupants.


Pier 1, San Francisco


This adaptive reuse project transformed a dilapidated warehouse on San Francisco's waterfront into 140,000 square feet of class A office space and an acre of new public open space. The design reflects the history and nature of the site, uses green materials garnered from green sources, and provides clean air and natural light for occupants. Pier 1 is surrounded by water, which flows through radiant tubes in floor slabs for heating and cooling. This system moderates the interior climate according to each zone's location and orientation. Generated heat is rejected into a submerged condenser water loop under the building, dissipating energy into the bay within a tightly prescribed temperature range.


Puget Sound Environmental Learning Center, Bainbridge Island, Washington


The 70,000-square-foot facility includes an interpretive center, a great hall, offices, learning studios, dining hall, art studio, maintenance building, and visitor accommodations. Wastewater is treated on site and reused. Rainwater is collected for irrigation and other uses. Photovoltaic installation provides more than half of the power for the learning-studio building. Rooftop solar hot water panels reduce hot water demand at lodges and dining hall by 50 percent. Ventilation replaces air conditioning, with operable skylights providing maximum through-ventilation. High-efficiency fluorescent lighting with photocells reduces energy use. High-quality metal roofs and metal clad windows will provide long life in the heavily wooded Northwest environment.


Tofte Cabin, Tofte, Minnesota
Sarah Nettleton Architects

The renovation of a 1947 cabin resulted in a 950-square-foot, soul-satisfying retreat that is a model of sustainable design. The cabin's original site and adjacent trees were retained to shelter the cabin from winter winds and open it to sun and wind from the east and south. The locally quarried granite's hue echoes the color of the spruce and the lake as it references the granite bedrock beneath the house. Natural stack ventilation through low and high windows cools the cabin. An air-to-air heat exchanger provides ventilation. A super-insulated thermal envelope minimized the load on the geothermal heat pump in-floor heating system. The heat pump provides domestic hot water as well. Built with long-lasting materials and careful details, the cabin is a beautiful retreat that will serve for generations.


Kira L. Gould is a New York City-based freelance writer and communications associate with Gould Evans Goodman Associates.

(click on pictures to enlarge)

(Courtesy of the architect)
Tom Bender, Architect: Bank of Astoria

(Courtesy of the architect)
CTG Energetics: Building 850, Energy & Sustainability Showcase Project

(Courtesy of the architect)
Siegel & Strain Architects: Camp Arroyo

(Courtesy of the architect)
HOK: Edificio Malecon

(Courtesy of the architect)
RDG Bussard Dikis: Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities

(Courtesy of the architect)
HOK: National Wildlife Federation Headquarters

(Courtesy of the architect)
William McDonough + Partners: Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies, Oberlin College

(Courtesy of the architect)
SMWM: Pier 1

(Courtesy of the architect)
Mithun: Puget Sound Environmental Learning Center

(Courtesy of the architect)
Sarah Nettleton Architects: Tofte Cabin

© 2002