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The Sustainable Design Blog

For the love of beauty, functionality, and the planet Earth

10 ways to tell green architecture firms apart from the rif-raff

Green architecture is a great idea.

Sustainability and environmental consciousness are important to you. You make choices throughout your life, weighing convenience, costs, and personal well-being with your commitment to leave the world in a better state than when you arrived.

Because of this, you seek green alternatives whenever and wherever you can. You read labels, compare specs, and make the best choices you can based on the information that’s readily available.

And if you’re about to build a new structure, you have an incredible opportunity to incorporate principals of sustainability that will have an enormous impact on the world we live in – for many years to come. That’s why it’s probably a good idea to poke around and make sure you are engaging a firm where “green” is woven into their DNA, not just a marketing ploy to snag some extra business.

Because of that we’ve put together a list of ways to weed out the real green architecture firms from the rif-raff.

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Topics: Sustainable Design, Green Design

Construction cost vs Project cost

Why "construction cost" shouldn't be the only thing on your mind before breaking ground:

So often we are asked, "what is it going to cost me to construct this building?" Or even, “How much per square foot does it cost to build a (fill in the blank) building?” 

I hear it at work, at parties, from friends and family... I get it, and I actually love how much faith you put into our expertise on the subject, and it is something we actually help people with quite regularly. But it's hardly a matter of looking at a picture (or imagining what you describe) and spitting out a figure about how much your project is going to cost.

But that isn't what you were asking to begin with. This is about construction costs, which, by itself is a loaded request - it should be about project costs, because there are so many variables and hidden soft and related costs that you won't come even close to coming in at budget without considering the weight they also carry.

It's the kind of weight that could stop your project dead in its tracks.

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Topics: project architect, Costs, Industry lingo

How Building a Green Home Can Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

(Click HERE to see the green home design shown above)


Building a green home with your carbon footprint in mind is key:

Building a green home is a key step to reducing your carbon footprint.  Here in the USA we are about 5% of the world’s population, but we use about 25% of the world’s energy, and much of the energy used has a significant carbon footprint.

Hearing that we're leading the world in energy consumption is nothing new, but the entire world is now striving to be like the USA in their standard of living, consumerism, and energy consumption. If we stay on this carbon based energy trajectory, we will need 9 planets to sustain humans here... which, of course, is not an option.

There is a lot you can do to reduce your carbon foot when you build a new home.  There are also advantages to remodeling your existing home or office building and preserving the embodied energy in that existing structure.


 ANOTHER LIKE THIS: How to Incorporate Embodied Energy into Your Green Building Designs



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Topics: carbon footprint, LEED Certified Home Design, Sustainable Design

How to incorporate embodied energy into your green building designs

Embrace embodied energy with your green designs:

By designing and constructing more sustainable buildings, it is important to first recognize that these structures are absolutely LOADED with embodied energy. What's that, you ask?

Embodied energy is the energy cost it took to remove something from nature, transport it wherever it goes, manufacture it, and install it.

- From the trees that were harvested to make up the structure, to all the natural resources and manmade components that provide infrastructure, furniture, fixtures, and equipment. All the materials that go into the construction of a building have embodied energy in them, and we should be finding ways to incorporate them whenever possible and practical.

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Topics: renewable energy, Green Design

Elevate your green Architectural Design Concept with Biophilia

Biophilic design? What's that?

No, it’s not something you need to see the doctor for – but it MAY actually be the cure to what ails your lackluster green building design. As much as you may care about incorporating energy saving ideas into your building  - whether it be for your love of nature or saving money, integrating nature will help you truly embrace your focus on going green.

We as humans are connected to nature and prefer to be immersed in it, so by incorporating elements of into our structures, we stand to reap all sorts of benefits.

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Topics: Green Design, Nature

How to Choose the right contractor for your green Home Design project

Congratulations on your choice for a green home! Now it's time to ensure it's a smooth build.

When most people set out to build their green home, the obvious first step is to find the right design team. And while I agree, you want to partner with an architectural firm that puts green first, as in, the idea of sustainability isn't an after thought, but rather, a fully integrated component in the planning process - you also want your construction crew to be thinking in the same terms.

When approached with a new project, it's rare for our clients to have a contractor already involved, so they turn to us for referrals. However, unlike your design team, you need your construction crew to be as local as possible, so even though we have our favorites, they're not always the best option due to their location.

It IS something that should be handled at the outset of your design process, because the integrated approach will save you a lot of hassle, and help you get the most efficient building that meets and exceeds your expectations.

We always recommend hiring your contractor at the same time as you hire your design team.

So, I put together a list of to-dos and questions to help you find the best contractor for your project.


MORE LIKE THIS: How to Save Yourself (Not Your Planet) With Sustainable Home Design


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Topics: Residential, Sustainable Design, Green Design

How to save yourself (not your planet) with sustainable home design

Sustainable home design intuitively points toward saving the planet, but what you may not know is that you're actually saving yourself.

Green Build 2015 in Washington DC just finished up. It was the 13th straight USGBC Green Build Conference I attended since its humble but powerful beginning in 2002. With nearly 30,000 attendees today, the conference is starting turn heads in more than just the architectural community, and it was really exciting to see so much enthusiasm for sustainability.


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Topics: LEED Certified Home Design, Green Design

Why the 21st conference of parties is so important for Sustainability

The 21st Conference of Parties (COP 21) has begun in Paris, and will continue through December 11th.


The governments of nearly 200 countries are gathering to discuss a new global agreement on climate change, with participation from an estimated 40,000 attendees. More than half of the countries there will be represented by their heads of State, and 170 countries have already submitted their plans.


In other words, this is a really big deal!

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Topics: green renewal, Climate Change Facts

Why Choose A Green Roofing System?


How do you define a "green roof"?

A green roof can have one or more of the following characteristics, depending on the goals of your project.

  1. Long Lasting
  2. Heat Reflective
  3. Vegetative
  4. Habitat Creating
  5. Storm Water Management
  6. Proper Orientation

Before I continue, here are some related materials that will help you with your research on the benefits of green building:

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A First & last: Floating LEED Certified Building


We have highlighted a number of LEED Certified buildings on our website. We have residential, commercial, non-profit, and more. However, this new project is the first and possibly the only floating, LEED certified building in The United States!


It's called Cottonwood Cove, and although we designed it here in Sarasota, Florida, it's located in Nevada.


Some other projects that you might find interesting:

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Topics: LEED Certified Building


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