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The COTE® Top Ten Awards is the industry’s best-known award program for sustainable design excellence.

(Image Credit: Tashjian Bee and Pollinator Discovery Center; Architect: MSR Design; Owner: University of Minnesota)

We are excited to share this year’s winners of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Committee on the Environment Top 10 Design awards. Each year, ten innovative projects are recognized for their integration of design excellence with environmental performance. The 2019 jury included Nancy Clanton, Clanton & Associates; Paul Mankins, FAIA, Substance Architecture; Christiana Moss, AIA, Studio Ma; Christoph Reinhart, MIT; and Allison Williams, FAIA, AGWms_studio.

Until 2017, COTE® Top Ten recognized ten projects based largely on predicted performance. The measures and metrics were entirely revamped in 2017 and now emphasize the importance of actual performance in addition to design intent. WATERSHED’s very own Rebecca Bryant was honored to serve on the technical review board as a subject matter expert on Ecology and Water. Reflecting on the experience, she said,

“The winning projects challenge us all to measure design success not just in terms of aesthetics, or performance, but also in terms of social impact. It was an honor to participate in the technical review process, and an inspiration to study these projects more deeply.”

The COTE Awards showcase the best design happening today. The 2019 winners include eight projects in the United States—ranging from a zoo education center, to university lab buildings, to a waste transfer station, to a famed New York cathedral—as well as a university building in Canada and a high school in Kenya. Rebecca adds,

“These projects show us we should expect more, not just of well funded schools and environment education centers, but of affordable housing projects, schools that are struggling with shoestring budgets, our sometimes under-loved infrastructure buildings, like the waste transfer station, and of course of historic revitalization projects.”

To see all 10 exceptional designs, visit:

To learn more about how COTE defines excellence in sustainability, and to access the COTE Top Ten Toolkit visit: