AIA announces the 2023 Committee on the Environment (COTE) top ten projects

The American Institute of Architects (AIA)’s has announced the 2023 Committee on the Environment (COTE) Top Ten Awards winners. The program, now in its 27th year is one of the industry’s top accolades for sustainable design excellence.  

Innovative projects are evaluated on their social economic and ecological value across ten design categories: Integration, Equitable Communities, Ecosystems, Water, Economy, Energy, Well-being, Resources, Change, and Discovery. 

Casa Adelante 2060 Folsom

Mithun, Y.A Studio San Francisco

Casa Adelante in San Francisco’s Mission District provides 127 households with affordable housing, with rent no more than one-third of their income. The project aims to promote social equity and a low-carbon future by taking advantage of its walkable and transit-rich location. 

View all the details about this project on the AIA site.

Confluence Park

Lake|Flato Architects, Matsys (San Antonio)

Confluence Park is a living laboratory located on the San Antonio River that serves as a destination for learning and recreation. The park’s design reflects the idea of confluence, with shaped lands representing the convergence of ecotypes and concrete petal structures in the central pavilion inspired by plants that funnel rainwater to their roots.

View all the details about this project on the AIA site.

DPR Sacramento Zero Net Energy Office

SmithGroup (Sacramento, California) | Image credit Chad Davies

DPR Construction’s new headquarters in Sacramento is a net-zero energy project that aims to create a sustainable work environment and foster collaboration among employees. The project includes the renovation of a 1940 building and a cross-laminated timber addition. The office incorporates biophilic design elements, such as a seed wall containing dormant seeds of native grassland species, which is essential to over 90% of California’s wildlife.

View all the details about this project on the AIA site.

Harvard University Science and Engineering Complex

Behnisch Architekten (Boston) | Image credits Brad Feinknopf

Harvard’s Science and Engineering Complex (SEC) is one of the healthiest and most energy-efficient laboratory buildings globally, setting a new standard for the university’s environmental stewardship mission. Located in Lower Allston, one of Boston’s neighborhoods, the complex is designed to encourage collaboration among users and reflect the leading research taking place inside.

View all the details about this project on the AIA site.

John W. Olver Transit Center

Charles Rose Architects (Greenfield, Massachusetts) | Image Credits Peter Vanderwarker

The John W. Olver Transit Center is the first net-zero energy transit center built in the United States, serving as a vital intermodal hub that introduces high-performance design to Massachusetts. The center is a depot for bus lines, Amtrak, and an office for the county’s government, reflecting Franklin County’s commitment to sustainability and ethical design.

View all the detail about this project on the AIA site.

RIDC Mill 19: Buildings A & B

MSR Design, R3A Architecture (Pittsburgh) | Image credits Corey Gaffer

Mill 19 is a significant new addition to Pittsburgh’s post-industrial landscape and the largest single-slope bifacial glass photovoltaic array in the US, crowning the former steel mill that now welcomes the sustainable future of advanced manufacturing. The project accelerates the city’s future and serves as a potent catalyst for the development of Hazelwood Green, Pittsburgh’s largest riverfront redevelopment project. 

View all the details about this project on the AIA site.

Science and Environmental Center

Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects (Hillsborough, California) | Image credits Richard Barnes

The new Science and Environmental Center at The Nueva School is a net zero carbon building designed to foster lifelong learning and environmental citizenship among students. The center features eight science labs and associated support spaces, as well as indoor and outdoor learning spaces linked together to create an “ecology of learning.” 

View all the details about this project on the AIA site.

UC San Diego North Torrey Pines Living & Learning Neighborhood

HKS, Safdie Rabines Architects (San Diego) | Image credits Tom Harris

The North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood is the largest project in the University of California, San Diego’s history.The project reflects the school’s commitment to climate change research and education, and its goal to be carbon neutral by 2025. Conceived through evidence-based design, it is the most substantial project in the higher education sector to receive LEED Platinum certification. 

View all the details about this project on the AIA site.


Weber Thompson (Seattle) | Image credits Built Work Photography

Watershed is a seven-story office building in Seattle that is part of the city’s Living Building Pilot Program. It is designed to make a positive impact on the local waterways, which suffer from stormwater runoff. The building features bioswales that clean more than 400,000 gallons of polluted water before it reaches Lake Union.

View all the details about this project on the AIA site.

Westwood Hills Nature Center

HGA Architects and Engineers (St. Louis Park, Minnesota) | Image credits Peter J. Sieger

The Westwood Hills Nature Center in St. Louis Park, Minnesota is a new interpretive and accessible gateway to nature. The design of the center draws inspiration from the surrounding forest, with an exterior skin that evokes tree bark and fiber cement panels and window assemblies that subdivide and branch like the trees. The center is a teaching tool and amenity shaped by the city’s forward-thinking climate action plan that aims to achieve net zero by 2040.

View all the details about this project on the AIA site.

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