Anne Hicks Harney elevated to AIA College of Fellows

February 12, 2016
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“Great architecture requires superior design ideas supported by technically proficient and sustainably minded detailing and execution. We need to create a culture of sustainability to assure consistently high performing design is all that we are presenting to the world.”
– Anne Hicks Harney, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C

Ayers Saint Gross is proud to announce Anne Hicks Harney, Director of Sustainability, has been elevated to the College of Fellows by the American Institute of Architects (AIA). This is one of the highest honors the AIA can bestow, and it recognizes the achievements of the architect as an individual who has made significant contributions to architecture and society. Only approximately 3% of architects ever achieve this honor.

By merging a deep knowledge of building materials with a passion for critical environmental issues, Anne Hicks Harney leads the sustainable material transparency movement both within the architectural profession and the industry at large.

Anne tirelessly pursues the highest level of integrated sustainable design. Through her practice, she has become one of the nation’s leading experts on high performance design. Through her research and activism, she has become an influential nationwide advocate for greater understanding of the environmental and health effects of building materials. She educates firm employees as well as the architectural community on material transparency, sustainable architecture, and high performance design, with a focus on re-shaping the profession’s environmental impact.

As the firm’s first Director of Sustainability, she works with all teams on sustainability issues, pushing the firm to achieve higher performance across their portfolio of projects. Under her leadership, Ayers Saint Gross became one of the nation’s leaders in sustainable architecture, planning, and design. In 2015, ARCHITECT Magazine ranked Ayers Saint Gross at 19 in sustainability among the nation’s architecture firms. Seventy percent of the firm’s professionals are LEED-accredited and all projects meet the minimum equivalency of a LEED Silver rating through resource-efficient design strategies.

Anne’s knowledge of building materials and environmental issues is evident in her role as Ayers Saint Gross’ lead technical writer where she executes the firm’s entire portfolio of projects. Anne uses her extensive knowledge of building products to work with project teams to improve selections. Her main focus is on material selection and deployment, supporting teams in articulating design ideas, turning them into durable, efficient, and environmentally sound structures.

Additionally, Anne is co-chair of the National AIA Materials Knowledge Working Group. This group creates tools to assist architects with material selection, and oversees the corresponding education. She is a member of the USGBC Materials and Resources Technical Advisory Group (MR TAG), and is the co-founder of the Building Enclosure Council – Baltimore. Many organizations have recognized her excellence in sustainability, including USGBC Maryland which awarded her its 2013 Green Building Leader Award. Anne’s leadership in sustainability and technical initiatives within the firm elevate the caliber of our design dialogue about high performance buildings. Her efforts also ensure that energy efficiency, water efficiency, and material health are integral to every Ayers Saint Gross project.

Anne was the sustainability lead for the John and Frances Angelos Law Center at the University of Baltimore. This project, a 2014 AIA COTE top ten winner, exemplifies the firm’s integrated approach to sustainable design.

Glenn Birx, principal at Ayers Saint Gross said, “For our clients and peers, Anne’s elevation makes a statement that Ayers Saint Gross is at the forefront of the profession for sustainability issues. We care deeply about real sustainability from conception through years of building management, and are leading the nationwide effort to encourage the material transparency movement.”

Anne Hicks Harney, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C shares her expertise nationwide with speaking engagements at notable conferences including AIA National Convention, USGBC’s Greenbuild, and the Living Future Institute’s unConference. Her work at Ayers Saint Gross includes work on 33 LEED Certified projects, totaling over $1 billion in environmentally improved construction across the nation.

Anne joins other Fellows in the firm including Luanne Greene, Adam Gross, Glenn Birx, and Ed Kohls.

It’s CSA time again!

February 4, 2016
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Did you know the average American meal travels approximately 1500 miles from where it’s grown to where it’s eaten? There’s a lot of energy tied up in food production and transportation and supporting local agriculture can decrease food’s carbon footprint as well as create more resilient, diverse economies. Ayers Saint Gross believes in supporting our local economy and making sustainable lifestyles easier for our employees, so we’ve supported local community supported agriculture (CSA) by hosting weekly on-site CSA delivery for employees of our Baltimore office since 2013.

