The Best in Sustainable Architecture for 2016


The Best in Sustainable Architecture for 2016

by Amy Lignor


With each new day, each new climate change report, each new testament that the Federal government will no longer help an individual state if the states don’t realize that climate change is a serious issue, more and more people are starting to understand that the world around us needs human help in order to continue to grow and stay healthy for the next generation.


Just this week the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and its Committee on the Environment (COTE) selected and released their list of the “2016 Top Ten” projects when it comes to sustainable architecture/eco design. A list that is sure to increase in size as all states hop on board the “sustainability train.”


COTE is now operating in its twentieth year, and in those two decades has outpaced the industry by virtually every standard when it comes to sustainable architecture and the best in environmental projects. Enhancing the environment by using a recipe of building materials, natural systems, and technology being integrated together, COTE’s design projects are virtually amazing, with more and more states needing to get in on the act in order to make a cleaner world.


Among the top ten is the Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. An education, research and administration facility located at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, the CSL is the “greenest building in the world.” Generating all its own energy, treating all storm and sanitary water captured on-site, it is the first structure to meet four of the highest green certifications available.

AIA, COTE, 2016 Top Ten projects, architecture, eco design, climate change, sustainable building projects

Phipps Conservatory

In San Francisco, the Exploratorium at Pier 15 is an interactive science museum that demonstrates innovation and sustainability. Taking full advantage of the historic Pier 15’s natural lighting, and the 800-foot-long roof, a 1.3 megawatt photovoltaic array is part of the architecture. The water of San Fran Bay is used for cooling and heating, and the building materials that were used are durable enough to withstand any harsh maritime climate.


Also found in San Francisco are the Rene Cazenave Apartments. What was once a parking lot and freeway off-ramp, these apartments are a true healthy living alternative that provide residents with filtered ventilation, reduced energy costs received by a combination of ample daylight, high efficiency lighting and hydronic heating, as well as a solar canopy on the roof with both hot water and photovoltaic panels.

AIA, COTE, 2016 Top Ten projects, architecture, eco design, climate change, sustainable building projects

Rene Cazenave Apartments

The Lone Star State of Texas offers the H-E-B at Mueller in Austin, which is an 80M+ square-foot retail store and fresh food market serving 16 neighborhoods. Using integrated chilled water HVAC and refrigeration systems, it has the first North American supermarket propane refrigeration system, optimized daylighting of the facility, a roof-top solar array, and more.


While in Decatur, Texas, the Dixon Water Foundation Josey Pavilion is also on the list. A multi-functional education and meeting center, it supports the mission of the Dixon Water Foundation to promote healthy watersheds through sustainable land management.

AIA, COTE, 2016 Top Ten projects, architecture, eco design, climate change, sustainable building projects

Entrance to the Josey Pavilion (Photo by Casey Dunn)

The Visual Arts Facility in Laramie, Wyoming provides a teaching and learning environment that’s both state-of-the-art in occupational safety, as well as in its ideas and thoughts on how to discharge pollutants. The roof is built with one of the largest solar evacuated tube installations in the United States that help the hydronic radiant floors, domestic hot water, and pretreat the outside air.


In addition, the West Branch of the Berkeley Public Library in Berkeley, California, received its own spot in the “Top Ten.” The brand new, 9,500-square-foot structure is the first certified Living Building Challenge, zero net energy, public library in California. 97% of the time, the library is day-lit, with an innovative wind chimney providing cross-ventilation while protecting the library’s interior from street noise.


As time moves on, the number of sustainable building projects will grow. It will be interesting to see what states hurry up to join Texas and California (who just happen to be ahead) in making sustainable buildings a common development on every street corner.

Source:  Baret News