Market Intelligence

Green & Sustainable Construction

Greening Your Firm

Greening Your Firm

How do you get to green? The following examples relate the relative success of four firms as they approach sustainable design and green product selection.


Firm 1: The principals of the architectural firm make a commitment to sustainable design and green products. They decide to internally evaluate all of their projects based on the LEED Rating System of the U.S. Green Building Council or other rating system such as Green Globes. Green review is added to their quality assurance program.


Six months later: The firm finds that the LEED criteria for sustainable design closely match their existing designs. Sensitivity to context and energy efficiency have been considered in their projects for many years. The LEED rating system points out some new opportunities, but there are no major changes in the design or document production processes. Green products selected for projects are frequently value-engineered out, and their corporate owners don’t seem particularly committed to green, nor to the claims of increased productivity with sustainable design. Green grows slowly in the firm because only a few are committed to sustainability.


Firm 2: A firm specializing in government work notes that their clients are requiring evidence of experience with green design as a selection criterion for architects. The marketing principal convenes a meeting of project managers, and an organized effort is made to achieve LEED certification for a project and green their specifications. Designers and project managers in the firm are encouraged to learn green principles, so they can “talk the talk.”.


Six months later: Several LEED projects are under way, and the engineering disciplines in the firm are pleased to have the opportunity to do more energy modeling and to work with the designers to improve overall performance of the buildings. However, green efforts are generally limited to key people, and the rest of the firm waits for the trickle-down influence of those in senior positions. The firm has established its green credentials, and use of the firm’s green specifications gradually increases.


Firm 3: A committee of interior designers in a multidisciplinary firm meets monthly to discuss green topics. Speakers are invited, staff attends green seminars, and a consultant is hired to create a database of green products to be made available on the firm’s intranet. Green articles in magazines are constantly circulated to appropriate staff.


Six months later: The enthusiasm of the green committee spreads to most of the younger staff in the firm. Individuals contribute to a common database, and even small contributions build the firm’s green deliverables. The firm subscribes to numerous magazines, and the librarian routes articles according to the interest areas expressed by individual staff. The green dynamic continues to grow in the firm, and a certain green pride develops. Projects meet their green targets.


Firm 4: The principal responsible for maintaining the firm’s details on energy performance and exterior wall assemblies expands his longstanding commitment to building technology by adding sustainable design to his criteria. Green products are added to the firm’s master specifications. LEED projects accelerate the process. The firm creates a position for a green researcher.?


Six months later: All projects are reviewed during design for energy performance and green opportunities. The technology principal has much success requiring individual project architects to evaluate their projects for green. During bidding and construction, some contractors object to the special materials and increased inspections during construction, but the firm enforces its policies. Research backs up product selection and detailing. Buildings with improved energy performance and careful product selection are designed, constructed, and put into service.


Excerpted from Green Building: Project Planning & Cost Estimating, available through RSMeans.


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