Dana Perzynski of the planning group coordinates office participation with One Straw Farm in the late winter months each year and food begins coming into the office in June. Perzynski says, “I make time to coordinate the CSA because I believe in supporting local farms and healthy eating. I’ve also found that it builds office camaraderie through the sharing of recipes and colleagues gawking together over sweet potatoes the size of a human head! I also like organizing things in general and I get a complimentary share for myself for coordinating the CSA…a major bonus!”

There are lots of reasons to participate in the CSA says Jonathan Ceci of the landscape studio, “I really enjoy the diversity of the produce. The share includes many kinds of vegetables that I would not normally pick up at the grocery store. Before participating in the CSA, I had never been exposed to so many species of Brassica! The quantities are often quite generous which allows for sharing with friends and family.”

Having the CSA delivery in the office has also supported lots of new recipes. Says Amber Wendland of the planning studio, “I enjoy cooking some of the more obscure veggies for family and friends and then making them guess what they just ate.”

Andrew Bernish, also of the planning studio, echoed similar sentiments, “I participated my first year at Ayers Saint Gross because it gave me the opportunity to incorporate new veggies into my meals at home. Actually ‘gave me is a bit soft – it ‘forced my hand’ to incorporate new items like kohlrabi and celtuce; alien-looking veggies I likely would not have purchased yet happily devoured.”

Sign-ups for this year’s CSA are happening between now and March 1, 2016. Food delivery is slated to begin the week of June 8 and runs for 24 weeks.

2015 Greenbuild Recap

December 1, 2015
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Greenbuild, USGBC’s annual green building conference, was held November 16 – November 21 in Washington, DC. Because Ayers Saint Gross is committed to a sustainable future and keeping our professional knowledge as up-to-date as possible, three of our team attended the conference in full in addition to many who stopped in for a day on the expo hall floor. The conference featured building tours, an expo floor filled with the latest products and technologies, and education sessions – including one presented by our own Anne Hicks Harney.

Anne’s session titled “Product Rules,” was presented with Kristen Ritchie, Principal / Director of Sustainable Design at Gensler, Paula Melton, Senior Editor at BuildingGreen, Inc., and Jennifer Atlee, Technical Liaison at Health Product Declaration (HPD) and covered the increasingly important topic of material transparency. As LEEDv4 replaces LEED 2009 in November 2016, credits will be available for project teams that specify and build with products that disclose their material ingredients and human health impacts. The session used Michael Pollan’s book Food Rules for inspiration to lay our 12 basic LEEDv4 Materials and Resources and Environmental Quality rules concerning various environmental concepts and product elements.

Allison Wilson also spoke on the Greenbuild expo floor as part of a panel discussion held at Sefaira’s booth. The discussion focused on how early design can benefit from energy modeling and the various successes and lessons learned from using Sefaira in practice. Allison spoke with Kate Bubriski, Senior Associate at Arrowstreet, Jeff Evans, Associate at HKIT Architects, and Rachel Bannon-Godfrey, Director of Sustainability at RNL Design, to highlight how the different firms have benefited from using Sefaira and intend to continue using the software in future. At Ayers Saint Gross, we’ve found particular value using energy modeling at the conclusion of the schematic design phase to evaluate the efficacy of various shading strategies on overall building performance.

While many sessions caught our interest, the information presented in “Impact of Green Building on Cognitive Function and Health,” on Friday morning is the session we think we’ll all be talking about until the next Greenbuild. The session presented research performed by Harvard University about the relationship between indoor environmental quality and cognitive function. The researchers performed an experiment in which subjects completed a number of cognitive tests in an indoor environment that meets the air quality requirements set forth by LEED and compared the results of subjects’ tests scores to the test scores of subjects who were asked to perform the same cognitive tests in a more normative environment with high levels of CO2. The results of the research correlate increased CO2 levels with poorer cognitive function and provide quantitative support for the long-standing argument that green buildings help occupants function better.

The conference inspired us to continue striving for higher levels of performance in our buildings and reminded us that green buildings are closely related to improved human health. Have a subject you’d like to learn more about at the next Greenbuild? Let us know, and we’ll research it, find appropriate collaborators, and submit a proposal to speak at Greenbuild 2016 in Los Angeles!

