The American Institute of Architects San Diego

Committee On The Environment.


The AIA Committee on the Environment (COTE) works to advance, disseminate, and advocate — to the profession, the building industry, the academy, and the public—design practices that integrate built and natural systems and enhance both the design quality and environmental performance of the built environment. COTE serves as the community and voice on behalf of AIA architects regarding sustainable design and building science and performance.

COTE reflects the profession’s commitment to provide healthy and safe environments for people and is dedicated to preserving the earth’s capability of sustaining a shared high quality of life. The committee’s mission is to lead and coordinate the profession’s involvement in environmental and energy-related issues and to promote the role of the architect as a leader in preserving and protecting the planet and its living systems.

COTE provides the AIA with knowledge about environmental issues and advises the Institute on environmental policy matters affecting the practice of architecture. The committee supports cooperation with educators and institutions of learning, manufacturers, government agencies, environmental organizations, and industry groups in advancing environmentally sound design processes and standards as well as environmentally innovative materials.

We typically meet once a month on the 3rd Thursday at 5:30, at the AIA San Diego office (233 A St. Suite 200). Sign up for e-mail list to receive updates.

If you have questions about the committee, the committee’s current projects, or if you’d like to get involved, please contact us at

May 2017 Agenda

Sign up for COTE emails here:




Outreach and Collaboration

SD-COTE works to collaborate with the city, the public and professional organizations to build upon synergies, share knowledge and project ideas, and coordinate volunteer efforts within the San Diego region.  Our recent work within the Mission Beach, Pacific Beach, and Mission Bay Park communities is indicative of what we can achieve in other San Diego communities, and we look forward working with new city, public and building professionals to realize a network of EcoDistricts within the region.

Past meetings and presentations

November’s meeting kicked off the holidays with an informal social hour for SD AIA COTE and friends at Amplified Ale Works in Pacific Beach. This is a great way to show our continued support of the local Pacific Beach EcoDistrict – a portion of sales of the PB Pathway Wit will be donated to Phase 2 of the PB Pathways, a network of safe active transportation routes within the EcoDistrict. The PB Pathway Wit is a mosaic dry-hopped, hibiscus witbier, crafted by a collaboration between Amplified Ale Works and Karl Strauss Brewing Company.

PB Pathway Wit

Info session for the USGBC ADVANCE Program was held on September 22nd, in coordination with the USGBC. ADVANCE is a framework to increase access to resources and expertise for new, underserved and underrepresented audiences. ADVANCE is built to meet organizations and communities wherever they are on the path to sustainability and assist them along that path. Through a series of launch events and follow-through activities, community partner organizations work collaboratively with the USGBC community to advance energy, resource and health performance in the places they occupy. The local SD AIA COTE supports the USGBC’s local ADVANCE programs.

EcoDistricts – How communities in San Diego are taking a grassroots initiative towards sustainability held on June 23rd, in coordination with the ULI San Diego-Tijuana Chapter. Panel discussion led by moderator Danielle Buttacavoli, including panelists Paulina Lis (San Diego USGBC Executive Director), Chris Olson (Development Committee Chair, the Pacific Beach Planning Group), Kristen Victor (Director of Sustainability Matters), and Walker Wells (Director of the Green Urbanism Program for Global Green).

Neuroscience + Architecture held on April 28th, with a discussion led by presenter Alison Whitlaw, FAIA,LEED BD&C.
AIA COTE_NeuroArch

Water Resilience for San Diego held on February 24th, with a lively discussion led by presenters Robert Thiele, AIA, and Barbara Bradley, PE.

Neighborhood Greenways

SD-COTE has teamed with a non-profit community organization in Pacific Beach, beautifulPB, to promote pedestrian and bicycle safety. SD-COTE is assisting the coordination of a preliminary neighborhood greenway network for Pacific Beach, named PB Pathways, that will include pavement markings and crosswalk murals. These markings and murals can highlight areas of the road where there are a high number of children cross a street to/from school. Road markings, in addition to crosswalks and stop signs, are an added gesture to drivers to slow their vehicles and be more alert to yield to pedestrians and cyclists. SD-COTE and the Pacific Beach community finished the first crosswalk mural in September 2014!

SD-COTE with beautifulPB and community members, painting the crosswalk mural at Diamond St and Haines St

SD-COTE with beautifulPB and community members, painting the crosswalk mural at Diamond St and Haines St

The second crosswalk mural finished in December 2014! The artwork for these murals is provided by a student design competition held by the local school – the student who wins the competition then works with local artists to refine the artwork for the crosswalk painting.

SD-COTE with beautifulPB and community members, painting the crosswalk mural at Felspar St and Haines St.

SD-COTE with beautifulPB and community members, painting the crosswalk mural at Felspar St and Haines St.

For information, please visit

Connect PB

SD-COTE teamed with Crowdbrite, beautifulPB, CirculateSD, and the San Diego Foundation to organize an interactive community forum for gathering feedback related to mobility, whether by foot, pedal, car, bus, or train. The community meeting in August 2014 demonstrated strong support for improving mobility for pedestrians and cyclists, and to establish a better link between the community and public transportation. To learn more about the workshop and community comments, visit

ConnectPB workshop with projections of live community website polls

ConnectPB workshop with projections of live community website polls


SD-COTE aims to work with several local community groups to define, coordinate, and implement projects at a variety of scales to achieve sustainability at the neighborhood level. Click here to view a video of our efforts.

We strive to address the following challenges:
– Environmental: Water quality/quantity, flooding and drought, transit and land use, energy efficiency, wildlife habitat/wetlands
– Social: Public spaces, sense of community/ place, pedestrian/bicycle options
– Economic: Revitalization, traffic congestion, transportation

In June 2013, COTE coordinated a community town hall with the local Mission Beach, Pacific Beach, Mission Bay Park communities, with one of the founders of COTE, Bob Berkebile as the keynote speaker. Click here to view Bob’s presentation. Approximately 300 members of the community were present, along with several political leaders. The positive response from the community and political leaders reinforced our commitment to assist communities in achieving sustainability at the neighborhood level.

Consequently, members of SD-COTE, accompanied by members of beautifulPB and City of San Diego staff, were selected by the EcoDistricts organization to attend the EcoDistrict Incubator event representing Pacific Beach in May 2014. The team was able to attend due to funding by BNIM Architects, Burkett & Wong Engineers, Sustainability Matters, and the City of San Diego. The team currently works with SD-COTE and beautifulPB to implement the EcoDistrict model in Pacific Beach. If you are interested in becoming involved, please attend one of our meetings to learn more.

For more information related to EcoDistricts, visit

Sustainable Design Assessment Team Coordination

At the end of 2013, COTE worked with the AIA SDAT (Sustainable Design Assessment Team) to perform community outreach, coordinate with stakeholders, assess and recommend strategies for a more sustainable community. For a copy of the SDAT presentation, click here, for a copy of the SDAT report, click here.

SDAT report

SDAT report

Please click on the SDAT member name to view their presentation: Tom Liebel, Ed Starkie, Paula Reeves, Steven Cecil, Adam Beck, Steve Benz, Taryn Sabia.

And thanks to Chris Giles for the videos to document these events!

COTE Award Research and Design Award Feedback

AIA COTE works to assemble information on national and local COTE Top Ten Award recipients, and research new projects to nominate for future COTE Top Ten Awards.


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Upcoming Events

  1. Tour: BioMed Realty Trust – i3 Campus

    January 25 @ 11:30 am - 1:00 pm