National Spotlight on Sustainable Design

Local Project Wins AIA COTE Top Ten Award

By Becky Spevack Posted on May 12, 2016

The Center for Sustainable Landscapes at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is a recipient of the 2016 AIA COTE Top Ten Green Projects Award. Conceived as a building that provides both a home for administrative and classroom functions, as well as a tool to further the institution’s mission “to advance sustainability and promote human and environmental well-being through action and research,” the concept and design brought together many Pittsburgh- and Pennsylvania-based firms to create this skillfully crafted solution. Designed by The Design Alliance Architects, the project team also included Andropogon Associates, Ltd., evolveEA, 7group, Massaro Corporation, Civil and Environmental Consultants, Atlantic Engineering Services and CJL Engineering. Other team members included Turner Construction, Indevco, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Pittsburgh, and...

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Steps Towards Sustainability

Introducing the COTE Intensives

By Marc Mondor, AIA, LEED Faculty Posted on October 16, 2014

AIA Pittsburgh, with its Committee on the Environment (COTE), is presenting a new series entitled COTE Intensives. These lectures/workshops are designed to dive deeply into various sustainability topics of interest. We’ve listened as our members told us the sustainability topics that are of interest to them, focused our efforts, and are now able to present a program that delivers this content. You may be aware that the AIA Pittsburgh COTE delivered the AIA+2030 Series from May 2013 to April 2014. This content-rich series described how to demand, design, deliver, and operate energy efficient and net-zero buildings. The approach for every session has been to seek and deliver expert content, and then view the principles through the lens of case studies, occasional exercises,...

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Rising to the Challenge

The AIA+2030 Professional Series, Session X Review

By Melanie Como Harris, AIA, LEED AP BD+C Posted on May 4, 2014

AIA Pittsburgh’s first ever AIA+2030 Series concluded on Thursday, April 24th. The series finale – Putting It All Together: Achieving 2030 Goals on the Project and at the Office – answered a question that has been gestating throughout the series: how do we apply what we’ve learned? As COTE committee chair Marc Mondor, AIA appropriately pointed out in his introduction, we have to figure out how to take the multitude of tools and strategies we have absorbed during the 36 hours thus far in the series and incorporate them into each of our practices. Session X offered a few ways to do just that. Presentations featured: a local case study that demonstrated many of the 2030 strategies, an expert that...

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Rising to the Challenge

The AIA+2030 Professional Series, Session VIII Review

By Melanie Como Harris, AIA, LEED AP Posted on March 18, 2014

The focus of Session VIII of the AIA+2030 Educational Series was alternative energy sources. Taking place on February 20th, the session – Site Power: Renewable Energy Opportunities – was jam-packed with industry experts in geothermal heating & cooling, biomass, wind, and solar. Each presentation not only described, in detail, how each system works, it also addressed the potential applicability to projects in Southwestern PA. The evening’s first presentation was provided by Marc Portnoff of Thar Geothermal. Marc started off the presentation by comparing and contrasting ground source geothermal against traditional energy sources such as natural gas, coal-fired electricity, and nuclear energy. According to the US EPA, “ground source geothermal is the most energy-efficient, environmentally clean and cost effective space conditioning...

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Rising to the Challenge

The AIA+2030 Professional Series, Session VII Review

By Melanie Como Harris, AIA, LEED AP Posted on February 17, 2014

In past sessions of the AIA+2030 Educational Series, we explored strategies such as passive ventilation systems, high performance building envelopes, and daylighting design to reduce energy loads in our buildings. Session VII demonstrated that the next logical step in energy-efficient design is reducing the size of the mechanical system itself. This session – Right-Sized: Equipment and Control for Super-Efficient Building Systems – provided valuable insight into the process mechanical engineers use to determine equipment size. By understanding that process, architects can facilitate mechanical equipment selection and further load reduction.  The discussion began with a presentation from a group at Allen & Shariff. David Price, PE, Chris Drummond, PE, Heather Stapel, PE, and Mark Wolfgang, PE, set the tone with the...

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Rising to the Challenge

The AIA+2030 Professional Series, Session VI Review

By Melanie Como Harris, LEED AP Posted on January 15, 2014

Another enlightening session of AIA Pittsburgh’s AIA+2030 Educational Series took place in November: Session VI – Illuminating Savings: Daylighting and Integrated Lighting Strategies. As promised, the night featured a series of experts defining good daylighting. They offered resources for useful design tools and demonstrated how these strategies improve the design while reducing energy consumption.  The evening began with the Astorino team of Director of Digital Practice, Brian Skripac, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP BD+C, and Sustainable Design Manager, Rudy Marnich, MArch, LEED AP BD+C. Brian talked about the difference between sunlight and daylight. While sunlight is just the rays of the sun, daylight is actually a manipulation of that light. Quality daylight, Skripac says, is a layered illumination plan that provides...

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Feature

The 2030 Challenge

Buildings, Energy, and Climate Change

By Marc Mondor, AIA, LEED Faculty Posted on April 7, 2013

IT’S ABOUT ENERGY As a species the exploration for, and generation and transmission of energy is by far the most environmentally destructive thing that humans do. Yet the reason we perform this operation with such zeal lies in the fact that we are an energy-hungry species. Energy demand is not only at all-time highs, but will continue to grow. Even if we mentally outsource energy or are focused on living wirelessly, we are all a part of this system. We are an integral part of our nation’s, and indeed our planet’s, voracious appetite for energy. IT’S GOOD TO SAVE The environmental imperative for saving energy comes in the reduction of emissions from the combustion of fuels. According to the U.S....

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