AIA empowers architects to design a world that allows people, communities, and our planet to thrive

Chatham University Eden Hall Campus_image8_M5

The Chatham University Eden Hall Campus IS A 2017 COTE TOP TEN RECIPIENT.

Why is sustainability important?

Sustainability is a key element of the architecture profession’s approach to design in the 21st century as it tackles the compounding global challenges of resource availability, water quality and increasing pollution. It is part of an architect’s approach to protecting the health, safety and welfare of the public.  Community sustainability goals are fulfilled in large part by an architect’s ability to create practical solutions to the challenges posed by climate change, population growth and the pursuit of more connected, healthier communities.

AIA's commitment to sustainability

We have a long history promoting sustainability in architecture. From the publication of Environmental Design: Research and Practice in 1971 to the creation of the Committee on the Environment, COTE, in 1990 and connections to the Historic Resources Committee established in 1857, the Institute has long been a leader in sustainable design. Our commitment to a better built environment continues in our current programs and planning for what’s to come.

last updated June 12, 2018.

2020 COTE® Top Ten Awards

The 2020 COTE® Top Ten program highlights projects that meet the AIA Committee on the Environment's rigorous criteria for social, economic, and ecologic value.

AIA COTE® Top Ten for Students

The COTE® Top Ten awards are the industry’s best-known awards program for sustainable design excellence.


AIA 2030 Commitment by the numbers

An overview of the progress that projects and firms are making towards greater energy efficiency and the profession's 2030 targets.


Design for Adaptability, Deconstruction, and Reuse

Spaces that are designed to be flexible make reacting to crisis easier. This guide redefines what it means to be adaptable.

Design for Equitable Communities AIAU Course

Learn how you can create more equitable places through design processes and strategies.

Take the course


Renovate, Retrofit, Reuse

Prepare your firm to take advantage of an increasing number of retrofit projects to generate positive economic, health, and environmental benefits with this guide that includes data, guiding principles, and case studies.

How To

Framework for Design Excellence

A resource, accessible to all architects, that closes the information gap to designing high performing, equitable, beautiful buildings

Healthier Materials Protocol

The new AIA Healthier Materials Protocol was created to provide clear, practical methods and tools to navigate materials and effectively translate awareness to practice.


Architect’s Guide to Building Performance

Use simulations to improve the performance of your projects

Issue Brief

Leveraging Energy Transparency

COTE Super Spreadsheet

Download the tool to help you understand and calculate metrics associated with the Framework for Design Excellence in order to analyze and improve your project.

Download now


Modular and Off-Site Construction Guide

From quality and safety to schedule efficiency and sustainability, modular building has a lot to offer owners and project teams. Learn more about the variety of benefits of modular construction with the new AIA Modular and Off-Site Construction Guide.


What all architects need to know about materials transparency

The AIA has produced a white paper, created by materials specialists but aimed at all architects, that emphasizes the necessity for materials transparency.

How To

AIA Resilience and Adaptation Certificate Series

Do you want to integrate resilience into the design services your firm offers? The Resilience and Adaptation series is your answer.


How to talk to clients about materials transparency

Including materials health and environmental priorities in early conversations can be a critical step to ensuring a project is not only designed well but creates long-term benefits for occupants.

Where we stand: climate action

AIA asserts that architects play a vital role in combating climate change. We accept these challenges. We call on policymakers to join with us in this effort, and we uphold the following principles.

Four ways architects can fight climate change

We have less than 12 years to slow down global warming. Here’s what you can do.

Design & Health Research Consortium

Members of the AIA Design & Health Research Consortium are expected to improve the usefulness and quality of research linking design to health outcomes through deliberative partnership with other entities.

Prioritizing the future

The Sustainability Leadership Opportunity Scan charted a path forward for AIA to implement strategies to address each of the four priority areas; to support bold action at the member, component, and national levels; and to expand sustainability partnerships, advocacy, and educational programs.


Disaster Assistance Handbook

The third edition of this handbook will help you understand your role in preparing for and responding to disasters.

Social impact

Addressing global climate change through AIA’s 2030 Commitment

As the world's urban population grows, American architects must expand their influence and preach the value of a performance-based design process.

Image credits

Chatham University Eden Hall Campus_image8_M5

Bruce Damonte