Sustainability Initiatives

Our Approach to Sustainability

A wide range of inexpensive, cost-effective techniques for clients interested in Green Design Energy efficiency, day-lighting, use of re-cycled materi-als, use of rapidly renewable materials, and efficient space planning are just a few of the techniques utilized.

Use of low VOC paints, adhesives and low off-gassing particle board products are part of our standard specifications.

Our mainstream design process is a “Green” design process, allowing for our clients to pick and choose which Green strategies are to be utilized in their Interior Architecture / Interior Design. Green Design does not need to be more costly, but rather more “intelligent” design.

Renewable Resources

1. Grow Your Own Food – The use of a sustainable philosophy that promotes growing food on the site for that site.
Fact: fresh produce loses nutrients quickly, locally grown food, purchased soon after harvest, retains its nutrients.
Example: parking lot vegetable gardens at a local restaurant.

2. Environmental Construction – Building is designed to take advantage of environmental benefactors. Those such as heat isolation, orientation of the building, sun and natural daylight exposure and sufficient ventilation with heat recovery will create a low energy operating system
Example: Window placement and glazing materials can allow a building to reject heat in the summer and to capture heat in the winter when the sun is lower in the sky.

3. Building Life Plan: Business plan developed for efficient operations in the future and an accurate idea of final desired outcome during design process.

4. Day-lighting – The use of a passive solar design strategy to provide natural light to a space.
Fact: Solar day lighting can provide free, high quality lighting, and do it with less heat generation inside the house than conventional electric lighting.
Fact: Lighting is responsible for one-fourth of all electricity consumption worldwide (cite 1).
Example: Using interior light shelves to bounce light deeper into the space.

5. Wind Energy – Capturing and converting the movement of wind into a useful source of energy for the building.
Fact: A single wind turbine can power 500 homes.
Example: Wind turbines.

6. Water Energy – Capturing and converting the movement of water into a useful source of energy for the building.
Fact: Hydropower can also be used for water supply, flood control, irrigation and even recreation purposes.
Example: hydro-electric dams.

7. Energy Recovery – Temperature and humidity is transferred from exhaust air before exiting the building to the incoming air in order to reduce the waste of the energy that was used to temper and adjust air humidity upon intake.
Example: Airxchange Energy Recovery wheels

8. Energy Efficient Appliances – Appliances used for building functionality are efficient in their water and energy use and waste.

9. Impermeable Envelopes – Reduce energy loss through the building envelope.

10. Occupational Sensors: The use of sensors to switch off lights, computers when left unused for a certain amount of time. Over-all staff controls to manage the light and energy use of large, public spaces in building.

11. Solar Collection: Capturing and converting the sun’s rays into a useful source of energy for the building.
Fact: Solar water heaters do not pollute. By investing in one, you will be avoiding carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide, and the other air pollution and wastes created when your utility generates power or you burn fuel to heat your household water. When a solar water heater replaces an electric water heater, the electricity displaced over 20 years represents more than 50 tons of avoided carbon dioxide emissions alone.
Fact: Businesses can save 40% – 80% on electric or fuel bills by replacing their conventional water heater with a solar water heating system.
Example: ST-Solar Thermal and PV- Photo Voltaic

12. Water Waste – Utilize greywater for site irrigation or reclamation blackwater for site infiltration to minimize the need for potable water.
Fact: Over 25% of all the potable water you use in your home is used to flush the toilets. (Chelsea Green Online).
Example: Install a living machine or constructed wetland to manage waste water.

13. Rain Water Harvesting – Collect, store, filter, re-energize and utilize rain water for building and site needs in order to minimize the usage and waste of municipal water
Fact: Nearly 70% of total household water is used for landscape irrigation and other outdoor activities (US EPA 2009).
Example: Collecting water with rain barrels.

14. Stormwater Management – Utilize collected rain water for site irrigation to minimize the need for potable water.
Fact: Nearly 70% of total household water is used for landscape irrigation and other outdoor activities (US EPA 2009).
Fact: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that up to 70% of the pollution in our surface waters comes from stormwater. Many studies have found that nearly 50% of that pollution comes from small businesses, individuals and homeowners, due to lawn care, household chemicals and automobile usage.
Example: Rain gardens and retention ponds.

Site

1. Old Building Recycling – Re-purposing a built structure for new occupancy and use in order to save energy and resources.

