The approach to “sustainable” is made jointly with every client on every project. Together, we define goals, set targets and objectives, and choose strategies to be integrated throughout the design process.

During pre-design, we identify, list and follow our environmental goals. We discuss the implications of construction, and we consider the opportunities for using healthy and renewable resources more, while using harmful and non-renewable resources less.

These environmental goals help shape the schematic design process, including site design, building form and building orientation. As we imagine what the building will look like and feel like, we also determine how the sun, wind, and other elements will affect the building and its occupants. We also discuss how to meet the environmental goals identified within our budget.

With building and site design concepts in place, the design development phase offers the opportunity to measure efficiency. For example, we typically set a target for energy efficiency (such as 60% better than code, or Passive House standard) and then use energy modeling software to meet that target. This affects the selection of materials, construction methods and systems for heating, hot water and other operations. Doing analysis now helps us identify which design elements have the biggest impact and how interacting elements affect each other.

A good set of construction documents gives your builder the information needed to physically construct a building that meets the environmental goals defined early in the process. The drawings and accompanying specifications used in this phase include detailed information about the methods, materials, targets, objectives and intent.

A project with such a defined approach to energy performance and environmental health requires a contractor with both experience and commitment. We help you communicate your goals to prospective builders during the bidding/negotiating phase, and we work to ensure that environmental targets will be met.

During construction, we act as your advocate, but we also cooperate with your builder to help ensure success for everyone. Whether through reviewing a complex window order or by our presence at a blower door test, we help make sure the finished product is as good or better than planned.

Our work isn’t finished when you move into your finished space. We stay in contact with you to learn how the building is performing over time. We like to know how much energy it uses, but most importantly, we learn from the stories people share with us about their experiences in the space.

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