Each year, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Committee on the Environment (COTE) reveals its 10 most sustainable buildings. Representing some of the best high-profile green architecture you're likely to see in one place, this year's selection includes solar-powered schools, super-efficient universities, and a Singaporean hospital that uses 69 percent less energy than its typical US counterpart.
The 2017 COTE Top Ten Awards comprises a total of 10 projects, one of which is a previous winner that has performed just as green as expected over the years, and is hailed as the COTE Top Ten Plus winner.
We've highlighted three of our favorites below, but hit the gallery to see the rest of the projects.
Ng Teng Fong General Hospital & Jurong Community Hospital – HOK
Singapore's Ng Teng Fong General Hospital & Jurong Community Hospital is an impressively green hospital that focuses on passive design principles.
Unlike some other Singaporean hospitals, it offers every patient an adjacent operable window to ensure fresh air and views. The building reduces water use with a greywater recycling system, while cross ventilation and exterior shading also helps keep the temperature down. This must work as an impressive 70 percent of the facility is naturally ventilated, representing 82 percent of inpatient beds.
Its green roofs are packed with dense vegetation and the exterior walls are also covered in greenery. The building is reported to use 38 percent less energy than a typical Singaporean hospital and 69 percent less than a typical US hospital.
"This project is an extraordinary model for hospitals to behave as healing environments, not seen in the United States," say AIA's judges. "In a tropical climate, 82 percent of the patient beds are primarily passively cooled and naturally ventilated. The reliance on passive strategies provides significant energy reductions and also connection to daylight and views."
Stanford University Central Energy Facility – ZGF Architects LLP
In 2011, Stanford University decided to explore replacing its aging and almost 100 percent fossil-fuel-based energy systems. The result was this high-tech, architecturally attractive and sustainable central energy facility designed by ZGF Architects LLP.
The Stanford University Central Energy Facility runs from 65 percent renewable sources. It features a large roof-based solar power array and water storage tanks that provide 93 percent of the campus buildings' heating and hot water requirements. The new facility saves 127 million gallons of water annually, or 18 percent of the entire campus' potable water use.
"This project fulfills a carbon-neutral strategy for Stanford and houses a central plant and facilities building," say AIA's judges. "The facility demonstrates a long-range climate and energy plan in action. It transforms what would be a typical unappreciated energy plant into a classroom and a moment of architectural joy."
R.W. Kern Center – Bruner/Cott & Associates
The R.W. Kern Center serves as a gateway to Hampshire College and includes classrooms, offices, a café, and gallery space. The building is completely self-sustaining: it generates its own electricity using solar panels, captures rainwater for use, and recycles its own waste.
In a nice touch, the design team took advantage of the public nature of the welcome center to make electrical conduits, ductwork, and piping all visible to the public, thus highlighting some of the work that goes into making such a sustainable building. A digital dashboard is prominently displayed in the central commons and café space that shows energy usage, and information on the building's systems and performance is available to campus visitors via a website and an on-site brochure.
"The R.W. Kern Center at Hampshire College is designed to meet the Living Building Challenge; it achieves net zero energy and water and was built without red list products [materials that contain chemicals designated as harmful to living creatures]," say AIA's judges. "A collaborative and integrated team approach resulted in this being one of the highest performing projects in the country, with a ripple effect across other higher education campuses in the Northeast."