Each year, the American Institute of Architects and the Committee on the Environment (COTE) choose 10 buildings to be recognized as the most sustainable design buildings. It’s just a bonus that most of these buildings are also awe-inspiring. Here are a few of my favorites from 2017’s winners.
R.W. Kern Center
From Architizer: The exterior of the R.W. Kern Center
Hampshire College’s R.W. Kern Center was named one of the Top Ten sustainable design buildings by COTE. This building is not simply sustainable design, it’s self-sustaining. This 17,000 square foot building produces its own energy, captures its own water, and processes its own waste.
From GreenBuildingAdvisor: The interior of the R.W. Kern Center
The Kern Center is designed to be a multi-purpose facility. It’s home to classrooms, a coffee shop, a gallery space, and faculty offices. All of the materials used to build the Kern Center were local, sustainable, and nontoxic. Check out those gorgeous stairs!
Manhattan Districts 1/2/5 Garage & Spring Street Salt Shed
From Open House New York: The Manhattan Districts 1/2/5 Garage & Spring Street Salt Shed
Who says government infrastructure can’t be sustainable buildings? The Garage and Salt Shed in New York combine sustainability, function, and design all into one building. The 1.5-acre green roof along helps to reduce the heat island effect, improve rainwater retention, and protects the roof membrane.
From National Geographic: The Salt Shed of the New York City Sanitation Department
The salt shed is designed to look like a grain of salt—but it’s more than aesthetics. It can store up to 5,000 tons of material for clearing icy streets. The cubist structure tapers at the bottom to create more space for pedestrians.
Brock Environmental Center
From SmithGroupJJR: Thousands of children visit the Brock Environmental Center each year to learn about sustainability and caring for the environment.
The Brock Environmental Center is the home for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, which focuses on restoring and protecting the Chesapeake Bay. This sustainable design building surpasses the requirements for LEED certification in CO2 emissions, zero waste, and received a Living Building Challenge certificate from the International Living Future Institute.
From ArchDaily: The Brock Environmental Center
The goal of the designers of this sustainable building was to surpass “do no harm” and create a building that has a positive and regenerative impact on the environment around it. Even the aesthetics of this building mirror the landscape around it with sweeping curves and gentle neutral tones.
Discovery Elementary School
From VMDO: A slide inside the Discovery Elementary School
Just imagine if your elementary school had a slide inside. This has to be the coolest school full of bright happy colors. In addition to its cool factor, Discovery Elementary School is also a sustainably designed building. This 98,000 square-foot building is the largest net-zero energy school in the United States.
From VMDO: One of many varied classroom setting at the Discovery Elementary School
The primary goal of the designers was to create a place where kids couldn’t wait to get to in the morning and didn’t want to leave in the evening. The secondary goal was to create a sustainable design building that made a regenerative contribution to the world around it.
From ArchDaily: The exterior of the Stanford University Central Energy Facility
The Stanford University Central Energy Facility replaces an energy center that was 100% fossil fuel based. This new system primarily uses electrical power, 65% of which comes from renewable sources. It also uses a heat recovery system, reducing its greenhouse gas emissions and water use.
From Architectural Record: A green space within the Stanford University Central Energy Facility
This sustainable design building supplies all of the water needed for the rest of the Stanford campus. The waste heat from the chilled water return is recovered to supply 93% of the hot water and heat for the rest of the campus.
As you can see, sustainability and amazing design go hand in hand. Each of these sustainable design buildings shows unique architectural characteristics as well as concern for the surrounding environment. There’s no reason for a sustainable building to be ugly. I hope you enjoyed admiring these award-winning sustainable building as much as I did. Which one was your favorite?