Over-Cladding for Thermal Performance and Building Resiliency

November 29, 2015
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While Ayers Saint Gross dominantly works on college and university campuses, we’ve also had opportunities to serve institutional clients such as Johns Hopkins Hospital, most recently in re-skinning Nelson Harvey Building on their downtown, urban hospital campus. This 1970s era, nine-story, in-patient tower maintained a sound structural frame, but was suffering from a poorly insulated, failing building enclosure. The project offered a unique opportunity to improve building performance and resiliency by over-cladding the existing envelope. This design strategy allowed the team to address the project’s four major challenges:

  • Renovation required compliance with Baltimore City’s Green Building Standards (BCGBS).
  • Complete demolition of the existing building enclosure was cost-prohibitively expensive.
  • Hospital operations needed to be continuously operational on the first and second floors of the project through construction.
  • The design and construction schedule for the building enclosure was tied to an existing project designed by Wilmot Sanz to renovate the tower’s patient rooms that had already reached the end of Design Development. The enclosure design and documentation would need to catch up with that project’s schedule so the interior and exterior renovations could occur concurrently.

While Ayers Saint Gross’s over-cladding strategy addressed the major issues of sustainability, project cost, continuous operations, and project schedule, the strategy also needed to address technical and aesthetic concerns:

  • Ayers Saint Gross needed to provide relief to the existing brick envelope and stabilize it against future failure.
  • Improvements in thermal performance and infiltration were critical.
  • The solution would need to be constructed primarily from the exterior of the building to minimize impediments to hospital operations.
  • In consultation with our structural engineer, Columbia Engineering, we were advised that we could add only 5% to the dead load of the building without overburdening the existing structure.
  • The design aesthetic of the envelope needed to align with the hospital’s dominant red brick palette.

To address these technical challenges, the over-cladding material palette included curtainwall to introduce greater access to daylight and views to patient rooms, thin-set brick on insulated precast concrete panels to maintain the campus’s brick aesthetic, and insulated metal panel to improve thermal performance while keeping the new envelope’s dead weight down. The existing masonry envelope was largely left intact within the new envelope with selective demolition allowing for the new envelope to be tied back to the existing structure. The application of the new envelope provides superior thermal performance that the existing envelope could not achieve.

Leaving most of the existing masonry envelope in place allowed the design to capitalize on the potential of the existing building’s infrastructure by providing resiliency in terms of fire and air-borne noise resistance and additional thermal mass for improved internal climate control and moderation. The retention of a significant portion of the existing envelope also provided an enclosure for the building during the construction process that shortened construction schedules and improved budgets by limiting the time allotted for demolition, hauling of debris, erection of temporary walls and barriers, and limiting the exposure of the building materials to the exterior environment of moisture and dust. Limiting demolition also decreased the wasteful hauling of debris, thus reducing the project’s carbon footprint.

We term the comprehensive approach used at Nelson Harvey to develop a high-performance enclosure for an aging structure “recycling in place.” This strategy provided a hybrid solution that took best advantage of the new to achieve thermal over-cladding while simultaneously celebrating the old to enable passive cooling, natural ventilation, and increased thermal mass. Over-cladding with a new thermal high-performance envelope improved energy performance and energy conservation through improved insulation and moisture mitigation strategies in addition to providing an aesthetic improvement that successfully positioned the aging building as a viable part of the master plan for decades to come.

CCIT Earns LEED Gold Certification

September 16, 2015
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The Center for Communications and Information Technology (CCIT) at Frostburg State University designed by Ayers Saint Gross has just achieved LEED Gold certification. LEED, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, is the United States Green Building Council’s premier green building certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices. LEED certified buildings have a positive impact on occupant health, use energy efficiently, and minimize negative environmental impacts from construction. To receive LEED certification, building projects satisfy prerequisites and earn credits to achieve different levels of certification.

The CCIT forges connections among dispersed academic departments and encourages the public to engage with its programs. The three-story building occupies a key juncture between the university’s performing arts center, science center and student union, responding to its site with an accessible and inviting design. The Center benefits from this centralized location and at least 10 basic services and public transportation are within a ½ mile walking radius. On-site bicycle storage spaces and changing facilities as well as preferred parking for low-emitting/fuel-efficient vehicles and carpools promote alternate modes of transportation.

