Which is worse: (a) one lawyer in a room of one hundred architects; or (b) one architect in a room of one hundred lawyers? 

Two weeks ago I found myself in the first category (… although I’m sure that I was not the only shark in the room …) at a local United States Green Building Council (USGBC) meeting that featured the "2009 Top Ten Green Projects" awarded by the American Institute of Architect (AIA) Committee on the Environment (COTE). In case you don’t know, every year COTE highlights the top green projects based upon the measures of sustainable design.  According to COTE, "Sustainability envisions the enduring prosperity of all living things … [and] … [s]ustainable design seeks to create communities, buildings, and products that contribute to this vision."  The measures of sustainable design include, among others, design and innovation, land use & site ecology, materials & construction, and energy flows & energy future.

The "Top Ten" from 2009 may be old news to many of you.  However, it is worth mentioning here because of the AIA / USGBC comparison that was highlighted in the 2009 presentation:

As you can see, the COTE Top Ten Measures go a few steps beyond the LEED rating system.  According to the speakers a few weeks ago, Henry Siegel and Kim Shinn (both were judges on the 2009 Top Ten panel), the COTE measures include both quantitative and qualitative measures (or "intangibles").  In the presentation above, the measures highlighted in yellow on the left are those areas not fully addressed by USGBC’s LEED rating system. 

(… DON’T JUMP THE GUN, USGBC!… I am not done yet…)  This presentation was based upon the LEED v 2.2 criteria … and not LEED 2009, which now addresses some of those areas included in COTE’s Top Ten Measures (i.e., regional credits, future energy performance).  For the green-building newbie, the Top Ten Green Projects is a good starting point for seeing various sustainable measures carried out in actual building projects … with cool pictures, too!

[NOTE: The full presentation can be found on AIA-COTE’s website … about halfway down on the left.]

UPDATE (8-1-09): Thanks to Michael at www.buildinggreen.com, who pointed out that Henry Siegel is past chair of AIA COTE and is currently a committee member. He was not a judge on the panel this year.