AIA’s Top 10 Green Buildings in 2011
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AIA’s Top 10 Green Buildings in 2011

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Committee on the Environment (COTE) has announced the 2011 COTE Top Ten Green Projects, naming the top 10 examples of sustainable architecture and green design solutions that protect and enhance the environment. The COTE Top Ten Green Projects program celebrates projects that are the result of a thoroughly integrated approach to architecture, natural systems, and technology. They make a positive contribution to their communities, improve comfort for building occupants, and reduce environmental impact through strategies such as reuse of existing structures, connection to transit systems, low-impact and regenerative site development, energy and water conservation, use of sustainable or renewable construction materials, and design that improves indoor air quality. Here are the winners:

1. Cherokee Studios, Los Angeles, California:

Brooks + Scarpa
This apartment/office complex is built on the site of the old Cherokee recording studios in Los Angeles, which once hosted the likes of David Bowie and Warren Zevon but is now home to one of the greenest buildings in the U.S. The design uses passive cooling that takes advantage of the Southern California climate, and it has day lighting that minimizes the need for electric lights — most of which are high-efficiency LEDs.

2. First Unitarian Society Meeting House, Madison, Wisconsin:

Kubala Washatko Architects Inc.
The 20,000-sq.-ft. (1,850 sq m) addition to this historic Frank Lloyd Wright–designed meeting house is 40% more efficient than a comparable facility. The addition features recycled content and locally sourced materials, along with CO2 sensors that trigger a ventilation system to maximize energy savings when spaces are unoccupied. The addition has a vegetated roof, and individual lighting controls are in all the building areas.

3. Kiowa County Schools, Greensburg, Kansas:

BNIM Architects
After the town of Greensburg was almost totally destroyed by a tornado in 2007, the city fathers decided to build the city back green. This single K-12 school is the crown jewel. The design optimizes day lighting and natural ventilation while reducing the urban-heat-island effect through open area allocation and diverse landscaping. A 50-kilowatt wind turbine outside the school provides a portion of the building’s energy needs, with much of the rest coming from a wind farm located outside the town.

4. High Tech High, Chula Vista, California:

Studio E Architects
This 550-student public charter school actually incorporates green design in the curriculum. The building management system includes a weather station, monitors and controls, in addition to irrigation and domestic water systems. That optimizes thermal comfort and indoor air quality while conserving energy and water. This is a green school that teaches just by being.

5. Lance Armstrong Foundation, Austin, Texas:

Lake | Flato Architects
The headquarters for Lance Armstrong’s foundation was established in a renovated 1950s warehouse that was transformed into a multifunctional office space. For the new design, 88% of the material from the original building was recycled and used, while the roof’s center bays were replaced with north-facing windows to harvest daylight. No toxic chemicals were used in or around the building, which earned a gold certification from Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).

6. LOTT Clean Water Alliance, Olympia, Washington:

The Miller | Hull Partnership
Most people wouldn’t picture a sewage-treatment plant as a green building, but the LOTT Clean Water Alliance Regional Service Center is different. It has been optimized to provide solar heat and introduce daylight to reduce lighting. Methane generated from the plant’s waste-treatment process is used in a cogeneration plant to create electricity and heat. The heat is used directly in the building, thereby eliminating the need for a boiler.

7. Vancouver Convention Centre West, Vancouver:

LMN Architects, DA/MCM
Practically the entire city of ultra-environmental Vancouver could be considered one giant green building, but the convention center — the first such structure in the world to earn a platinum rating from LEED — stands out. The 6-acre (2.4 hectares) living roof hosts 400,000 indigenous plants, while free cooling economizers lower temperatures for the busiest seasons. The interior is fitted with CO2, VOC and humidity sensors; the heating and cooling are provided by seawater heat pumps powered by hydroelectricity.

8. Step Up on 5th, Santa Monica, California:

Brooks + Scarpa
A mixed-use project with 46 studio apartments that provide affordable housing and social services for the homeless and mentally disabled of Santa Monica, Step Up shows that being green is about more than just the environment. The density of the project exceeds the average population density in Manhattan by more than 10%, and the building itself is nearly 50% more efficient than a comparable conventional structure.

9. Research Support Facility at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Golden, Colorado:

RNL Design
It makes sense that the building in which cutting-edge research into renewable energy takes place would be one of the greenest structures in the U.S. The facility is meant to create a blueprint for a net-zero-energy future, integrating passive design strategies such as day lighting and natural ventilation. The open office plan reduces the building footprint per person.

10. OS House, Racine, Wisconsin:

Johnsen Schmaling Architects
This LEED platinum-rated house shows how a small building can go green even without a massive budget. Taking advantage of the breeze from nearby Lake Michigan and the site’s solar exposure, outdoor rooms reduce the house’s depth, which allows for better cross-ventilation. A compact structured plumbing system with low-flow fixtures and an on-demand hot-water circulator pump reduces water consumption.

[Via Time] [Courtesy of Omar El Singaby]

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