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Nominees for COTE Chairs

The following individuals are running for leadership positions for COTE and will help lead a discussion of the future of BSA COTE. Attendees will vote at the September 9th committee meeting.


Shirine S. Boulos Anderson AIA, LEED AP
Principal, Ellenzweig Architects and Planners

Shirine Boulos Anderson joined Ellenzweig in 1998. She has devoted more than 30 years of practice to developing creative alternatives for physical space and advocating a holistic approach to sustainable design and energy conservation.

Shirine’s vision for COTE:
Architecture, technology, and energy intensive systems, which advanced and developing societies heavily depend on, are at a crossroads, facing critical challenges that will influence the objectives of our professional practice going forward.  My interest in advancing design technology in our field with a particular focus on achieving carbon neutrality in the building sector, is the primary driver in my role as a design principal at Ellenzweig, Architects and Planners in Boston, —a national practice centered on the design of science and health science research and educational facilities for Colleges and Universities.

The imperative for the building sector to dramatically reduce its greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) to the atmosphere is driven by both a large component of the energy sector required to sustain current buildings, and rapid irreversible changes to the climate structure on a time scale set by increasingly potent feedbacks that will affect our environment globally. At the very least, the unleashed chain reaction by GHG “climate forcing” will increase the frequency of violent storms, accelerate sea level rise, and shift drought patterns.  These changes threaten human security, and global economic and urban infrastructures, coastal and otherwise.

While it is difficult to accurately forecast the scale of the challenges lying ahead, it is clear that within the realm of architecture and urban planning, high performance buildings and green cities are critical components of the solution to reducing GHGs. This presents unprecedented design and technological opportunities: blending high performance innovation and functional considerations to create a new architectural aesthetic, and sustainable urban environments.  We, as professionals must lead the way in developing systemic thinking to seamlessly integrate carbon neutrality goals with an articulated architectural and urban design vision. The path to designing innovative high performance buildings entails a fundamental understanding of how to balance the complex requirements of program, “well-building” concepts, energy efficiency, and net-zero ready environments.

The BSA COTE provides a unique framework within which I envision working with the committee members to research and probe the applicability of architectural and urban design solutions, and explore:

  • Emerging and evolving technologies related to energy use and demands of the built environment, bridging to potential academic partners conducting research with applications to building technology;
  • Advocacy of “intelligent” design understanding context, materiality, and the significance and aesthetic of form informed by high performance systems;
  • The development of road maps for carbon neutral communities and cities to enable effective transitions from current models to sustainable ones —I am currently exploring the question of academic campus energy master planning to develop a road map for carbon neutral institutions that can be models for other types of institutions;
  • The elaboration of case studies, publishing and potentially mainstreaming results in the profession.

Blake Jackson AIA, LEED Faculty (running in conjunction with Steven Burke)
Associate/Sustainability Practice Leader, Tsoi/Kobus & Associates

Blake Jackson is a licensed architect, Associate and is the Sustainability Practice Leader with Tsoi/Kobus & Associates in Cambridge, MA. He has over twelve years of experience in retail, hospitality, higher education, healthcare, labs, and commercial structures. Blake plays a critical role in bringing measurable environmental stewardship to TK&A's projects and office management. He earned his B-Arch from Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta, GA and his M-Arch in Sustainable Environmental Design from the Architectural Association Graduate School in London, UK. He has been an active BSA member since 2010 (co-chair of the Sustainability Education Committee), is a prolific writer and presenter (chair of the steering committee for the New England Healthy Materials Summit) and is an adjunct faculty at the Boston Architectural College.

Steven L. Burke, LEED AP BD+C, ID+C (running in conjunction with Blake Jackson AIA)
Sustainability Manager, Symmes, Maini & McKee Associates

Steven is a Sustainability Manager at SMMA, an integrated, multi-disciplinary design and engineering firm.  Steven has guided green building certifications on projects of many different types and sizes, including but not limited to: k-12 schools, higher education facilities, mid-rise and high-rise residential, commercial interiors, retail interiors, and commercial office buildings.  Steven is well-versed in the burgeoning materials transparency movement, and has utilized both his presentations and publications for materials transparency advocacy and education.

