High Performance Design + Build (Intro)
Whether or not you believe that humans are impacting earth and global warming is actually happening, most can agree that there are ways to achieve high performance design + build that are more efficient and can save money over the long-term. Most certainly, the design + construction industry has the means and expertise to design strategies into buildings that use less energy, require less maintenance, and provide more comfort. So, if we are spending less money/time/effort in maintaining a property, then we are spending more time/money/effort on the things we enjoy (quality of life), for the long-term.
So if while doing the above, we are also impacting the environment in a more positive, sustainable way, then isn’t that a win-win?
As architects, we learn early-on as students, the benefits of taking environment and overall context into consideration when designing. We study historical precedents from the beginning of recorded human history – how mankind evolved and how architecture supported civilizations. And it’s no accident that buildings have responded to not just cultures, but particulars of place, including the extremes of local environments throughout the world. Buildings provide shelter. And thus, different regions require different kinds of shelters responding to local environments, in addition to cultural and functional needs.
But over time, traditions evolve. Sharing is constant. Region-specific solutions make their way to other regions and mix with other cultures. As mankind developed new technologies, these technologies gave us the ability to control the environment more-so than before. Air conditioning and other advances have allowed society to ignore the local environment to some degree. Also, media, travel, and information-access and sharing has helped create a global marketplace, allowing worldwide sharing of ideas (including design, technology, natural resources). The world is becoming smaller and smaller, faster and faster, with information and travel at our fingertips. Regional and cultural design methodologies and techniques continue to cross traditional boundaries. And overall, the world is becoming more modern, homogenized, and less local.
From an architectural design + build standpoint, this cross pollination or bounds-crossing can result in a perceived lack of authenticity. It can create buildings that don’t appear to fit their environment or culture. In many cases, this is absolutely true. However, isn’t this melding of ideas and cultures a timeless concept – eventually leading to innovation and new ways of thinking?
This ongoing evolution may be considered both negative and positive. On the downside, traditionalists may lament that cultures are eroding due to “globalization“. And perhaps, could this ongoing evolution be affecting the environment? If so, how and how much? Or are these changes helping to advance cultures and civilizations (quality of life)? And further, are these changes improving our ability to collaborate at a global-scale, bringing people and nations together to help solve our biggest world challenges now and into the future?
What’s the Point?
What can we do at the grassroots level? Well, despite our access to tech and information, we need to be designing projects that respond to particulars of place. This includes designing sympathetically to respect the history of a place (culture). It includes fitting-in to the political landscape of a place (functional). And last but not least, it includes designing for the local climate of a place (environmental). As a society, and as a design + build industry, let’s continue to share information, learn from one another, and do our best to do good design work on all levels, but particularly as it pertains to environmental stewardship.
These are significant topics, and we’d like to do our small part to support global initiatives that align with our locale + client goals. We believe it is a cultural responsibility to consider sustainability in our lives. This is particularly true in the design + build fields. Most certainly, buildings consume a large portion of world energy and resources. Although we have not branded our firm around “high-performance” design + building, we take the topic very seriously, and our projects perform to a very high level. That’s just good design and common sense, and we will continually strive to do better. The momentum to achieve low-impact solutions continues to become mainstream. In the fields of design + construction, we believe that high performance, sustainable solutions will continue to evolve and become an expected baseline, rather than unique branding proposition.
Accordingly, it’s becoming a new normal that our clients come to us with some form of interest in energy efficiency. In fact, many have done quite a bit of research before contacting us. However, it makes sense that these ideas support, not dominate the idea of creating an ideal environment. In any case, we engage a conversation around high-performance design at the front-end while reviewing all project goals (Programming). Ultimately, the degree to which our buildings are lower-impact and resilient will align with how much our clients value environmental sustainability.
Case Studies – High Performance Design + Build
As you will notice while perusing our gallery of projects, we like to tell stories about the process of design and construction. So be sure to scroll downward and see our case studies about the process. We’ll continue to highlight the important aspects of the projects we feature. And for sure, we’ll continue to highlight high-performance design + build features designed into our projects. What worked best, what worked least, what challenges did we face, how are things performing. Also, we’ll continue to highlight why it makes sense for your architect to also lead the construction phase to not only oversee that we achieve the big-picture design intent, but also help ensure high-performance results (WERK | Building Modern).
Thanks for checking out our website, and please be sure to check-back for updates. We continue to refresh our stories and topics regularly!