Current Articles | RSS Feed RSS Feed

Green Building Renewal: A Historic Building is Reborn

Posted on Tue, Sep 16, 2014

Green Building DesignIn my previous blog, I talked about the background, details, and return on investment that Carlson Studio Architecture realized when we purchased our office building in 2007 and built out a LEED-CI Silver Certified project, which was the third LEED-CI project ever certified in Florida at that time. I was happy to share the detailed information about this green building accomplishment.

One thing I have seen over these many years in working in the sustainable design realm is that people with a “green” mindset are very open to sharing the details with others, whether it is an ROI calculation, or a green building design concept, or a specific detail.  A strength of the green building world that is its willingness to share, and bring everyone up along the way.  As they say, 1 rising tide lifts all boats. So, we felt strongly that we should walk the walk and design our own office to be LEED certified.

The Green Building Offices at Carlson Studio Architecture

Having now worked in this green building for over 7 years, I have a few observations.  We used some simple, basic technology throughout the office that we have become so accustom to, we miss it when we go elsewhere, including:

  • Motion sensors in all the private offices, conference rooms, bathrooms and lobby.

  • The T-8 lights come on when we walk into a room, and go off a few minutes after we leave.

  • The bathroom motion sensors are also tied into the exhaust fans, so they stay on automatically for a few minutes as well, then turn off automatically so as to not exhaust all the air conditioned air out of the green building.

  • The dual flush toilets work great.

  • The faucets in the sinks are all on automatic sensors, so when you put your hands under the faucet, the water turns on, and when you remove your hands it shuts off immediately.

  • The faucet motions sensors are battery operated, and the flow of the water out of the faucet turns a small turbine wheel and recharges the batteries constantly. We have yet to change the batteries. 

I have gotten so accustomed to not turning the lights on and off, and not having to turn the faucet on and off, that when I am away from the office I typically expect those things to happen automatically, but they don’t very often. All of this is simple technology has no maintenance and nothing to break.

Other simple things like programmable thermostats, automatically turn the air on in the morning about an hour before we open, and reset to a bit warmer temperature in the evening to save energy when the building is not occupied.  There is also a weekend setting that is similar to the night time setting.  The thermostat allows these setting to be easily manually overridden by a user who may come in at night or on the weekend.

We also added a simple timer switch that closes the fresh air intake damper at night and on weekends when the office is unoccupied.  This saves additional energy because the A/C system does not have to bring in and dehumidify the hot and humid Florida outside air at night or on weekends.

More about real experiences working in a LEED office in a future green building blog.

Green Building Design by CSA

At Carlson Studio Architecture, we believe that going green doesn't have to mean sacrificing quality or comfort... and certainly not convenience. Our own offices are a perfect example of not only how EASY it is to go green, but also that ultimately those people living and working in green buildings come to discover that life can be decidedly simpler when your building 'does the work for you'.

But be forewarned: it's easy to get spoiled by such effortless simplicity, and to miss it when you're away; just as we do here at CSA.

We are happy to provide a complimentary green building consultation to determine how your green building projects may best be implemented, whether it’s for a new green building or renovation of an existing structure. Just click the button below to submit your request, and we'll respond promptly to schedule your consultation.

Request A Consultation

How To Implement A Design Charrette

Posted on Wed, Aug 27, 2014

How An Eco Design Charrette Is Used In A Sustainable Design Project.

sustainable design charretteOne of the tools we use at Carlson Studio Architecture to design high performance sustainable buildings is the Eco Design Charette.  This is an intense half day or longer where all participants of a project focus on design ideas for efficient use energy, water and resources in the new sustainable design building project.

A Charrette is a French word meaning “little cart”.  In the Beaux Arts in Paris in the 19th century, proctors would collect the work of all the apprentices at the deadline hour with their little carts.  The word conveys a sence of an intense effort to finish a task before the deadline.