2. Healthy Soils: Protect and restore site’s healthy soils to absorb rain water and prevent excessive collections to build up on site that could lead to erosion, flooding and sedimentation, This allows the soils naturally clean, store and replenish ground water with nutrients.
Fact: Compaction, which is caused by the use of heavy machinery during construction, degrades soil structure, and reduces infiltration rates,2 which increase the runoff volume and flooding potential.3
Example: Recover plant trimmings as compost and mulch to nourish soils and help reduce the need for fertilizer.

3. Manage Food/Organic Waste – Provide infrastructure to properly manage organic food waste to provide nutrients for the next crop or seasons plantings.
Fact: We generate 21.5 million tons of food waste each year. If we composted that food, it would reduce the same amount of greenhouse gas as taking 2 million cars off the road (Do Something.Org Online)
Example: Provide areas/structures for composting organic waste.

4. Master Planning: Sites are designed to integrate potential future development in order to reduce waste or inefficient use of site.

5. Conservational Construction: Trees/Vegetation/Site habitat will be untouched as much as possible (per our definition) during the building of new construction on a previously un-built site.

6. Conscious Footprint: Building will be designed to take up minimum space on land (per our specification/definition of minimum”)

7. Ecological Preservation – New building designs are not allowed to exist in any sensitive ecological area. We encourage the use of previously developed

8. Replenish Habitat – The use of a design philosophy that encourages improving nearby habitats as an exchange for those habitats disrupted by construction.
Fact: A mature tree removes almost 70 times more pollution than a newly planted tree.
Example: relocating mature trees from a construction site to a community park.

9. New Growth: Along with the building must be the planning and design of new trees, vegetation ect. In terms of project budget cuts, landscaping will be held at a higher importance and not cut from the project.

Materials

1. Assessment of Building Life Cycle: Development of document or reference that analyzes the buildings life cycle information.

2. Local Materials: Using local materials for construction will reduce transportation and operation cost, energy for production and the amount of greenhouse gas emissions released.
Fact: Statistics have shown that locally owned business, rather than a nationally owned business, will typically be more likely to use your money to make purchases from other local businesses, service providers and farms (134)

3. Responsible Use of Raw Materials: To encourage the use of products and materials for which life cycle information is available and that have environmentally, economically, and socially preferable life cycle impacts. To reward project teams for selecting products verified to have been extracted or sourced in a responsible manner. *referenced from USGBC.. needs re-wording, different understanding or approach.

4. Recycled Materials – The use of recycled materials during building design, construction and throughout the buildings lifetime.
Fact: Americans throw away 25,000,000 plastic bottles every hour.
Fact: 827,000 to 1.3 million tons of plastic PET water bottles were produced in the U.S. in 2006, requiring the energy equivalent of 50 million barrels of oil. 76.5 percent of these bottles ended up in landfills.34
Example: Recycled plastic water bottles can be made into carpet.

5. Manage Material Waste: Material waste or extra materials are donated given away/recycled to be used by someone else and are not thrown away. Much like that of the Re-Store used by Habitat for Humanity where they sell miscellaneous extra material from their job sites at a discounted rate.

6. Efficient Materials Maintenance – Frequent material maintenance or use of low maintenance materials insures quality indoor air, longer building life and cleaner and more comfortable environments.

7. Recycling – Provide space and/or receptacles for the collection and sorting of recycled materials including paper, plastic, cardboard, metal. Through reduction, reuse, and recycling, the waste stream can be minimized to reduce a development’s discharged waste to landfills.
Fact: The average person generates over 4 pounds of waste everyday and about 1.5 tons of solid waste per year. (Do Something.org Online).

Health, Safety, and Welfare

1. Walk-ability: Building and site design integrate the promotion of walking for the health and fitness of all day to day users.
Fact: People who exercised during their workday were 23 percent more productive on those days than they were when they didn’t exercise. (International Journal of Workplace Health Management)
Example: Sidewalks and pedestrian crosswalks are integrated into the site layout.

2. Acoustical Performance: Exterior noise is controlled. Use of materials and ceiling heights will also be designed appropriately for the type of use the space will have and the level of sound desired.

3. Responsible Chemicals – In regards to the chemicals used in the building’s construction, buildings material finishes and building’s cleaning and maintenance supplies harmful chemicals are avoided. Clean, environmentally-friendly products are used instead.
Fact: The EPA estimates that indoor air is between two to five times more polluted than outdoors due to continual gassing from building materials, furnishings, cleaning products, pesticides, solvents, ect (MEDIAPLANET ABOUT GREEN BUILDING, DISTRIBUTED IN THE BOSTON GLOBE).
Example: Trust Water “green-clean” system that uses building’s wastewater and salt to produce non-caustic chemicals for the building’s entire chemical product needs.

