Behind every green building is an architect. A recent survey conducted by Lance Hosey for Architect Magazine asked 150 green building experts, including architects, what they thought were the five most important green buildings constructed since 1980. The top vote getter, with 13 votes, was the Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies in Oberlin, Ohio.

The Lewis Center, which was completed in 2001, is on the campus of Oberlin College & Conservatory. The zero-energy building has classroom and office space, an auditorium, an environmental studies library, and a Living Machine wastewater purification system. The building is equipped with solar panels, energy efficient lighting, a geothermal heating and cooling system, furniture with biodegradable upholstery, and more. As Oberlin College prepares to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Lewis Center, the college can add this honor to a long list of awards that the building has received over the past decade.

The California Academy of Sciences came in just behind the Lewis Center with 11 votes. The building is a LEED Platinum facility that boasts a massive green roof with more than 1.7 million plants and is equipped with a solar canopy that will generate up to 10 percent of the facility’s annual energy needs.

The third most important green building according to the Architect Magazine survey is the Genzyme Center in Cambridge, Mass. The LEED Platinum certified 2-story, 350,000-square-foot office building was built on a site that once housed a coal gasification plant. The abandoned building was an eyesore in the community and Genzyme revitalized the community with an environmentally responsible office building.

The fourth and fifth most important green buildings each received seven votes: Beddington Zero Energy Development (BedZED) in London and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation facility in Annapolis, Md. BedZED is a sustainable community in the U.K. that is comprised of houses for sale, key worker shared ownership, and social housing for rent.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Philip Merrill Environmental Center is a LEED Platinum certified facility that uses geothermal wells to generate one-third of the building’s energy, has an onsite solar array to generate additional clean energy, features an automatic natural ventilation system equipped with climate sensors, and is equipped with composting toilets that don't use water.

These buildings earned the most votes and are considered the five most important green buildings built since 1980, according to the Architect Magazine survey. Although the survey looked at green buildings from the last 30 years, most of the multiple vote getters were built in the last decade. A few buildings from the 1990s earned four votes including the Institute for Forestry and Nature Research in The Netherlands (1998), Commerzbank Headquarters in Germany (1997), and the Menara Mesiniaga Tower in Malaysia (1992).

See what other buildings made The G-List.

The five most important green buildings
A recent survey asked experts what they felt were the most important green buildings since 1980.