Recently, our firm signed the “2030 AIA Commitment,” a newer national initiative that challenges firms to reduce their carbon footprint, including providing the means for them to assess how energy performance is affected by design elements.
By signing on with this sustainability policy, we’ve undertaken a formal action plan that not only makes our commitment to and policy of being eco-friendly known, but it also shines a light on our promise to have a plan that reflects our belief system of green practices in place before 2030.
Lofty? Perhaps. But energy conservation is no longer a fringe movement spurred by unconventional groups. It’s a concept that’s worked its way into virtually every aspect of mainstream life and industry, including design and construction. Look around. Cutting-edge firms being run by the new generation care deeply about sustainability, where they work and with whom they do business.
Already, some of the larger firms in our industry have joined the AIA’s environmentally friendly challenge by publicly agreeing to improve their firm’s operations to be more sustainable through their commitment to the organization’s 2030 initiative—just like we’ve done. Sure, it was a choice to join the challenge, but it was the right thing to do. More than that, it’s doable.
Our firm has always believed in sustainability. Nearly all of our projects feature elements of LEED design or full-on LEED certification, even with the design, technical and logistic rigors that achieving this notable sustainability effort requires. The more our team learns and knows about sustainability and how to incorporate its ideals in our office and projects, the more valuable they become to the firm and our clients. That’s why our staff is encouraged to become LEED-accredited and why we attend conferences, sponsor staff training and education, and bring in speakers to conduct lunch seminars on the subject. We’re dedicating time for each member of our staff to learn about environmental stewardship and are creating the right vehicles to achieve a sustainable impact. We also recruit professionals with LEED credentials and work to incorporate green efforts in all aspects of design, from furniture to mechanics to technology and more.
Sustainable practices are so appealing that developers consider LEED as a means to attract tenants and seek incentives to develop LEED-certified buildings.
Of course, they do!
Tenants want eco-friendly, energy-efficient buildings. Environmental sensibility matters, and it’s everywhere. Not long ago I went to Israel and evaluated different sites with a client, who heavily favored LEED-accredited buildings. LEED accreditation is the driving engine that keeps the push for sustainability going, whether it’s how a building gets its water supply, recycles gray water, harvests and irrigates green spaces or uses solar power. Even the design aesthetic can forward sustainability through visually stimulating features and the use of eco-friendly materials, especially those that have a story behind them.
As I have discussed in previous writings, projects for our clients interested in sustainability are done with a consultant whose best-practice levels match our and the client’s needs. Typically, that involves working with a LEED professional for project charting, matrixes and confirmations, with a LEED score card used to ensure that the client’s levels for sustainability are met, all with consideration of the energy saved, costs saved, project timing and overall affordability.
We’re happy to help clients achieve their sustainable goals, not only because it’s what they want but also because environmentally friendly practices are something we care about and are committed to. We’re proud to have made the 2030 AIA Commitment and know, like you, that even small steps toward environmental wellness can make a difference.
Scott E. Spector, AIA, is a principal at Spector Group, one of New York’s premier architecture and interior design firms and a leader in corporate tenant and building owner-based design. The award-winning company has affiliate offices nationally and internationally. To date, it has completed more than 2,000 projects.