Sustainable Design

Sustainable Design

We think of sustainable design as a natural part of being caretakers of the Earth. Our commitment to sustainability predates LEED by several decades. We’re among the oldest established “green” firms. In our factory office we’ve installed photovoltaic panel arrays, a pond source geothermal heat pump system, a vegetated roof, and a water turbine — together reducing our energy costs by 40 percent.

sustainable design: Projects

Sustainable Design: Topic

Collective Knowledge

We draw on our staff’s collective knowledge about sustainability. We have 13 LEED accredited professionals, and we’ve completed some 20 LEED-certified buildings, including four at Platinum, the highest LEED rating. In addition to our own staff, we can tap a stable of reliable experts who assist us with special issues like historic building envelopes. We’re parties to the American Institute of Architects’ 2030 Commitment, the goal of which is all carbon neutral buildings within 16 years.

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Sustainable Design: Topic

Meeting High Performance Goals

During design we test strategies like energy management through early energy modeling, maximizing natural light through daylight modeling, building envelope performance, building automation systems, and sustainable materials and products. Our Sustainability Committee provides resources and guidance, disseminating lessons-learned through a digital resource library. We encourage our clients to pursue building systems commissioning services by engaging an independent commissioning agent.

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Sustainable Design: Topic

Our Sustainable Laboratory

With early leadership in passive solar design as our foundation, we try to lead by example. Our offices are housed in a 19th century drill bit factory that is an effective platform for testing sustainable technology. Since 1982, our low-head hydropower turbine has generated electricity from the nearby Falls River. Not long after that we installed a pond source geothermal system, which reduces our heating and cooling costs. In 2006, we installed photovoltaic arrays generating 42.9 kW. Combined, the three systems provide about 40 percent of the firm’s annual electrical needs. Our goal is to eventually become a net-zero user of energy.

Sustainable Design: Topic

Sustainable Athletic Facilities

As a building type, athletic facilities are resource intensive. They typically have a large environmental footprint and extended operating hours. Numerous passive and active strategies can be employed to reduce their energy consumption, improve their water conservation, improve their indoor air quality, and reduce their environmental footprint.

First and foremost, combining uses into a single facility makes good sense, and organizing these buildings into “warm zones” and “cold zones” allows both for climate control efficiencies and buffers that minimize heat loss/gain in the building envelope, a critical component in large-volume buildings. Also, whether using a central heating/cooling plant, or localized facilities, support systems and spaces can be shared to reduce the building footprint, minimize operational redundancy and maximize energy recovery, thereby improving life-cycle performance.

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