Mediating a steep slope between the historic campus core and more contemporary lower campus, the CCIT is arranged around an outdoor courtyard to provide a gathering space and a threshold reached from existing pathways. The site design maximizes vegetated open space and manages stormwater quality while hardscape and roofing material selections minimize the heat island effect.

Additional LEED highlights include minimized potable water demands via low-flow fixtures throughout the project and native landscaping that requires no permanent irrigation system. The project employs energy-efficiency measures such as a high performance building envelope, reduced interior lighting power density, and a high efficiency condensing boiler to realize energy savings. Refrigerants were selected that minimize the potential for ozone depletion and global warming.

The contractor diverted most construction wastes from landfill to minimize construction’s environmental impacts. Specifications also favored products with recycled content and regional sourcing. Individualized controls for lighting and thermal comfort provide occupants the opportunity to adjust the indoor environment to their unique needs. Low-emitting materials were installed throughout to ensure good indoor air quality and outdoor air delivery is monitored.

The project’s exemplary minimization of potable water use and inclusion of a LEED Accredited Professional earned the project innovation points.

At a glance statistics about the project include:

  • Reduction in water use: 41%
  • Reduction in energy use: 28%
  • Construction waste diverted: 86%
  • Regional materials: 21%
  • Recycled content: 25%

I-95 Travel Plazas Win USGBC Maryland Award!

April 1, 2015
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Ayers Saint Gross is pleased to announce its Interstate 95 Maryland House and Chesapeake House Travel Plazas won USGBC Maryland’s 2015 Small Commercial Project award!

This award was presented by USGBC Maryland Wintergreen, the organization’s annual recognition of high performance, healthy building design by USGBC Maryland region projects, businesses, and chapter members. The event was hosted at the Horseshoe Casino Baltimore in mid-February and was attended by two hundred green building professionals and leaders.

See full list of winners

The Maryland House and Chesapeake House Travel Plazas project scope included the redevelopment of both existing rest stops on I-95 in Maryland. The rest stop typology is inherently automobile-driven and emerged as a result of traveler dependence on the conveniences of fuel, food, and facilities. Ease of access is key and both projects are sited in gap spaces between the northbound and southbound lanes of the highway. The projects serve more than 5 million annual visitors and the project was challenged to both maintain the programmatic necessities (surface parking, large fixture counts, etc.) and promote sustainability.

The design promotes sustainability through the integration of outdoor patios and paths softened by indigenous plantings and infused with interpretative site signage to engage and educate visitors about the significance and beauty of the natural landscape. The site redesign also provided opportunities for the design team to improve the surrounding habitats and watershed through a remediation and rebuilding of existing subgrade storage tanks at service stations, the introduction of engineered site design facilities, and strategically located native plantings. The team also minimized site disturbance by building on the footprint of the existing facilities. To optimize building performance for the 24 hour-a-day operations, the projects work to incorporate daylight and provide a high performance building envelope.

Notable features and statistics of the design strategy include:

  • 25% reduction in impervious surfaces from the existing conditions, minimizing storm water runoff.
  • On-site storm water management that removes 80% of Total Suspended Solids (TSS).
  • High albedo materials cover 80% of the building roof area to minimize heat island effect.
  • Preserved open space is a combination of protected existing habitat and restored native plantings.
  • The building systems and envelope design account for a building energy performance that is 26% more efficient than the baseline case.
  • A 40% reduction in water usage in the building is accomplished through low-flow fixtures.
  • The materials used in the projects include 30% recycled content, 30% regional sourcing, and FSC certified woods.
  • Interior spaces welcome daylight from window walls at two ends and ceilings sloping to a continuous light monitor (Maryland House) and a hovering clerestory pop-up (Chesapeake House).

The Travel Plaza Operations and Maintenance Team is committed to maintaining an environmentally friendly building and site through programs and policies requiring sustainability focused staff training and guided supervision, as well as a Green Housekeeping Policy. Building signage guides visitors through the components of the building design that contribute to a healthier environment and we encourage you to check out these two award winning projects on your next road trip on I-95!