The Habits of High-Performance Firms

Lessons from frequent winners of the AIA COTE Top Ten Award, 1997–2016

2017 COTE Report_Webstie Cover Image_V01

The Josey Pavilion is a 2016 COTE Top Ten recipient. The project firm Lake|Flato has received 10 COTE Top Ten awards, all in the past decade.

For over 20 years the AIA COTE Top Ten Awards have recognized architecture firms who have completed projects that employ the latest innovations in sustainable design to create the highest performance buildings. Studying these firms reveals several common traits related to their specialization, size, location, staff, and age. These findings support the idea that there is a connection between great, sustainable projects and overall firm excellence.

Of the 130 architecture firms that have received at least one COTE Top Ten Award, 29 have done so more than once and 17 have three or more times. Of those receiving more than three COTE Top Ten Awards, 59 percent have also been recognized as AIA Firm Award recipients, the AIA’s highest award given to architecture firms.

According to the report these high-performance firms have the following traits:

  • unanimous signing of the AIA 2030 Commitment
  • significantly high project performance for energy, water, and other metrics
  • energy modeling, daylighting modeling, and post-occupancy evaluations as standard practice
  • geographic concentration (47 percent on the West Coast)
  • medium size (average staff number of 75)
  • a high percentage of women in staff (46 percent) and leadership positions (34 percent)
  • low staff turnover (under 10 percent)
  • a high percentage of staff with LEED accreditation (48 percent)

Image credits

2017 COTE Report_Webstie Cover Image_V01

Casey Dunn