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The Biosciences Research Building labs are surrounded by day lit corridors that function as a thermal sweater for the interior spaces.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and its Committee on the

Environment (COTE) selected the top 10 examples of sustainable architecture and ecological design projects that protect and enhance the environment. The projects were honored at the 2016 AIA Convention in Philadelphia.

View of the Center for Sustainable Landscapes building shows a portion of the green roof garden.
Photo: Walter Tien/The Design Alliance Architects

The Biosciences Research Building labs are surrounded by day lit corridors that function as a thermal sweater for the interior spaces.

The COTE Top Ten Awards program, now in its 20th year, is the profession’s most rigorous recognition program for sustainable design excellence, AIA said. The program celebrates projects that are the result of a thoroughly integrated approach to architecture, natural systems, and technology.

By conducting an in-depth study of nearly 200 COTE Top Ten Award winning projects encompassing almost 20 years in the recently released report, Lessons from the Leading Edge, it was determined that design projects recognized through this program are outpacing the industry by virtually every standard of performance.

The 2016 COTE Top Ten Green Projects jury included: Larry Strain, FAIA, LEED AP, Siegel & Strain Architects; Luke

H-E-B at Mueller parking areas use partial tree shading to reduce urban heat island effect. Rain gardens capture runoff from the parking lot, and native landscaping species are sourced within 100 miles of the store.

Leung, P.E., LEED Fellow, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP; Judith Heerwagen, Ph.D., U.S. General Services Administration; Margaret Montgomery, FAIA, LEED AP, NBBJ; and Anne Fougeron, FAIA, Fougeron Architecture.

The following descriptions briefly summarize the top 10 projects. Learn more about the projects at aiatopten.org.

A cantilevered 74-kW photovoltaic array provides 58 percent of the Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation building’s energy requirement.

Biosciences Research Building (BRB), Galway, Ireland Payette and Reddy Architecture + Urbanism The design of the BRB embraces the moderate climate of Ireland. By locating low-load spaces along the perimeter of the building, the project is able to take advantage of natural ventilation as the sole conditioning strategy for the majority of the year and is supplemented less than 10 percent of the year with radiant heating. Due to this approach, 45 percent of this intensive research building is able to function without mechanical ventilation. This is an extremely simple, yet radical approach and is rarely implemented to even a modest extent in similar laboratories in comparable U.S. climates.

Water at the Rene Cazenave Apartments is managed by a vegetated roof, smart irrigation, a courtyard stormwater tank, and reclaimed water piping. A solar canopy and resilient post-tensioned shear walls reduce long-term energy use and costs and maximize seismic resilience.

Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL), Pittsburgh The Design Alliance Architects The CSL is an education, research, and administration facility at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. Designed to be the greenest building in the world, it generates all of its own energy and treats all storm and sanitary water captured onsite. The site can manage a 10-year storm event using soil and vegetation-based systems such as green roofs, rain gardens, bioswales, lagoon, pervious asphalt, and high-performance native landscapes. The CSL is the first and only building to meet four of the highest green certifications: the Living Building Challenge, LEED Platinum, WELL Building Platinum, and Four-Stars Sustainable SITES. As an integral part of the Phipps visitor experience, the CSL focuses attention on the important intersection between the built and natural environments.

Exploratorium at Pier 15, San Francisco EHDD The Exploratorium is an interactive science museum that also demonstrates innovation and sustainability in its design and construction. The building takes advantage of the historic pier shed’s natural lighting, and the 800-foot-long roof provided space for a 1.3-megawatt photovoltaic array. The water of the bay is used for cooling and heating. Materials were used that are both sustainable and durable enough to withstand a harsh maritime climate. Structural engineers were able to perform a comprehensive seismic upgrade to the buildings while maintaining most of the existing historic walls, steel trusses, windows, and wood ceilings. Approximately 93 percent of the existing building structure and envelope was refurbished, upgraded, and reused. The project is certified LEED Platinum and is close to reaching its goal of being the country’s largest Net Zero Energy museum and an industry model for what is possible in contemporary museums.

Designed with no active heating or cooling, the Dixon Water Foundation Josey Pavilion adapts to weather conditions of any particular day. It consists of two identical, low slung, gabled roofs that form a shady courtyard around a Heritage Live Oak.

H-E-B at Mueller, Austin, Texas Lake | Flato Architects, H-E-B Design + Construction, Selser Schaefer Architects H-E-B at Mueller is an 83,587-square-foot LEED Gold and Austin Energy Green Building 4-Stars retail store and fresh food market, including a pharmacy, caf, community meeting room, outdoor gathering spaces, and fuel station. It serves 16 neighborhoods and is located in Mueller, a sustainable, mixed-use urban Austin community. Strategies include a collaborative research, goal-setting, and design process; integrated chilled water HVAC and refrigeration systems; the first North American supermarket propane refrigeration system; optimized daylighting; 169-kW roof-top solar array; electric vehicle charging; all LED lighting; and reclaimed water use for landscape irrigation, toilets, and cooling tower make-up water.

