Weeding through more than 700 submissions, the AIA has named the recipients of its 2014 Honor Awards, and the list of winners showcases should be of interest to green building professionals. Among the 26 winners are a range of sustainable design strategies, so you really should click through to check out all of the winners in each project category: Architecture; Regional/Urban Design; and Interior Architecture, not to mention the individual practitioners named as honorees. To whet your whistle, though, here's five cool sustainable lessons we found among the winners:

1. One project can be a springboard to larger efforts.

The Denver Union Station Neighborhood Transformation from SOM integrates transit-oriented development with a historic train station, which isn't that uncommon nowadays, but the project is also the catalyst to a much larger transition for the city's downtown. It's a public transit bonanza that's got to have an effectI think a positive oneon the transportation footprints of city residents going forward.

 

2. Get creative with materials.

We've reported on the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust from Belzberg Architects before, but seeing it come up again reminds us how playing around with traditional building materials can lead to beautiful solutions that don't compromise on performance. Still not convinced? Check out HM White's work on the green roof and public spaces of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. It's drool-worthy:


Credit: © Albert Vecerka | Esto


3. You have to love a good challenge and recognize that it doesn't automatically mean you can't build sustainably.

Renovation can be tricky and airports provide a range of challenges. So what happens when you set out to update an existing airport that happens to be located in the middle of a national park. Well, check out Gensler's Jackson Hole Airport Renovation and Expansion. And speaking of transit-oriented projects and constraints, while you're at it check our ZGF Architects' work on the LEED Platinum upgrade to Seattle's historic King Street Station.



4. There's often really cool stuff going on behind the scenes.

Last August, we wrote about BubbleDeck technology that aims to reduce the weight of a concrete slab and thus the amount of concrete used (without compromising strength or structural integrity), so it's cool to see it pop up as a element of KPMB's work on the Center for International Governance and Innovation Campus in Ontario, Canada.

5. All buildings are living entities, which means there's always room for improvement.

Bar Agriole by Aidlin Darling Design should look familiar by this point, especially if you look at the building where the LEED Platinum-certified restaurant lives. The original structure, the Matarozzi/Pelsinger building grace one of our past print covers and the design team won an AIA COTE Top Ten Green Project nod for its efforts in renovating an existing warehouse building into a vibrant mixed use offering. But the project didn't stop there: In the years that followed, the building continued to flesh out its offerings, and sustainability remains a top priority. Those efforts earned it another AIA nod: The inaugural AIA COTE Top Ten Plus award last year, the first of its kind to recognize past winners for on-going performance.

What else can you learn from this year's winners? We think there's a lot there, so dig in by moseying over to AIA's master list of this year's top honors.