AIA's Committee on the Environment (COTE) Top Ten Green Projects program “celebrates structures that use a thoroughly integrated approach to architecture, natural systems, and technology to provide architectural solutions which protect and enhance the environment.” Entries are considered for the following factors: design and innovation, integration with the community, land use and effect on site ecology, bioclimatic design, energy and water use, approach to light and air, materials and construction, long-life considerations, and feedback loops.
We were pleased that our Keeling Apartments at the University of California at San Diego was named among the top ten this year.
This was an example of a relatively large scale student dorm that had an opportunity to really break some important ground in terms of water performance and has an onsite black and grey water treatment facility. The opportunity for buildings to begin to establish some new thresholds and new frontier territory at a scale which has relevance and importance both regionally and beyond is something that is an important signifier of a value to the profession. And beginning to cast the trajectory in a way that is responding to some significant regional and global challenges, in this case is water. So water in a way was a really prominent story and that was buttressed in this case with having a business case showing that the cost of doing this onsite black and grey water treatment was actually less expensive than the conventional approach to plug into the grid. That is also quite compelling in terms of the pattern of connectedness to utilities that we really need to be viewing as the future of our utility and resource dependency.
We also liked that it managed to naturally ventilate the apartments even though it is pretty far south in San Diego. So the avoidance of the systems through the design of the façade and considering what was actually needed.
That was amplified by the single loaded corridor, which I would say is moving away from a standard design plan.
The project also had a clear approach to solar orientation that came through in the development of the different elevations which was pretty strong.