Posted on January 31, 2022
We love to find innovative solutions through the responsible design of high-performing and sustainable building systems. At its core, that means the architects, engineers, and construction teams we work with design buildings that reduce resource usage, maintain comfort and safety, and meet a client’s needs and budget.
“Responsible building design” is often linked to “green building” design, or “energy-efficient” design. But responsible building design applies to more than just the building. A truly responsible building design includes:
- Safe and consistent indoor environmental quality
- Resources protecting occupant health
- Operational and maintenance practices that promote a sustainable design throughout the building’s life cycle
- Reduce energy use, such as water, solid and human waste, and electricity
Commercial buildings undergoing retrofits should also fit in their natural environment. Some building projects have to adapt to new uses, such as a former factory site in a primarily new residential or commercial area. A sustainable building design might include new sustainable materials, such as recycled glass to replace old windows. Or the use of solar energy to heat water systems and improve energy independence.
More than just a green building
Some building owners may assume environmentally responsible buildings are all about protecting the environment, politicizing climate change, or just claiming a title of “green building” or LEED certification.
The truth is responsible building design goes far beyond that otherwise narrow scope of environmental performance. Human health and life cycle costs are huge factors in how a building performs.
Federal agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and US Green Building Council (USGBC) have standards for sustainable design, but we often pursue sustainable building design that goes beyond those standards when a client’s budget or goals align to support it, even if it’s optimizing window placement to minimize heating or cooling costs.
Misconceptions about the cost of green buildings
Green buildings do not have to cost more simply because they use systems that don’t rely on fossil fuels. While there are instances where a building or project may not be able to use solar or other renewable solutions, the costs for those that can or choose to can be significant.
In any project, we work with clients to reduce environmental degradation wherever possible simply because it’s the right thing to do and it saves clients money.
Public and commercial buildings are losing money when they ignore energy efficiency
Responsible buildings don’t just conserve energy—they optimize energy and their natural resources. Green buildings are resource efficient through cost-effective options such as wind, solar design, and other measures to meet energy requirements.
Using low-flow toilets reduces the overall impact on water consumption while saving money. Energy-efficient lighting and motion sensors can provide an ROI on electrical costs in as little as twelve to eighteen months. A facility can save even more money if they combine these waste-reducing strategies with solar, wind, or geothermal technology by producing more energy than they consume.
Our building designers and consulting engineers know these options optimize operational efficiency, reduce costs, enhance indoor environmental quality, and improve energy performance—all while making a project a “green building”.
That is why over 85% of our clients are repeat customers, and 80% of our work is dedicated to complex renovation and adaptive reuse projects that extend and improve a building’s life, reduce its costs, and make for a better built environment.