AIA Selects Top Green Building Projects for 2011

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and its Committee on the Environment (COTE) selected the top 10 examples of sustainable architecture and green design solutions for the year. 

Now in its 15th year, the projects are selected for sustainable design excellence using a thoroughly integrated approach to architecture, natural systems and technology. They 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.

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 6-acre living roof, the largest in Canada, has 400,000 indigenous plants. The heating and cooling is provided by very high efficiency, sea water heat pumps powered by hydro electricity. The interior is fitted throughout with CO2, VOC, and humidity sensors, which can be monitored in conjunction with airflow, temperature, and lighting controls to optimize air quality on a room-by-room basis.

Cherokee Studios, Los Angeles
BROOKS + SCARPA (formerly Pugh + Scarpa)

The design of this urban infill, mixed-use, market-rate housing project takes advantage of the mild, Southern California climate with a passive cooling strategy. It combines high-efficiency LED and electric lighting, photo and occupancy sensors, and natural daylighting. It minimizes energy use while daylighting 100% of the regularly occupied building area. A combination of a solar panel covered cool and green roof, and blown-in cellulose insulation complete an efficient building shell exceeding California Title 24 requirements 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 40% more efficient than a comparable base case facility. 

The design incorporates recycled-content and locally-sourced materials, daylighting (91%). Although the addition nearly doubles the building’s footprint, a green roof and reduced parking area,  increases the percentage of vegetated surface on the property.

Kiowa County K-12 Schools, Greensburg, KS
BNIM Architects

Following a devastating tornado that destroyed the town and schools, the town combined their schools into a single K-12 facility that optimizes daylighting and natural ventilation, and reduces the town’s urban heat island effect through open areas and diverse landscaping. A 50 kilowatt wind turbine supplies some of the electricity; the rest comes from a the wind farm located outside of town.

High Tech High Chula Vista, Chula Vista, CA
Studio E Architects

This public charter school serving 550 students in grades 9-12 has a building management system which integrates a weather station, and monitors and controls its lighting and mechanical systems, irrigation and domestic water systems. This optimizes thermal comfort, indoor air quality, lighting levels, and conserves energy and water. It reflects the school’s guiding principles of personalization, adult-world connection, and common intellectual mission.

LIVESTRONG Foundation, Austin, TX
Lake|Flato Architects

The adaptive reuse of a 1950’s warehouse transformed the concrete tilt-wall building into a multi-functional office space for a staff of 62.

88% of the materials from the demolition of the dilapidated warehouse were recycled and used in the new design. North  facing clerestory windows were added for daylighting in the core workspace. No toxic chemicals are used in or around the building. 

LOTT Clean Water Alliance, Olympia, WA
The Miller | Hull Partnership

Different strategies were utilized to control solar heat gain, improve the energy performance of the building, and introduce daylight and provide views. Methane generated from the plant’s waste treatment process is used in a cogeneration plant to generate electricity and heat. The heat is used directly in the building through a low temperature water loop connected to water source heat pumps, thus eliminating the need for a boiler, cooling tower, or geothermal field.

OS House, Racine, WI
Johnsen Schmaling Architects

Occupying a narrow infill lot in an old city neighborhood at the edge of Lake Michigan, this LEED Platinum home demonstrates how a small residence can be built green with a moderate budget.

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 daylighting.

The house features a compact structured plumbing system with low-flow fixtures throughout and an on-demand hot water circulating pump, significantly reducing water consumption.

Research Support Facility (RSF) at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Golden, CO
RNL Design

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.

Many of the integrated passive design strategies such as daylighting and natural ventilation support both energy and human performance. An open office plan resulted in a higher density workplace reducing the building footprint per person.

Step Up on 5th, Santa Monica, CA
BROOKS + SCARPA (formerly Pugh + Scarpa)

At 258 dwelling units/acre, it exceeds the average density of the New York City’s borough of Manhattan by over 10%. The building is located near transit with access to community resources and services. It is almost 50% more efficient than California Title 24-2005 standards for similar conventional structures.

The mixed-use project includes 46 affordable housing apartments and supportive services for the homeless and mentally disabled population in the heart of downtown Santa Monica.

The 2011 COTE Top Ten Green Projects jury includes: Joshua W. Aidlin, AIA, Aidlin Darling Design; Mary Guzowski, University of Minnesota School of Architecture; Kevin Kampschroer, General Services Administration, Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings; Mary Ann Lazarus, AIA LEED AP, HOK; Jennifer Sanguinetti, P.E. LEED AP, Smart Buildings & Energy Management, BC Housing; and Lauren Yarmuth, LEED AP, YRG New York.

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