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COTE Mission

The Committee on the Environment (COTE) works to advance, disseminate, and advocate—to the profession, the building industry, the academy, and the public—design practices that integrate built and natural systems and enhance both the design quality and environmental performance of the built environment. COTE serves as the community and voice on behalf of AIA architects regarding sustainable design and building science and performance.

COTE reflects the profession’s commitment to provide healthy and safe environments for people and is dedicated to preserving the earth’s capability of sustaining a shared high quality of life. The committee’s mission is to lead and coordinate the profession’s involvement in environmental and energy-related issues and to promote the role of the architect as a leader in preserving and protecting the planet and its living systems.

COTE provides the AIA with knowledge about environmental issues and advises the Institute on environmental policy matters affecting the practice of architecture. The committee supports cooperation with educators and institutions of learning, manufacturers, government agencies, environmental organizations, and industry groups in advancing environmentally sound design processes and standards as well as environmentally innovative materials and integrated systems.

COTE Goals

  • To advance the importance of sustainable design to our fellow architects, within the Institute, and to the broader public.
  • To educate architects about the environmental and energy-related impacts of design decisions & about how to incorporate sustainable design into daily practice.
  • To define and promote the cutting edge of sustainable design for our profession.
  • To foster leadership among architects in all facets of environmental decision making.
  • To recognize environmental leadership of architects in practice, education, industry, and government.
  • To influence the direction of architectural education to place more emphasis on ecological literacy , sustainable design and building science
  • To maintain, refine, and strengthen alliances with professional and trade associations and other leaders in environmentally responsible design to coordinate our sustainable agendas to make our message stronger.
  • To maintain, refine, and strengthen alliances with other AIA Knowledge Communities and committees, and serve as a resource to Institute initiatives and projects that promote sustainability in the built environment.
  • To green AIA convention venues and meetings.
  • To communicate the AIA’s environmental and energy-related concerns to the public and private sectors and influence the decisions of the public, professionals, clients, and public officials on the impact of their environmental and energy-related decisions
  • To educate architects on regulatory, performance, technical and building science issues and how those issues influence architecture. Educate the architectural profession on programming, designing, and managing building performance.
  • To investigate and disseminate information regarding building performance best practices, criteria, measurement methods, planning tools, occupant-comfort, heat/air/moisture interfaces between the interior and exterior of buildings.
  • To promote a more integrated practice in order to achieve environmentally and economically efficient buildings. One of the tools we will plan to promote to achieve this integration is Building Information Technology (BIM).


Sustainability envisions the enduring prosperity of all living things.

Sustainable design seeks to create communities, buildings, and products that contribute to this vision.

Ten Measures of Sustainable Design

Measure 1: Design and Innovation
Sustainable design is an inherent aspect of design excellence. Projects should express sustainable design concepts and intentions and take advantage of innovative programming opportunities.

Measure 2: Regional/Community Design
Sustainable design values the unique cultural and natural character of a given region.

Measure 3: Land Use and Site Ecology
Sustainable design protects and benefits ecosystems, watersheds, and wildlife habitat in the presence of human development.

Measure 4: Bioclimatic Design
Sustainable design conserves resources and maximizes comfort through design adaptations to site-specific and regional climate conditions.

Measure 5: Light and Air
Sustainable design creates comfortable interior environments that provide daylight, views, and fresh air.

Measure 6: Water Cycle
Sustainable design conserves water and protects and improves water quality.

Measure 7: Energy Flows and Energy Future
Sustainable design conserves energy and resources and reduces the carbon footprint while improving building performance and comfort. Sustainable design anticipates future energy sources and needs.

Measure 8: Materials and Construction
Sustainable design includes the informed selection of materials and products to reduce product-cycle environmental impacts, improve performance, and optimize occupant health and comfort.

Measure 9: Long Life, Loose Fit
Sustainable design seeks to enhance and increase ecological, social, and economic values over time.

Measure 10: Collective Wisdom and Feedback Loops
Sustainable design strategies and best practices evolve over time through documented performance and shared knowledge of lessons learned.



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