Today a Charrette can be called a workshop, a planning session, a collaborative meeting, a high performance design tool, an integrated sustainable design process, an intensive interaction of all the players on the project.  The charrette is a tool for moving the project through phases of discovery and design quickly and efficiently.  The focus is on creativity within a structured framework.  A charrette brings the right people, with the necessary skills, together to make decisions in a short period of time.
  • Goals are created and refined.  
  • Measurable objectives are established.
A typical Charrette agenda may look like this:

Introductions- All self-introduce Who you are, what your role is.

Sustainable construction resized 600Roles and responsibilities:
Facilitator:  A facilitator is “a neutral servant of the people who focuses on guiding without direction, bringing about actions without disruption, helping people self-discover new approaches and solutions to problems, knocking down walls, while preserving structures of value, and above all, appreciating people as people.”  Definition by Bob Kelsch, The Art of Facilitation.The Art of Facilitation.

The facilitator sets the stage, ground rules, and record the ideas.  Charrette attendees provide the content.

Ground Rules for a successful Charrette:
•    Dignify others
•    Be open and honest
•    Everyone participates
•    All perspectives are of value
•    One conversation at a time
•    Focus on ideas and issues, not individuals and behaviors
•    Seek to understand and then to be understood

Building Consensus
Consensus means- Everyone agrees- RIGHT????  NO, it means….
•    I had the opportunity to share my opinions
•    I agree that the decision was arrived at fairly and openly
•    I will support the decision (even if it is not my preferred choice)

Once everyone gets on the same page and know the ground rules, the Integrated Design process can begin in earnest.  Steps may include:
  1. Review of project design parameters
  2. Site features, project size, budget, and schedule
  3. Establish project’s fundamental goals
SWOT analysis                         
    Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats

Establish Design Criteria        
  •     List up to 10, prioritize and rate criteria
  •     Objective, subjective, qualitative, quantitative
Identify High performance design strategies and review LEED checklist as a tool to lead the discussion.  Review:
  1. Sustainable Site
  2. Water
  3. Energy & Atmosphere
  4. Material and Resources
  5. Indoor Environment Quality
  6. Regional Priorities
  7. Innovation 
  8. Recap LEED checklist

Break out groups to dive in deeper to specific topics

Final Report/Summary at end of Charrette, including                

1.    Action Items / Next steps
2.    Evaluate the day
3.    Celebration

For more information:

                        Ask An Expert                           

Carlson Studio Architecture in Sarasota Florida was selected to design the “2009 HGTV Green Home” which was toured by thousands and viewed by millions on TV and the Web.

Carlson Studio Architecture has sought out to design sustainable projects throughout the United States and currently celebrates one of the highest numbers of LEED certified projects in the region. We are truely an expert resource at your disposal and encourage all non-profit and other organizations researching sustainable design or a LEED accredited architect to connect.

LEED Accredited Architect In Florida

Posted on Wed, Aug 13, 2014

How A LEED Accredited Architect In Florida Broke The Mold From The Start.

leed architect in floridaThey thought we were crazy. What is a LEED certified architecture project?

Carlson Studio Architecture has been a LEED accredited architect and designing green buildings since before it was cool.

In 2000, the pilot program to get a LEED certified project up and running was completed and LEED-NC v2.0 was launched.  Later that year, Carlson Studio Architecture began to design our first LEED certified project, the Twin Lakes Park Office complex for Sarasota County Government.  It became one of the first LEED certified projects in Florida, and was the highest scoring LEED-NC project until 2009.  It was designed as a demonstration LEED certified project to show what can be done in a commercial office building.  This was during the early days of the LEED credits, and getting the required documentation was not as easy as it is today. 

Manufacturer representatives did not know where their product were manufactured, what its recycled content was, or what volatile organic compounds, or other toxic chemicals it may contain. Many of the manufacturer’s representatives, subcontractors, and even some people from Sarasota County Government thought we were crazy. There were enough people involved in this LEED certified project to champion the sustainability goals of the project and it was completed successfully, and has served as a demonstration project and catalyst ever since.

