February 28, 2023

Sustainable Design in Architecture

For over 60 years, Progressive Companies has been committed to innovative and sustainable designs that benefit our clients and communities. In this blog series leading up to Earth Day, we’ll share knowledge and best practices we’ve learned along the way.

AIA 2030

In fall of 2021 we announced that our firm had joined the AIA 2030 Challenge for all new buildings and renovations to be carbon neutral by 2030. Since then, we’ve developed a Sustainability Action Plan and uploaded ten of our projects to the AIA’s Design Data Exchange (DDx), giving us real-time feedback and data points on our advancement towards our commitment. 

We are engaging DDx in our research phase to help clients analyze performance and optimization. We uploaded a potential new prototype and compared the operational carbon to previous prototypes. We’ve also shown phase-by-phase comparisons between design intent and client goals. 

Our commitment to the 2030 challenge is advancing our integrated design approach, evolving technology, and producing innovation in strategy and outcomes. This is leading to our clients meeting their carbon reduction commitments and creating resiliency plans that will serve generations to come. 

Sustainable Design Practices in Architecture

The world is changing, and architecture along with it. While sustainable design used to be considered a specialty, it’s now expected of those entering the field. We have a professional responsibility to design buildings that will stand the test of time and adapt to emerging building systems and changing climate patterns.

Our firm is leading sustainable design through the use of energy modeling software like the cove.tool and the TallyCAT plugin for Revit. These programs allow us to see how the way we plan a building (including window placement, direction of sunlight, and materials used) affects operational carbon. We make informed decisions to reduce energy consumption and lower operating costs. We also use building information models to estimate the amount of embodied carbon in a project. The Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator, or EC3, is a free database of materials that helps us select greener, lower-carbon materials.

Minimizing both operational and embodied carbon is one of the main ways we strive toward our 2030 goal of net zero. Thankfully, we’re learning together with other participating firms, and alongside others in the AEC industry who are working towards a more sustainable future. If we’re going to reach our 2030 goal, it must be a shared effort.

Building Today for Tomorrow

One way we’re planning for the future is by anticipating the integration of systems that will become commonplace in the life of our buildings. For example, a client may wish to install photovoltaic panels to generate electricity, or add rainwater capture and reuse later down the road. On one project, the, analysis determined that rainwater vessels connected to the roof were required to collect up to 15,000 gallons of water from a single major rain event for reuse in the building and on the site. By including flexible options in our design, we make sure our clients are set up for success.

We’re also aware of the economic impact climate change has on our clients and their spaces. A building that doesn’t make it through climate events like wildfires or hurricanes isn’t a good use of resources, either financial or material. That’s why we focus on ensuring our buildings are resilient as well as sustainable.

Current Projects

We love using our sustainable design knowledge to creatively solve problems, meet client goals, and help plan for the future. A few current projects we’re working on are:

  1. Passive strategies for shading and daylighting for confidential workplace projects and engineered system upgrades for a very large workplace campus. In these projects we’re focused on lowering operational carbon emissions to 50% of the building baseline. With a few simple, low-cost investments, we’ll meet those targets and possibly even reach 65%.
  2. A detailed dive into stormwater management and reuse is being conducted for large venues in two urban districts. In these projects, we are looking to lessen the investment in traditional utility systems and optimize natural resources and event operations. These solutions can lower initial expenses and contribute in real-time to better water resource stewardship.

Want to learn more about sustainability options for your project? We’d love to chat! Contact us for more information or to meet with one of our design experts.

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