Timed to coincide with Earth Day, and hot on the heels of the recent Best Housing awards, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and its Committee on the Environment (COTE) has today unveiled its Top Ten examples of sustainable architecture in America.

Now in its 19th year, the COTE Top Ten Awards is one of the more significant environmentally-focused architectural awards out there. The list of winners is dominated by LEED-certified buildings, and, as you'd expect, most boast plenty of sustainable technology and design. We take a look at a few outstanding winners below.

E+ // 226-232 Highland Street Townhouses – ISA-Interface Studio Architects

The not very snappily-named E+ // 226-232 Highland Street Townhouses project, by ISA-Interface Studio Architects, comprises four three-story wood-framed townhouses in Boston, Massachusetts, in the Fort Hill Area. The homes are designed as prototypes for a series of energy-efficient urban townhouses and draw inspiration from (though are not accredited by) the Passivhaus standard. Each of the homes is LEED Platinum-rated and comprises a total floorspace of around 171 sq m (1,850 sq ft).

Sustainable design and technology includes southward-sloping roofs with solar panels, a north-facing bay window to maximize natural light, cross-ventilation, and triple-glazed windows. Heating and cooling comes via a heating, ventilating, and air conditioning unit (HVAC) and a Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV).

Tassafaronga Village – David Baker Architects

Tassafaronga Village, by David Baker Architects, is a green neighborhood based in Oakland, California, built upon a 3-hectare (7.5-acre) brownfield site that was once home to a rundown public housing project developed in 1945. The site is populated by inexpensive and energy-efficient homes for low-income families, and includes a 60-unit apartment building, 99 townhouses, and 20 apartments, plus an on-site medical clinic.

The apartment building sports a green roof which helps reduce stormwater runoff, and water-saving low-flow fixtures like taps and shower head were used throughout. The local Housing Authority has begun tracking water use, and reports that the project demonstrates a reduction of 30 percent potable water consumption. In addition, a solar array reduces grid-based electricity needs, and provides some domestic hot water.

University Center – Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

The LEED Gold-rated New School campus at 65 Fifth Avenue, Manhattan, by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, comprises a total of 32,516 sq m (350,000 sq ft) floor space, which is split between academic space on the first seven floors and 600 bedrooms on the levels above. The building also features an auditorium, a library, cafeteria, a lobby, and a cafe.

Sustainable features include a large 325 sq m (3,500 sq ft) green roof which reduces stormwater runoff, plus a water treatment system that collects water from toilets, sinks, showers, dishwashers, and washing machines, then cleans it to feed the University Center's cooling towers, and irrigation for the green roof.

Head to the gallery to see the remaining winners.

Source: AIA

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