The American Institute of Architects Committee on the Environment (AIA COTE) has announced its Top Ten Plus list of the greenest buildings of 2013. What stands out this year is that it wasn’t just green building technology that put these buildings on the list, but the community impact of specific buildings. Several of the winning buildings were redevelopments of abandoned brownfield sites, such as the Pearl Brewery and the Federal Central South building. Other winners engaged closely with their occupants in a special way, whether they were seniors, in the case of the Merritt Crossing Senior Apartments, or children, in the case of the Marin Country Day School. This year's winners displayed a holistic excellence that encompassed much more than just the technical aspects of green building.
The Yin Yan House is a nearly net-zero energy live/work home and office in Venice, California. A very tight building envelope reduces energy demand by more than 50 percent. And a 12-kW solar system produces 100 percent of the home and office’s electricity needs. The design maximizes its location in a mild, marine climate with a passive cooling strategy using cross-ventilation and a thermal chimney. A large cantilevered roof overhang shades all the bedrooms from direct sunlight while providing ample natural light and ventilation.
The new Civil Engineering building at the University of Minnesota Duluth is a two-story structure wrapped around double-height laboratories. It showcases structural and mechanical processes and storm water management techniques as a teaching tool. Storm water management was a key ecological consideration and elements of the storm water management system became prominent features articulating building processes and fostering understanding of sustainable design.
The city of San Francisco set high standards for this new administrative building for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. The design team also focused on creating the healthiest, most effective and comfortable work environment for occupants. On-site black water treatment meets all of the project’s non-potable water needs. The building is designed to achieve LEED Platinum certification and will exceed California’s recently instituted Title 24 requirements for energy efficiency in new office buildings by 55 percent, according to SFPUC estimates.
After 15 years of neglect, this creative re-use of a 26-acre brownfield site and its neglected structures in San Antonio, Texas is drawing in a rich mix of new residents, small businesses, retail and non-profits. It emphasizes community, conservation and local economic development. The goal of the redevelopment was to create a sustainable destination that maintained the identity of the historic brewery while radically repurposing key parts of the compound. The LEED-Gold Full Goods Warehouse is one of the jewels of the Pearl Brewery redevelopment.
This apartment project in Oakland, California transforms an abandoned site near a busy freeway into a community asset for disadvantaged or formerly homeless seniors while setting a high standard for sustainable and universal design. This project remarkably achieved several certifications simultaneously, including LEED for Home Mid-Rise Pilon Program (Platinum Level), Build it Green GreenPoints (206 points), Energy Star Rated Building (making it the first certified in California) and Bay Friendly Landscaping (104 points).
The Marin Country Day School’s Strategic Plan calls for makin ecological literacy an integral part of its curriculum and reinforcing students’ connection to nature. The project, which is located in Corte Madera, California, restores the watershed’s seasonal stream, replacing concrete swales with rockwork and riparian landscaping. And it maximizes storm water and water efficiency strategies to demonstrate the water cycle within a complete watershed, creating amenities that are now some of the students’ favorite places.
This General Services Administration project, funded by the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, transforms a 4.6-acre brownfield site in Seattle into a highly-flexible and sustainable 209,000-square-foot regional headquarters for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the Northwest District. The optimized form, systems and building orientation place the building within the top 1 percent of energy-efficient buildings across the country. It has earned an ENERGY STAR score of 100 and complies with 2030 Challenge Goals.
The developer of this mixed-use project in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, wanted a radically sustainable building that followed the Living Building Challenge and met the quadruple bottom line of economic improvement, social justice, environmental restoration and cultural celebration. The building conserves energy and water, manages a majority of the storm water onsite, promotes local urban gardens with its community garden on the roof and 30 percent of it is built with salvaged materials.
This student housing building for the University of California San Diego campus is named after the scientist whose research first alerted the world to the possibility of the human impact on global atmospheric carbon. The building envelope uses thermal mass to buffer temperature changes, minimizes solar gain and naturally ventilates the interior. And the project employs onsite wastewater recycling, a first for the UC system.
A New Norris House by Tricia Stuth, Robert C. French
The New Norris House was conceived of and created by its design team to mark the 75th anniversary of the original Norris Project, an affordable housing scheme in Norris, Tennessee from the New Deal era. Right-sizing is at the heart of this winning project, reducing material and operational loads and costs and shifting funds to quality design and construction, passive strategies and high-efficiency systems. The New Norris House is compact at 1008 square feet. It is well insulated, with R-29.5 walls, R-24 roof, and R-24 crawlspace and it is air-tight.
355 11th Street: the Matarozzi/Pelsinger Multiuse Building by Aidlin Darling Design
This project is a LEED-NC Gold adaptive re-use of a historic and previously derelict turn-of-the-century industrial building in San Francisco. It is a mixed-use project that houses a LEED-CI Platinum restaurant on the ground floor. The project’s sustainable strategies include solar energy harvesting, a green roof and natural ventilation. It’s most interesting feature is a new exterior skin, which is perforated to allow light and air to pass through new operable windows beyond. It mitigates solar heat gain while enabling cross-ventilation of the interior.