Designed with a Net Zero Energy footprint, the LEED Platinum-certified J. Craig Venter Institute building is the first net-zero energy biological laboratory in the U.S.

Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation, Berkeley, Calif. Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects Founded on the conviction that design can help

address some of society’s most pressing challenges, the Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation at UC Berkeley is devoted to introducing sustainable design innovation at the core of university life. The project provides a new interdisciplinary hub for students and teachers from across the university who work at the intersection of design and technology. It is designed as both a collaborative, project-based educational space and a symbol to the region of the university’s commitment to sustainable innovation, modeling high-density/low-carbon living and learning by reducing energy use 90 percent below national baseline. To maximize buildable area on a tight urban infill site, the structure cantilevers 12 feet over an existing two-story basement.

Rene Cazenave Apartments, San Francisco Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects and Saida + Sullivan Design Partners, Associated Architect This supportive housing for formerly chronically homeless individuals replaces a former parking lot and freeway off-ramp with a high-density, transit-oriented, and healthy living alternative. Filtered ventilation, low emitting materials, ample daylight, and views combine to aid the residents, many with mental and physical disabilities. Energy costs for the residents and non-profit owner are minimized by a combination of high-efficiency lighting and hydronic heating, a continuously insulated rain-screen building envelope, and a roof-top solar canopy with both hot water and photovoltaic panels. Water is carefully managed by a vegetated roof, smart irrigation, a courtyard stormwater tank, and reclaimed water piping. A solar canopy and resilient post-tensioned shear walls contribute toward reducing long-term energy use and costs, creating healthy living environments, and maximizing seismic resilience.

The roof area of the University of Wyoming Visual Arts Facility is fitted with one of the largest solar evacuated tube installations in the U.S.

The Dixon Water Foundation Josey Pavilion, Decatur, Texas Lake | Flato Architects The Josey Pavilion is a multi-functional education and meeting center that supports the mission of the Dixon Water Foundation to promote healthy watersheds through sustainable land management. Traditionally, livestock has caused more harm than good by overgrazing and not allowing native prairies to play their important role in habitat and watershed protection and carbon sequestration. As a certified Living Building, the Josey Pavilion facilitates a deeper understanding of how grazing livestock as well as the built environment can work to do more good than harm. Just like the Heritage Live Oak that defines the site, the building tempers the climate and enhances visitor experience by shading the sun, blocking the wind, and providing protected views.

The J. Craig Venter Institute, San Diego ZGF Architects LLP This not-for-profit research institute, dedicated to the advancement of the science of genomics, was in need of a permanent West Coast home. Their commitment to environmental stewardship led to challenging the architects to design a Net Zero Energy laboratory building, the first in the U.S. The result is a LEED Platinum-certified, 44,607-square-foot building comprised of a wet laboratory wing and an office/dry laboratory wing surrounding a central courtyard, all above a partially below-grade parking structure for 112 cars. The holistic approach to the design revolved around energy performance, water conservation, and sustainable materials.

The 9,500-square-foot West Branch of the Berkeley Public Library is California’s first certified Net Zero Energy public library.

University of Wyoming Visual Arts Facility (VAF), Laramie, Wyo. Hacker Architects and Malone Belton Able PC The VAF consolidates the fine arts program from its scattered locations throughout the campus. The building provides a teaching and learning environment that is both state-of-the-art in occupational safety and in its concern for discharge of pollutants. The roof area is fitted with one of the largest solar evacuated tube installations in the U.S. Heat flows from the evacuated tubes to support the hydronic radiant floors, domestic hot water, and pretreat outside air for ventilation. The building was oriented and shaped through a process of studying the sun’s interaction with interior spaces, simultaneously distributing reflected light while eliminating solar gain.

West Branch of the Berkeley Public Library, Berkeley, Calif. Harley Ellis Devereaux The new 9,500-square-foot West Branch of the Berkeley Public Library is the first certified Living Building Challenge Net Zero Energy public library in California. The building’s energy footprint was minimized through integrated strategies for daylighting (the building is 97 percent day lit), natural ventilation, and a high-performance building envelope. An innovative wind chimney provides cross-ventilation while protecting the library interior from street noise. Renewable energy onsite includes photovoltaic panels and solar thermal panels for radiant heating and cooling and domestic hot water. The library exceeds the 2030 Challenge and complies with Berkeley’s recently enacted Climate Action Plan.

Information provided by The American Institute of Architects (aia.org).

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