While some businesses move toward LEED certified buildings, there are still many other organizations choosing to renovate their current structures to be more environmentally-friendly. Through installing solar panels, capturing stormwater runoff and re-purposing materials, some of these projects received one of the highest honors within the architecture industry:  the Committee on the Environment (COTE) Top 10 Award, issued by the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

AIA, which has been doing this for 18 years, revealed its top 10 list on Earth Day. Buildings that made this competitive list will be recognized at the AIA 2014 National Convention and Design Exposition next month in Chicago, according to the organization’s press release.

“The program celebrates projects that are the result of a thoroughly integrated approach to architecture, natural systems and technology,” the statement reads. “They make a positive contribution to their communities, improve comfort for building occupants and reduce environmental impacts through strategies such as reuse of existing structures, connection to transit systems, low-impact and regenerative site development, energy and water conservation, use of sustainable or renewable construction materials, and design that improves indoor air quality.”

Many projects on the list include new construction, like the U.S. Land Port of Entry in Warroad, Minnesota or the John and Frances Angelos Law Center at the University of Baltimore in Maryland. However, one recipient in particular of the COTE award stands out: the Wayne N. Aspinall Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Grand Junction, Colorado.

What makes this particular project special is that the Aspinall Federal Building has been around since 1918, making it one of the oldest structures in the United States. Instead of creating a new facility to accommodate more employees and visitors, local designers Beck Group with Westlake Reed Leskoksy were able to create the first Net-Zero Energy facility that is on the National Register, a local CBS affiliate reported.

The architects were able to completely preserve the building’s interior spaces when the new heating and electrical systems were installed. Grand Junction City Community Services Coordinator Kristen Ashbeck told the news source that this successful project “can set some precedent for people of what you can do to save an old building.”

“It also can set a precedent for new construction on the energy sustainability aspects of it,” she said.

All 10 recipients proved their value to sustainable design, AIA and the environment, but this particular site shows that business owners shouldn’t be so quick to abandon a building to implement green office solutions. It takes a little more time to retrofit a space to have up-to-date amenities, but the end result is worth the wait.

Companies that are looking to incorporate environmental office design into their commercial space, but are unsure if they can afford the cost of the renovations, should consider used office furnishings.

These additions will bring huge savings and don’t require additional assembly. The items in Quality Office Liquidations’ showroom have been thoroughly vetted for long-term use, giving business owners the most out of their furniture investment.