Blake and Steven’s vision for COTE:
Steven L. Burke and Blake Jackson are both happy to announce their candidacy as co-chairs for the BSA COTE. Both are highly active members of the BSA community, focusing on promoting sustainable design practices within their offices' projects and corporate responsibility.
They see this election as a critical time within the BSA to reunite the current disparate efforts of several members and sub-committees, all with the same focus, back under the leadership of a unified COTE. Today, there are 7 BSA committees with a sustainability mission. While applauding the culture of awareness, the resultant is poor committee participation, non-active membership, too many competing interests and a general lack of direction regarding sustainability - not the highest and best use of an organization with as much potential as the BSA.
Our vision, while expanding our numbers, is to strengthen COTE through fostering active membership amongst individuals and groups already doing great things in and outside the BSA. We will make COTE a welcoming, "think-tank-inspired" guide for sustainability at the BSA and are amply networked to be able to bring together people, events and ideas under COTE's umbrella. We will bring relevant, timely leadership in the following ways:

  • Reunite all disparate BSA committees with a sustainability focus under a single umbrella - COTE -     which is the most established "brand" in sustainability within the national AIA.
  • New COTE membership would be "active". We currently do many things individually; by bringing everyone under the umbrella, we reinforce/strengthen all our interests/activities. Examples of events currently done outside COTE which could be enhanced by a unified COTE include:
    • The New England Sustainable Design Leaders Network (Local, Regional and National)
    • AIA 2030 reporting(spring)
    • Annual Healthy Materials Summit planning/implementation (fall)
    • Organizing invited guest speakers on new and relevant topics (current purpose, as applicable)
  • Less conflicts/meetings and more active advocacy/action (as timely)
  • Single stop for sustainability lessens confusion for whom to contact regarding sustainability at the BSA, and is enticing to new members who want to be a part of sustainability

If this resonates with you, we would appreciate your vote!

Rebecca Rahmlow AIA, NCARB, LEED AP BD+C
Maryann Thompson Architects

Rebecca Rahmlow is a registered architect and LEED AP BD+C.  She has collaborated on many scales of projects and building types at Architerra, Inc. and Shepley Bulfinch and has most recently joined Maryann Thompson Architects.  She has worked in the academic, healthcare, and most recently, residential sectors.  At Shepley Bulfinch, she helped lead the firm’s 2030 Commitment reporting for 2014.  She received her B-Arch from Carnegie Mellon in 2006 and a Masters of Science in Architectural Studies from MIT in 2008.  Over the past seven years, she has worked on projects ranging from a LEED Platinum university building to a sustainable hospital campus in Papua New Guinea to a panel at the NESEA conference on urban food--and has sought to hone an interdisciplinary focus in whatever role she plays.  She has taught at the Boston Architectural College and is always looking for new opportunities to collaborate on sustainable initiatives and learn from others in the architecture, planning, and construction industry.  


Rebecca’s vision for COTE:
As a designer, I have held a constant theme of sustainability and responsible design in mind in everything I do, despite having worked on a wide variety of projects.  I believe that the key to a healthier and more energy efficient built environment lies in our ability as architects to multitask and apply our problem solving skills to a vast swath of problems—from one small flashing detail to the coastline of a country.  It is the qualities that have made architects excel that we need to employ now more than ever—a willingness to research and experiment, a desire to foster difficult conversations, a fearlessness about outreach and engagement, and most importantly a conviction to drive each of these efforts forward, even when there is not an easy or obvious path.

I see the Boston Society of Architects, and in particular the COTE committee, as very much at the crux of many other groups and in a position to foster interdisciplinary efforts between these groups, and across our discipline’s wide array of work.  It is not enough to focus on one strategy, approach, building type or size as we all influence the sustainability of our built environment, not only as professionals, but also as residents of it.  We need to explore new materials and technology while remaining grounded in the tried and true techniques for passively heating and cooling.  We need to serve as advocates for research and product advancement while also remaining educated critics.  Most importantly, we need to be problem solvers, constant students, and constant educators (of our colleagues, of our clients, and of ourselves), focusing on all scales of sensitivity—from the changing climate and geography of a region, to the planning of our cities, and lastly to the places we inhabit daily—our workplaces, schools, hospitals, and homes.  In collaboration with others, I would love to help shape the future of the COTE committee to make it the conduit for discussions across our field.  Small moves and untraditional meetings have the potential to enliven our discourse and could help this committee engage a broader cross section of our community from landscape architects to planners, to contractors, to students.  I would also love to help raise the prestige of the COTE committee by bringing some of the most exciting ideas in sustainability into the context of our discussions—from the potential of 3D printing to urban food.  Lastly, through participation in this group, I advocate to bring a sustainability-focused speaker series to the BSA in order to showcase and make accessible some of the most thought provoking ideas and professionals setting precedents for our field in Boston and beyond.