Truly Green

For the Cesar Chavez Library in Tuscon, the firm Line and Space, LLC used earth berms to create thermal mass and regulate interior temperatures.

The onset of Earth Day this week has seen a spike in the ever-increasing barrage of news surrounding all things “green.” With just about everyone glomming on to the ecological bandwagon—and with so many projects and products marketing themselves as the next best thing to save the earth—it can be hard to separate the wheat from the chaff. Which is why the announcement on Tuesday of the COTE 2008 Top Ten Green Projects was so refreshing amidst all this eco-overload.

Each year, the American Institute of Architect’s Committee on the Environment (COTE) uses a rigorous set of standards to evaluate sustainable projects around the country. Jurors not only consider design innovation and sustainable strategies, they also measure the buildings against a set of metrics, including carbon emissions, functionality, regional context, and resource conservation. The COTE website outlines the research that went into realizing each structure, and offers a wealth of information about everything from financing and program planning to site selection and interior design.

Many of the projects include progressive water conservation technologies, a topic that we’ve been focusing on here at Metropolis: Next week, we announce the winner of the 2008 Next Generation Design Competition, which has the theme of “water.”  Metropolis Editor-in-Chief Susan Szenasy will highlight the winners during a 6:00 pm lecture on Thursday, May 15 at the  AIA 2008 National Convention and Design Exposition in Boston. The COTE winners will also be honored at the convention, which runs through May 19.

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A recycled stone aqueduct funnels rainwater from the roof of the Aldo Leopold Legacy Center in Cedarburg, WI. Design by Kubala Washatko Archtiects Inc. Photo by Mark F. Heffron.

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Site harvested cherry and maple finish the interior of the Aldo Leopold Legacy Center. Plaster walls throughout the interior are constructed of local sand, clay, and straw, while clerestory windows supply lots of natural light.

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