The LEED certified TWIN LAKES PARK sustainability features included:


But the green building movement started slowly in Florida.  In the summer 2007 there were only 9 LEED Certified projects in the state.  They were…

  1. Twin Lakes Office Complex: Sarasota – Certified Gold
  2. North County Library: Sarasota – Certified Gold
  3. Whole Foods Market: Sarasota – first Certified Silver grocery store
  4. Happy Feet Plus: Clearwater – first Gold retail store
  5. Eugene M. & Christine Lynn Business Center: Stetson University - Certified
  6. Rinker Hall: University of FL  Gainesville – Certified Gold
  7. McGuire Center for Lepidoptera Research: University of FL, Gainesville - Certified
  8. Navy Federal Credit Union Remote Call Center: Pensacola, FL Certified Gold
  9. Deer Park Water Bottling Plant: Lee, FL – Certified Silver

Building momentum
By March of 2011 there were 300 LEED Certified projects completed and 1264 LEED registered projects.  In Sarasota County alone, there were 19 LEED Certified projects (remember there were 3 in the summer of 2007) and 54 LEED registered projects.

Jump ahead to 2013
In 2013, in Florida, there were 716 LEED certified projects, 182 LEED for Schools Certified projects, and 1,160 LEED certified residential units, totally over 68 million square feet of construction. Florida ranked 4th in total certified commercial buildings in the USA.  750 companies were USGBC members and there were over 9500 LEED accredited professionals in the state.

leed certified architect einstein resized 600Now who is crazy?

There is still many misconception about green building out there.  People claim to be LEED certified.  That is not possible.  Buildings can be LEED certified- people can be LEED accredited.  Products and manufacturers still claim get a project or material can achieve a certain number of LEED credits.  Individual products and materials can contribute to credits, but only when all materials are taken into account, not just the green materials.  And the certification is LEED.  There is no “S”.  Leeds is a city in the United Kingdom.

Carlson Studio has 14 years of experience designing green buildings and getting them certified.  We have been the architect on 11 successfully completed projects, and LEED consultant on 2 more.  One reason our projects are successful is we use a combination of passive and active design features, that work together, and do not really on technology alone.

I will leave you with this quote from E.B. White

“I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority.”

Contact Carlson Studio to get the expert feedback you need for your new project or request a no cost consultation:

Contact Options

Request A Consultation

Why Sustainable Design Works For The Bottom Line

Posted on Tue, Aug 05, 2014

The Business of Sustainability & Sustainable Architecture

Why do something different? 

sustainable design studio resized 600As business men and women, we are pretty good at what we do. In most cases we have also learned that in business, change involves risk.  In some businesses more than other but in the world of building design and architecture there are real risks of doing "business as usual" as well. Some of the current threats and opportunities associated with architectural designs are:

  • Cost of energy
  • Cost/scarcity of water
  • Climate Change: The Planet is stressed
  • Population Increase - 7 billion people and counting
  • Architectural design & Environmental Footprint - the world averages 4.5 acres per person to sustain that person, but the USA needs 20 acres per person. This is not productively utilizing sustainable designs, especially if everyone want to be like us.
  • Eco Systems provide basic services that we cannot afford to provide on our own.
  • Rising Insurance Risks
  • Geo-political risks
  • Scarcity of resources
  • Governments are taking action- Government is creating more regulation, not less
  • Carbon
  • Everything happening at once

One suggestion is to speak with a sustainable design expert. What can other decisions we make when we consider the design our facilities have on our businesses bottom line? What can better facilities do for your business?  Sustainable design buildings that:

  • use less energy
  • save water
  • save money
  • reduce operational costs
  • reduce the use of natural resources
  • reduce pollution.  
green construction example resized 600Well-designed green buildings (green design & green construction) can reduce water use by 30-70% and reduce electrical use by 25-50% without a lot of fancy, expensive technology.  Thoughtful green building design and improve the bottom line in other ways as well. Studies have shown ROI (return on investment) for incorporating a well-rounded sustainable design approach to building design.  Proven results include shorter hospital stays in green hospitals, better test results in green schools, increased sales per square foot in green retail stores, increased productivity in office environments and increased production in factory settings.  Even simple things like natural day light make a huge difference.

