Most of the buildings use geothermal heat pumps, daylighting, shading, natural ventilation, and passive solar heating.

AIA's Committee on the Environment says many of the new buildings were awarded (or are expected to earn) Platinum certification under LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design), the highest level of achievement under the US Green Building Council certification program.

This is the 14th year for the ‘Top Ten Green Projects’, which is the profession's best-known recognition program for sustainable design excellence. The program celebrates projects that are the result of an integrated approach to architecture, natural systems and technology, says AIA.

The designs make a positive contribution to their communities, improve comfort for building occupants and reduce environmental impacts through strategies such as reuse of existing structures, connection to transit systems, low-impact and regenerative site development, energy and water conservation, use of sustainable or renewable construction materials, and design that improves indoor air quality.

The winners

Two of the winners came from outside the United States:

  • Manitoba Hydro Place in Winnipeg (Canada) obtains 65% of its energy by harnessing passive solar, wind and geothermal energy, and consumes 88 kWh/m2 per year to be the most energy efficient large office tower in North America; and
  • King Abdullah University of Science & Technology in Thuwal (Saudi Arabia) supports research in energy and the environment, and the new campus is Saudi Arabia's first LEED certified project and the world's largest LEED Platinum project.

Winning projects in the USA include:

  • Matarozzi/Pelsinger Building in San Francisco, CA
  • City of Watsonville Water Resources Center in CA
  • Kroon Hall at Yale University in New Haven, CT
  • Manassas Park Elementary School in Virginia, VA
  • Michael Homer Science & Student Life Center in Atherton, CA
  • Omega Center for Sustainable Living in Rhinebeck, NY
  • Special No. 9 House in New Orleans, LA
  • Twelve West in Portland

The architects employed radiant heating and cooling, cool roofs, energy efficient appliances and equipment, and evaporative cooling with reclaimed water. Some use recycled materials and green roofs, while others generate renewable energy with solar panels, and one features roof-mounted wind turbines.

The American Institute of Architects was formed 150 years ago to promote valuable, healthy, secure and sustainable buildings and cityscapes.