Sarah Nettleton has been elevated to FAIA

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Sarah Nettleton has been elevated to FAIA

Sarah Nettleton, founder of Sarah Nettleton Architects (SNA), received national recognition as a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), on February 11, 2016. She is one of a select 149 of nearly 88,000 AIA members who were nationally elevated to its prestigious College of Fellows in 2016, an honor awarded to those who have made significant contributions to the profession.

The jury seeks to not only recognize the achievements of architects as individuals, but also their significant contribution to architecture and society on a national level in five categories of recognition. Nettleton’s category: Advanced the science and art of planning and building by advancing the standards of architectural education, training and practice, reflects her extraordinary body of work exploring new pathways to sustainable design.

“I am honored and humbled by my elevation to FAIA,” says Nettleton. “This is an excellent avenue to continue to share the message of sustainability and resiliency – core values of my practice since day one.”

In her built work and writing throughout her professional career, she explores a new generation of sustainable thinking through integrating time-tested solutions, new technologies, and simplicity in daily life. Historically, Nettleton, member of the Minneapolis Chapter of AIA, has always anticipated the next step in sustainable design. In the early 1990s, before LEED existed, she helped to write the Hennepin County Design Guidelines that ultimately shaped the B3 guidelines, mandatory sustainability standards for all state funded projects in Minnesota.

Nettleton has been a consistent voice in the profession for the integrated vision of simplicity and green design and the value that architects bring in advocating for sustainability. She is a vocal advocate on sustainability in commercial and residential projects as demonstrated over a career of writings, lectures, and speaking. Her book, The Simple Home, published in 2007, has sold over 18,000 copies internationally and is currently featured as an e-book at Taunton Press. Additionally, she’s been featured in Women in Green: Voices in Sustainable Design —a collection of conversations about women and their contributions in a range of industries.

Her two-year book tour for The Simple Home covered 14 U.S. cities, spreading the word that even small and simple buildings can have major environmental benefits and beautiful living spaces. The book features 21 houses and six paths to simplicity, underscoring Nettleton’s long-term practice management goal to design modestly-scaled projects that leave smaller footprints on the earth. Her national outreach follows the precedents of other noted Minnesota Fellows, Sarah Susanka, FAlA and Dale Mulfinger, FAlA, also authors of design publications widely accessed by the public.

Nettleton’s design process begins with a deep understanding of landscape ecology and siting followed by thoughtful integration of the building and microclimate with new technologies as appropriate for clients and their budgets. One particularly notable project is Tofte Cabin, perched on the North Shore of Lake Superior and part of a long-term study of Net Zero Energy design shared online in real time with a global audience. This 2002 Top-l0-COTE-Award-winning project, viewable here at, has attracted over 3 million viewers online.

“It is wonderful to see Sarah recognized at this level,” says William Beyer, FAIA, Nettleton’s nominator for the Fellowship, “After 40 years of sharing great collegiality fostered through AIA and our small firm practices, I understand, admire and respect Sarah’s approach to the design process and her passion for tirelessly bringing a message of sustainability and simplicity to new audiences with impact.”

About the Fellowship
The 2016 Jury of Fellows from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) elevated 149 AIA members to its prestigious College of Fellows, an honor awarded to members who have made significant contributions to the profession. The 2016 Fellows will be honored at an investiture ceremony at the AIA Convention in Philadelphia in May. Further information about the 2016 elevated Fellows can be found here.