Doesn’t this all cost more?  Especially in the area of sustainable design & green construction, we need to talk about First Cost versus Life Cycle Cost.  It is about return on investment.

A Davis Langdon study shows projects of similar nature often cost at different rates due to many drivers; but Green is not one of them.  (Cost and Benefit of Achieving Green Buildings, 2007,  Davis Langdon)  Many decisions effect the cost of construction.  

Four key conclusions can be drawn from this study of construction costs for LEED-seeking versus non-LEED seeking projects:

  1. There is a very large variation in costs of buildings, even within the same building program category.

  2. Cost differences between buildings are due primarily to program type.

  3. There are low cost and high cost green buildings.
There are low cost and high cost non-green buildings.

Sustainable design must include the Triple Bottom Line. People, Planet and Profit. All three must succeed for sustainable design to succeed.

Quality sustainable design and green construction will prove many of the follow benefits to the people in your business:

  • Increased employee or tenant satisfaction
  • Improved productivity
  • Reduced absenteeism
For the Planet:
  • Reduced environmental impact
  • Optimal performance
  • Peak efficiency- don’t waste

For Profit:

  • Increased occupancy rates
  • Lower operational costs
  • Decreased churn costs

Increase Net Operating Income (NOI), A company's operating income after operating expenses are deducted, but before income taxes and interest are deducted. If this is a positive value, it is referred to as net operating income, while a negative value is called a net operating loss (NOL).

So does sustainable design and doing a green building cost more?  

The cost of the operations and employee salaries throughout the life of a typical building accounts for over 95% of the total cost of the building, while the initial construction is less than 5%.  So even if doing a LEED certified green building did cost a bit more in construction than barely code compliant construction that cost effects a small % of the overall cost of building and operating a facility.  But, when one makes good decisions up front in the design of the building, the facility can have a huge positive impact on the remaining 95% of the related costs of operating the building for decades to come.

We understand that these are complex and far reaching concerns and decisions. We encourage you to take the time and simply speak with a LEED certified, sustainable design architect in Florida. Just use the button below for a few different options you have that will help you continue your research and make the best decisions possible.

Contact Options

CSA Architect Jedd Heap, AIA, LEED AP Interviewed in SRQ Magazine

Posted on Wed, Nov 06, 2013

Interview with Architect Jedd W. Heap, AIA, LEED AP by Lexy Khelia, SRQ Media Group.

Every building tells a story and Jedd Heap is one of our storytellers. Inspired by community and architecture, he began studying this field at the University of Florida and has yet to stop pursuing
his passion. Having found inspiration in the perfect pair of creative design and local interaction that Carlson Studio Architecture offers, Heap now serves as the firm's architect, in addition to acting as a member and leader within many levels of the American Institute of Architects (AlA).

Read More

SRQ Magazine

jedd heap

CSA Designed Apostolic Church breaks ground in Estero, FL

Posted on Tue, Aug 27, 2013

August 25th, 2013 - The Apostolic Church of Estero broke ground Sunday at their new construction site just south of Ft Myers Florida. Both Carlson Studio Architecture and CORE Construction were represented at the ceremony.

The Apostolic Church project consists of a 300 person Sanctuary, a 2,800 sf Fellowship Hall and kitchen, four Sunday School classrooms, and a nursery. An oversized entry foyer was designed to serve as a secondary sanctuary, while a large exterior covered area has been provided for outside dinning off the Fellowship Hall.

ACC Ground breaking 013 resized 600

apostolic 031413e resized 600

TB Rays' hire CSA/PRA to develop Interior Design & Sustainability Guidelines

Posted on Thu, Aug 15, 2013

Carlson Studio Architecture and Plunkett Raysich Architects are pleased announce the latest project, Design Guidelines Development for the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field!

