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EDRA’s Certificate of Research Excellence (CORE) is devoted to recognizing and celebrating exceptional environmental design research as applied to design projects. Under this program, CORE certificates are issued to rigorous and impactful practice-based design research that sparks innovation and promotes best practice in environmental design.

View 2017 Recipients

View 2016 Recipients


Practitioners who conduct research as part of their work have much the same interest as academic researchers in receiving validation and credit for the quality of their research efforts. While academics need this recognition in order to advance their careers and to enhance their credibility when applying for grants and other awards, similar recognition for design practitioners can be useful for enhancing their resumes as well as for marketing purposes.

Currently, the credibility of academic research is judged on the basis of well-established protocols and peer-review processes generally associated with the publication of scholarly articles describing their research. However, this means of recognition is not normally available to design professionals, who tend to be focused on project delivery and business, and are less likely to prepare formal scientific reports.

The response to this situation, developed by the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA), is the Certificate of Research Excellence (CORE) program. CORE is a structured evaluation program based on criteria — applied by trained experts — to confirm the quality of practice-based research.

EDRA CORE's unique evaluation framework

  • Identifies practice-based environmental design research that is not only rigorous, but also offers measurable value, meets industry challenges, and advances design thinking;
  • Recognizes the importance of research in practice;
  • Provides a compass to guide designers, researchers, organizations, and manufacturers in their research and evidence-based design efforts; and
  • Builds on EDRA's tradition of inquiry, reflection, and collaboration and its commitment to innovation.

2018 marks the third of three pilot years devoted to developing this new program. The CORE framework will evolve based on the applications received and feedback from members of the application review committee.

Who Should Apply and Why

If you have completed a significant practice-based research project in the last two years and share EDRA’s commitment to advancing design research, you should apply to CORE as a way to show how your design research effort is making a real impact on design.

Here is what past CORE recipients are saying on the benefits of CORE recognition:

  • "…providing recognition for our [education] client was fabulous. It helps them with recruiting students in an increasingly more competitive environment. For our firm, it strengthens our credibility regarding the successful integration of research into the design process."
  • "This is one of the highest recognitions we could ever receive..."

How to Apply & Fees

The 2018 CORE application process will take place entirely online. Organizations/firms or individuals wishing to submit their project(s) for evaluation can do so through our online application portal. Note: applications that are mailed or e-mailed will not be accepted. There is no limit on the number of applications you may submit.

The application portal will open soon!

The application fee is $250 (USD) per submission. When you access the online application portal, you will be prompted with a 'Payment' step where you will be redirected to the EDRA Store. A confirmation number will be provided after payment, which should be entered on the “Payment” step of your online application. Note: in order for an application to receive an evaluation, the application fee for the submitted project must be received. Initial notifications will be shared in early 2018.

In addition to the standard process of rigorous blind review by an interdisciplinary panel of experts, the 2018 CORE program will again offer an appeals process. Requests for appeals will be accepted for two weeks after initial results are shared with the applicants.

The fee for an appeal review is $50 (USD) per submission. If an applicant opts for an appeal, the payment will be made at that time via a secure online payment site. Note: in order for an application to receive an appeal evaluation, the appeal review fee for the submitted project must be received.

Evaluation Criteria

To be considered for CORE, research projects should meet the minimum program requirements, i.e. the research should:

  • Have been done in connection with a specific design effort or ongoing design program;
  • Include a multidisciplinary team of designers and researchers;
  • Consider the relationship between the identified human and environmental variables; and
  • Have been completed within the last two years

Each application completed-in-full will receive a rigorous blind review by an interdisciplinary panel of experts, including academic researchers, practice-based researchers, and/or designers. Evaluations are based on two main dimensions:

  • Research Rigor: The use of recognized scientific approaches and techniques to produce valid results, and
  • Research Value: The project’s actual (or potential future) impact on the design industry and design stakeholders.


2018 CORE recipients not only attain recognition of their achievement, but will also receive the following:

  • EDRA Press Release announcing 2018 CORE recipients;
  • Permission to list/describe the project as "2018 EDRA CORE Recipient," hashtag #2018EDRACORE; and
  • Knowledge sharing and promotional marketing by EDRA, which may include such opportunities as a link to your project report on the EDRA CORE webpage, a webinar presentation, a white paper highlighting 2018 CORE recipients, and/or a presentation opportunity at EDRA49.

In addition, the 2018 CORE program is offering a Recognition Kit, which will allow CORE recipients to customize the manner of recognition they wish to receive. The Recognition Kit options include:

  • Standard Recognition Package - included in application fee, $0 additional cost : One unframed paper recognition certificate per project team member listed on the application, including shipping; and one complimentary attendance to the CORE recognition ceremony at EDRA49.
  • Recognition Package Option #1 - $40 additional cost per item: One framed paper recognition certificate, plus shipping costs. Framed certificates may also be accepted in person at the CORE recognition ceremony at EDRA49. There is no limit to the quantity that can be purchased.
  • Recognition Package Option #2 - $100 additional cost per item: One engraved recognition statue, plus shipping costs. Engraved recognition statues may also be accepted in person at the CORE recognition ceremony at EDRA49. There is no limit to the quantity that can be purchased.
  • Recognition Package Option #3 - $50 additional cost per person: One additional attendance to the CORE recognition ceremony at EDRA49. There is no limit on the quantity that can be purchased.


For questions regarding the CORE program, application process, and/or sponsorship, please contact EDRA Headquarters at headquarters@edra.org.


1000 Westgate Drive, Suite 252
St. Paul, Minnesota 55114
Phone: (651) 379-7306 | Fax: (651) 290-2266
Email: headquarters@edra.org


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