Austin Central Library Named 2020 COTE Top Ten Awards Winner

The Austin Central Library has been named a 2020 AIA Committee on the Environment (COTE) Top Ten Awards winner. The COTE Top Ten Awards from The American Institute of Architects are the industry’s best-known award program for sustainable design excellence.

Each year, ten innovative projects from all over the world are recognized for their integration of design excellence with environmental performance.

Overlooking Shoal Creek and Lady Bird Lake, the Austin Central Library is a building shaped by light and designed to respond to the context of its place.

Since the inception of the project, green building principles were key to the library’s design, which was guided by two primary sustainability goals:

The six-story atrium provides more than 80% of the building’s light. | City of Austin

1. The building would be the most day-lit library in the country. The heart of the building is the six-story atrium, which provides daylight for more than 80 percent of regularly occupied spaces.

2. The building would serve as a water conservation model for buildings in the region. A 373,000-gallon rainwater harvesting system, reused from existing infrastructure, provides water for landscape irrigation, restroom plumbing fixtures, and the landscaped rooftop pollinator garden.

“We are so proud of the City of Austin’s leadership in delivering this jewel to our current and future community members. It is impossible not to be inspired in some way by this deep green building, whether through its joyous connection to nature, embrace of local materials, on-site renewable energy generation, or celebration of natural light,” said Lucia Athens, City of Austin Chief Sustainability Officer.

The Rooftop Garden is irrigated with water from the building’s Rainwater Harvesting System. | City of Austin


The AIA COTE Top Ten Awards recognize ten projects each year that exemplify the integration of design excellence and sustainable performance. Using AIA’s Framework for Design Excellence as the standard against which projects are evaluated, COTE Top Ten awards demonstrate a holistic vision of architecture across all 10 of the framework’s dimensions: a design for integration, community, ecology, water, economy, energy, wellness, resources, change, and discovery.


The City of Austin’s Office of Sustainability works to ensure a thriving, equitable, and ecologically resilient community by providing leadership, influencing positive action through engagement, and creating measurable benefits for Austin.

The Office works to achieve net-zero community-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, a healthy and just local food system, resource-efficient strategies for municipal operations, tangible projects that demonstrate sustainability, and a resilient and adaptive city.


The Public Works Department manages the City of Austin’s Capital Project Delivery through all phases of design, construction, and inspection. Projects range from street reconstruction and water/wastewater infrastructure improvements to new fire stations and libraries.


Austin Public Library is a part of the City of Austin and includes the Central Library, 20 library branches, Recycled Reads book store, and the Austin History Center. The Austin Public Library provides knowledge, technology, and inspiration to over 3.2 million visitors a year.

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