The CSA/PRA team will develop written and illustrated Design Guidelines suitable to be used as a guide for future interior remodeling and renovations inside Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. Our scope will include developing several grade levels of finishes, depending on the level of fan experience desired, into the illustrated manual. As part of the project, key team members will investigate the fan experience at both the Ray’s home stadium and other ballparks around the country. All recommendations will be filtered through sustainable design criteria, such as low environmental impact, energy conservation, water conservation, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality. Both CSA’s & PRA’s expertise in sustainable design will help the Ray’s deliver a wonderful & healthy fan experience in the future.

describe the image 

Carlson Studio Architecture of Sarasota and Plunkett Raysich Architects, LLP of Milwaukee WI and Sarasota, have formed a strategic partnership, which builds upon the unique industry expertise found in each firm: healthcare, primary and secondary education, higher education, long-term care, religious architecture, and multi-family housing. The alliance harnesses the talents of both firms, allowing each to expand and enhance their service to clients and prospects. The combined resources of the two organizations operate from CSA’s studio in downtown Sarasota, providing expanded capacity to deliver larger and more complex projects throughout Florida and beyond.

Carlson Studio's project featured on cover of TECTUM's 2013 Catalog!

Posted on Mon, Jun 24, 2013

Carlson Studio's LEED Gold Sun N Fun Lifestyle Wellness Center has been featured on the cover of world renowned product manufacture Tectum's 2013 catalog.

Tectum 2013 Catalog

Tectum SNF Job profile

"Keeping a Lid on Noise for Over 60 Years

Whether you require wall panels, ceiling panels, or an acoustical roof deck, Tectum Inc. has the right product for your noise problem. Our reputation for acoustical solutions in the commercial and institutional construction industries is well respected. With over 60 years experience in reducing noise worldwide, Tectum Inc. specializes in acoustic panels that are both abuse and impact resistant.

Easy to work with and install, Tectum panels and systems are cost effective and require little maintenance. They are available in natural, white or custom-painted finishes, and are field-paintable up to six times.

Tectum products are cementitious wood fiber acoustical panels composed of aspen wood fibers. All of our products carry a Class A/1 interior finish rating for flame and smoke. In addition, all Tectum products are "green" because they are manufactured using only renewable wood and other sustainable raw materials."


2013 Tectum Inc




Posted on Mon, Jun 24, 2013

This Saturday, June 29, our community will celebrate the life of a very special person by dedicating a unique memorial in her memory. Friends, family and the public are invited to celebrate the life of Leanna Knopik, with the dedication of Leanna’s Way, at the Center for Building Hope, 5481 Communications Parkway in Lakewood Ranch. The ceremony will begin at 10 a.m.

A bright, shining high school student, Leanna died last summer after bravely battling myocarditis, a rare viral infection of the heart. Just 16 years old, Leanna excelled in her studies at Riverview High School, was actively involved with Sarasota Crew, attained her black belt certification in Tai Kwan Do, and was very involved with her church youth group and Young Life. Her passing was sudden and yet it drew our community together in a loving and spiritual way.
Since her death, Leanna’s parents, Steve and Beth Knopik, with the support of their friends, felt a need to create a legacy in Leanna’s name to inspire others and honor their daughter. “Leanna touched thousands of people with her story of bravery and faith,” said Beth.
One way to do that was to create a structure named ‘Leanna’s Way’, a contemplative walk and observation tower, located on the campus for the Center for Building Hope, where her mother is a board member. The tower is nestled among native vegetation, overlooking 600 acres of pristine Florida landscape. The idea is for ‘Leanna’s Way’ to be a place for prayer, meditation and renewal within its peaceful natural surroundings.
A group of Sarasota’s most talented architects, builders, engineers and designers offered their time and talent to help realize their inspiration. Fundraising for the project was led by local restaurateur, Michael Klauber, and his wife, Terri, who worked tirelessly until $150,000 was raised to complete the Knopik’s vision for their daughter’s legacy. 