4. Ventilation –The use of an active ventilation system in order to exhaust noxious fumes from and provide 100% fresh air to designated areas.
Fact: The three most important methods of improving indoor air quality are source removal, air cleaning, and increased ventilation.
Example: Ventilate chemical storage rooms.

5. Design Consciousness –The use of a design philosophy that respects the Client’s budget by incorporating responsible sustainable strategies, closely monitoring building area, closely monitoring material cost and developing a cost estimate for each phase of design and construction. Fact: solar systems have a very long life representing an excellent return on investment.
Example: Using passive solar design strategies for a project with a conservative budget.

6. Aesthetic Quality – Building is design uniquely for clients and reached for an element of beauty and intrigue. Building designs are innovative and inspirational

7. Sociable Spaces – Space for interaction for user’s of the building.

8. Humanely Scaled: Building design incorporates an understanding of people and the way they will react with their physical environment. People interact with their environments in relation to their own size and physical capabilities. Measurements and scale are studied in relation to the user to create a comfortable environment.
Fact: More than 60% of workplace illnesses reported each year are related to repetitive stress injuries resulting from continuous repetition of the same motions.

9. Universal Design: Building environment is designed for the unlimited use of all persons regardless of ability or age.
Example: Open floor plans, adjustable or varied workspace heights, easy to reach and to open drawers and door, accessibly placed switches and handles, flat entry ways and doorways and non-slip flooring. Following GUDC (Global Universal Design Commission) http://globaluniversaldesign.com/

10. Comfort Controls – Provide individual and group controls as necessary for interior environmental comfort in terms of lighting, temperature, and humidity to promote increased productivity, comfort, and well being.

11. Bicycle Support – Install bicycle racks to promote bicycle use. The intent is to enhance health as well as reduce pollution and site impacts from automobile reliance.
Fact: Humans utilizing bicycles become the most efficient creatures on earth in terms of metabolic energy use offering nearly three times the efficiency as a walker (Popular Mechanics Online).
Example: By simply installing bike racks, visitors and residents will feel comfortable in biking with the assurance that there is something safe to lock their bike to.

12. Public Transit Support – Locate the project or provide a transit stop (bus, rail, etc.) near the development to encourage the use of public transportation and support community connectivity. The impact of a nearby transit stop will reduce pollution by limiting the use of fossil fuel vehicles and provide closer social engagement.
Fact: Households near public transit drive an average of 4400 fewer miles than households without public transportation access (American Public Transportation Association Online).

Community

1. Public Use: Building owners allow local community participation to happen as often as once a month. This gives the public that is not directly involved with day to day building use a place to gather and socialize.
Fact: On a larger scale, community gardens and city farms bring people together from different ages and cultures, and thus help to create a real sense of neighbourhood.36, 3
Example: Using a school’s computer lab after school hours to hold classes and help education the general public on computer technical skills.
Example: Holding community wide celebrations in an assisted living facility’s activity room and cafeteria.

2. Building as Educational Resource – The use of the building itself as a way to educate occupants and visitors by interaction.
Fact: When we’re an active participant in learning, we remember 70% of the material.
Example: The implementation and exhibition of a rain water collection system.

3. Competitive Bids: Bidding for projects engage in an open and fair bid process that encourages community and minority groups to participate. The process sources government assisted agencies and abides by Right to Work Laws.

4. Sense of Place: The building design is in fact a visual and atmospherical representation of the clients and community’s values, history, surroundings and beliefs. The designs provide a connection that speaks of where is exists.
Example: The St. Croix Public Library designed acoustic panels to represent the topography of the St. Croix River basin.

5. Community Engagement – Involve non-immediate community stakeholders in the design process to seek the most appropriate solutions for a development. The intention is to brainstorm valuable ideas, keep the public informed, and promote robust healthier communities.
Example: The design team could set up a community design charrette for a project.

6. Local Job Creation – Fraction of the project’s labor force to be local residents to help provide jobs and bolster the local economy.

7. Cultural Preservation: That of a person’s/community’s/client’s “culture”, beliefs, practices, associations, values are integrated into the design of a building. Visual/Conceptual.
Example: the 4 directions designed into LLCF

8. Local Art/Craftsmanship: High percentage of interior design/decoration, art and furnishings be commissioned/donated/made by local hands (if available. *Local pride, community pride, benefits for locals.