Holcim Awards Recognize Top Eco Projects

Can people-focused designs also make better use of our natural resources? The Holcim International Award says “yes,” and for the third year in a row put its money where its mouth is, handing out $300,000 in prizes to a variety of projects from across the U.S. and Canada at it North American awards ceremony this year in Washington, D.C.

The Holcim Gold Award went to the regional food-gathering nodes and logistics network Arctic Food Network, in Iqaluit, in the far-north Canadian territory Nunavut. This network helps to secure mobility between scattered Inuit communities, allows for improved distribution of local foods and serves as a series of bases for the reinforcement of traditional hunting practices. The infrastructure project by Lateral Office/InfraNet Lab based in Toronto and Princeton, N.J., is also said to establish new foundations for a sustainable, more independent economy. It took the top prize of $100,000.

image via Arctic Food Network/Holcim Foundation

The Holcim Silver Award went to a design for a two-level net zero energy certified school building to be constructed on multiple campuses throughout Los Angeles. This project uses “off-the shelf” components and modular panels to create a pre-fabricated system that features a double-layered façade for solar, acoustic, and environmental control that achieves a climate-responsive solution for each site. The project was applauded by the jury for its thoroughly developed and comprehensively presented design, led by architects at Swift Lee Office, which “manages the integration of a coherent technical and structural concept, yet retains spatial and conceptual simplicity.”

The Holcim Bronze Award went to Julie Snow Architects of Minneapolis for a border control station on the U.S. frontier to Canada at Van Buren, Maine. The approach meets “a range of stringent regulations for safety, operation and durability” while creating what the judges termed a “highly aesthetic structure” marking the national frontier. A net zero net energy profile – a challenge in Maine’s harsh climate, as well as in this remote location, especially considering the facility’s demand for energy 24 hours a day – was achieved through a combination of ground source heating and cooling, a solar wall to temper outside ventilation air, a ground-coupled heat pump, peaking biodiesel boilers, LED lights and lighting control systems to reduce fossil fuel consumption.

Other projects received acknowlegdments from among the total of 1600 entries received. More information is available online.

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Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.