COTE Update to Members and Partners

COTE Update to Members and Partners:

2019 will be marked by sustainability actions and opportunities


A lot is happening in the sustainability space and the AIA Pittsburgh Committee on the Environment (COTE) wants to keep our members informed of some landmark events and aware of upcoming opportunities.

At this year’s National Convention, the AIA emphatically stated its position: we are an organization that values sustainability. By an overwhelming majority (4,860 to 312), AIA members approved a resolution for urgent and sustained climate action and called for architects to provide the leadership necessary in our practice. COTE is now forming a Fall series of seminars to help you do this.

Earlier this year, representatives from the City of Pittsburgh, Green Building Alliance, Pittsburgh Innovation District, PJ Dick, and NK Architects were invited by the United Nations Economic Commission of Europe to an international forum on high-performance buildings. During this event, Pittsburgh was designated as the fourth United Nations Center of Excellence for High Performance Building in the world. An international community has charged our region to “catalyze economies” through a combination of design, training, construction, and policy. What an accomplishment for a city that less than 75 years ago was covered in soot!

Now we must respond to these calls for action. The first step is to urge and support our city and regional government to continue to create a sustainable and resilient place to live. County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Mayor Bill Peduto continue to take steps in this direction: The County is poised to adopt CPACE, a financing tool for more energy efficient buildings. One of Mayor Peduto’s first steps was to create an office of Sustainability & Resilience, and more recently, the Office of Equity. AIA Pittsburgh will be working with our local leaders to establish codes, guidelines, and initiatives that propel our region forward.

The second step is to support our membership. COTE will help bring programs, knowledge and tools from our State and National AIA organizations to educate and engage our members. We are currently developing a series of seminars for this Fall on sustainable advocacy, EcoDistricts, materials reuse, CPACE, and building performance simulation. Such knowledge is central to our profession and, as such, we’ll be providing these seminars at a nominal charge for AIA members and partners.

“But what if I need education NOW?” you might ask. As you may know, the Design Pittsburgh submission requirements now include ‘sustainability of the project’ as one of its five judging criteria for all projects. COTE wants to provide you the tools to share your sustainability accomplishments. We are starting by recommending this three-minute YouTube video that will give you a greater understanding of Energy Use Intensity (EUI), a metric for measuring a building’s energy use. You can also ask your building systems engineer to provide EUI, which they should provide for all of your projects. While this tool may not be the right one for all projects, we think it is a good place to start. In the near future we will be offering a seminar on the new COTE Toolkit, which will broader your sustainability knowledge and toolbox.

It is an exciting time to be an architect. We have an opportunity to provide the leadership necessary to leave the world a better place for future generations, while making buildings healthier, safer and more efficient today.

See you in the Fall,

George Rieke, AIA, COTE Co-chair

Christian Pegher, AIA, COTE Co-chair


If you have an interest in the intersection of architecture and the environment / sustainability and resilience, consider joining the COTE! We generally meet the 4th Tuesday of each month at 4pm at the AIA Office. If interested please reach out to