Design Awards: Common App Submission Requirements + Technical Review

Design Awards: Common App Submission Requirements + Technical Review

AIA San Francisco’s annual Design Awards program recognizes outstanding architectural design in built and unbuilt project categories. The program also recognizes the urgency of climate action given the broad impacts the built environment places on both people and planet.

For these reasons, AIASF has adopted AIA CA’s “Common App” as part of the submission requirements to help identify how each project responds to these issues. Successful awardees will need to demonstrate an increasingly comprehensive design approach – one that is broad and inclusive, and goes beyond building aesthetics and performance. Exemplary designs should also address issues including resilience, ecological stewardship and equity, revealing the designer’s skill and creativity in balancing multiple formal, functional, social and technical requirements.

Completing the Common App with metrics and narrative information about your submission will give the jury a better understanding of your design approach and basic building performance metrics. Download the Common App, complete it, and upload the document with your submission. Please be sure to download the current version (2023v1) of the Common App to avoid possible issues with the Jury review: Common App

Common App Webinar

Join AIA San Francisco’s Committee on the Environment (COTE) for a conversation around the submission requirements for the Common App component in AIASF’s Design Awards program, and the technical review of the Common App that all entries will undergo.

The session is led by COTE co-chairs Mark Kelly, AIA, and Charlie Stott, AIA, with Vaclav Hasik of Building Transparency, and includes audience Q+A.


Please Note:

  • In addition to the Design Awards jury, each submission will be reviewed by a technical panel to assess how the project addresses the various Common App categories, and how clearly the design approach is communicated via the narratives. Providing incorrect information or failing to provide information will result in a lower technical review score.
  • To learn more about how to complete the Common App, please view the educational Webinar from AIA California:
  • The Common App is aligned with the 10 principles of the AIA’s Framework for Design Excellence – a platform that helps designers evaluate progress toward a zero carbon, equitable, resilient and healthy built environment. The Design Excellence website includes questions listed under each of the 10 principles that can help you with writing the mandatory narratives requested in the Common App:
  • When filling out the Measure 6 – Design for Energy section, please ensure that you are entering the correct information for the EUI (Energy Use Intensity) prompts under the Energy Performance section. This information can be obtained from project energy models or LEED documentation. If you use CA Title-24 Compliance data, you will need to translate the T-24 info into a useable Common App EUI number (since T-24 uses “time dependent valuation” in its energy use calculation). Check with your T-24 engineer, or use the EUI Converter located on the AIA CA website:
  • For Interior Architecture and Unbuilt projects, if you do not have building performance data to share, do not leave the Common App field blank. Mark “Not Available” in the fields as needed. While unavailable metrics for your Unbuilt or Interior Architecture design may be noted, completing all the descriptive and strategy narratives is still required to ensure the jury understands your approach. All built projects must provide performance data and narratives where requested on the Common App.