“Terri and I, along with our children, cherish our close friendship with the Knopik family. Like so many, we were shocked by Leanna’s sudden passing, but instantly felt the tremendous legacy of love she left with our family and community.” said Michael Klauber. “We were immediately driven to help fulfill Beth’s dream and support ‘Leanna’s Way’, which is now an everlasting precious gift to so many.”
Carlson Studio Architecture designed both ‘Leanna’s Way’ and the Center of Building Hope. Principal Michael Carlson noted, “Through the realization of ‘Leanna’s Way’, the Center for Building Hope is able to fully capitalize on the benefits of nature for health and well-being. The walkway design is intended to honor Leanna’s spirit by inspiring and fostering hope for people in their time of need.”
Stantec provided site planning and engineering services, site plan drawings, permitting assistance with Sarasota County and construction surveying services. Mike Bell, senior principal of Stantec added, “I am honored to be involved with any project at the Center for Building Hope, especially when we have the in-house professional capabilities to make a difference in the project. With a teenager of my own, I understand the desire to make this a special project for the Knopiks that will share the love of Leanna with all who visit this great community asset for many years to come.”
David Young, principal of DWY Landscape Architects, developed the landscape design for both the Center for Building hope and Leanna’s Way. “We are honored to have been a part of both projects,” Young said. “We believe the natural environment provides a wonderful opportunity for spiritual reflection and healing. Our goal was to develop an inspired design for both projects where visitors can take advantage of the therapeutic benefits of gardens and nature to begin the healing process.”
Refreshments will be served during Saturday’s celebration, and attendees will be able to purchase a commemorative brick in Leanna’s honor that will soon become part of the entry to ‘Leanna’s Way’.
A poem written about Leanna will be recited to the crowd and friends, family and all who attend will be able to express their thoughts and feelings by writing “Letters of Love for Leanna” which they can then attach to the structure.
“We are deeply touched by the community’s support. The contemplation walk and observation tower, beautifully constructed of ipe’ wood, will enhance the experience offered at The Center for Building Hope. ‘Leanna’s Way’ will be a place for meditation, reflection, relaxation and to simply be,” said Beth.

Leannas way sm 

Partners in the Leanna’s Way Project include:

Willis A. Smith Construction Inc.

Carlson Studio Architecture

Stantec Inc.

DWY Landscape Architects

For more information about Leanna’s Way and the Center for Building Hope:

Center for Building Hope offers free information, programs and services to cancer patients, caregivers and family members, while connecting them with others who are undergoing a similar experience.




Carlson Studio Project featured in Washington DC exhibit

Posted on Thu, May 23, 2013

Carlson Studio Architecture’s design of the newly completed Lifestyle and Wellness Center, located at the Sun N Fun Resort in Sarasota was featured by the American Institute of Architects (AIA).  The annual exhibition is presented at AIA National’s headquarters, the American Center for Architecture, in Washington, DC. The exhibition is on display from February through April 2013, and was viewed by over 700 attendees in conjunction with the annual AIA Grassroots Leadership and Legislative Conference.  The American Institute of Architects, Center for Emerging Professionals sponsors this annual exhibition of architectural work, art, and designs of emerging architectural professionals across North America.  

The Lifestyle and Wellness Center, an 18,000 SF facility, was designed by Jedd Heap, AIA LEED AP, of Carlson Studio Architecture for local resort Sun N Fun. The building is comprised of a therapy spa, a 25 meter indoor pool, exercise rooms that overlook the pool from the second floor, along with an upstairs aerobics room, steam & sauna rooms, locker rooms and access to adjacent exterior spas and pools.  The project received prestigious LEED Gold Certification from the US Green Building Council (USGBC) in 2012.


AIA DC exhibit Jedd Heap small 

All Posts | Next Page