Today, we can finally announce some exciting news: Market One earned the COTE Top Ten Award. Each year, the Committee on the Environment (COTE), an American Institute of Architects (AIA) committee, recognizes ten projects from around the country for their commitment to sustainable design excellence. These projects are as beautiful as they are energy–efficient, and we are proud to say Market One has been recognized as such.
Meeting the criteria of the COTE Top Ten Award was not an easy feat. During the design of Market One, the Neumann Monson team found innovative ways to balance historic preservation with sustainable design practices. At the same time, ensuring energy efficiency through extreme Iowa weather proved difficult. Despite these challenges, Market One proves that sustainability does not mean sacrifice. Historic preservation, beautiful design, and energy efficiency can all work in tandem—even in the heart of the Midwest.
The COTE Top Ten Awards
According to the AIA, urban buildings account for nearly 40% of greenhouse gas emissions. While some green initiatives have become common architecture practices, most do not go far enough in promoting sustainability. Through innovative design, we can produce self-sufficient, carbon–neutral buildings. Initiatives like COTE help incentivize sustainable design while creating new measures for architectural excellence.
For the COTE Top Ten Awards, projects are judged against ten criteria. These criteria encourage design solutions that reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions while leaving a lasting, positive impact on the community. All phases of the building project—from design to construction to long-term maintenance—are taken into consideration. For example, the building should source responsible, low-carbon-impact materials and produce on-site, renewable energy. The design should also be adaptable, both for new uses and a changing climate. Sustainability means thinking about long-term implications, and COTE Top Ten recipients are buildings that can be enjoyed for generations.
The Market One Proposal
We began the project as we always do by listening to the client’s needs and creating innovative solutions. Blackbird Investments purchased property in Des Moines’ Market District, a neglected industrial neighborhood, seeing the potential in the building and the surrounding area. With a proposed green belt, pedestrian trail, and Amtrack station passing through the neighborhood in the city’s master plan, the Market District was an ideal location for urban revitalization.
Blackbird chose a turn-of-the-century building that originally served as the offices and manufacturing center for the Advance Rumely Thresher Company. The team planned to convert the building into 54,948 square feet of commercial space while maintaining the building’s historic character and significance. At the same time, they wanted to set an example for future development by adhering to sustainable design practices. For Neumann Monson and our engineering partners, the challenge was clear: adhere to the National Park Service’s historic preservation guidelines while earning a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum Status.
Balancing Historic Preservation and Sustainability
During the design and construction of Market One, the design team utilized several techniques to balance sustainable development with historic preservation. To reduce waste and preserve the character, 97.79% of the existing building and its materials were reused during construction. The team maintained the building’s original infrastructure and masonry and repurposed other original materials. For example, the former freight elevator shaft was converted into an open stairwell; an area of the building that once transported machinery found a new life transporting Market One’s tenants.
At the same time, the design incorporated features like solar panels, geothermal heating and cooling systems, and a ground-sourced variable refrigerant flow (VRF) system, which allows energy to be transported efficiently through fluid in piping rather than large air ducts. Since air ducts were not part of the original building’s character, eliminating them was more historically accurate and preserved an open and uncluttered interior. These systems needed to run efficiently as historic preservation guidelines prevented the team from adding modern windows or additional insulation. Ultimately, investments in high-performance technology paid off, helping contribute to Market One’s LEED Platinum status and its near Net Zero energy performance.
Pushing Sustainable Design Excellence
Market One demonstrates the possibilities of sustainable architecture. In response to the project’s success, Neumann Monson architect Lyndley Kent states, “Market One shows clients and design professionals how to drive positive change—that you can preserve historic construction and get the building to perform well.” By prioritizing both historic preservation and high-performance design, we hope to create an enduring impact on the environment and the Des Moines community, driving positive change for generations to come. As we take on new projects, we will continue to make sustainability a top priority. We are thrilled and honored that the design community has recognized this project, and we thank our construction and development partners who made it possible.