Ayers Saint Gross Reaches $1B in LEED Construction

October 19, 2016
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Last month, Ayers Saint Gross reached an important and exciting milestone in our sustainable journey. With the LEED Silver certification of Georgetown University’s Ryan and Isaac Halls, our firm crossed the billion-dollar mark, having produced $1 billion in LEED certified construction.

To celebrate, we’ve created an infographic that illustrates exactly what $1,000,000,000 in LEED construction looks like. Congratulations to everyoneclients, designers, partners, and of course the USGBCwho made this tremendous achievement possible. I’m particularly grateful to Emory University, the University of Maryland system, and the University of Virginia, which collectively make up 14 of our 34 LEED projects. It’s wonderful to see clients build with sustainability in mind, and then come back for more when they see its many benefits. Great clients make for great buildings.

Here’s to the next billion. We’re already on our way with the pending certification of the Earl G. Graves School of Business and Management at Morgan State University.
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Green Week 2016: Planning for the Future

April 18, 2016
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In a sense, every week is Green Week at Ayers Saint Gross. Building thoughtfully and responsibly is part of every project we undertake, and all of our studios incorporate sustainability into their work. 72% of our technical staff is LEED accredited, we’ve helped develop guidelines so partners in the industry can make smart decisions about building materials, and we’ve won awards for our projects. It’s just what we do as a part of our mission of engaging people and places to create designs that enrich the world.

But we really lean into it during our annual Green Week, which kicks off today. We’ve planned educational and collaborative events that bring sustainability to the forefront of firm-wide discussions, right where they belong. We’re bringing together a broad cross-section of the firm to discuss the role of high-performance design in our work, and to brainstorm ways our internal sustainability team can better support everyone’s projects.

Allison Wilson, AIA, LEED AP BD+C will present on LEED 2009 vs. LEED v4 in both our Washington, DC and Baltimore offices.

“Preparing ourselves to guide clients through LEED v4 is an important priority,” Wilson said. “It’s exciting to bring this Green Week event to multiple offices and share this expertise broadly.”

There’s sometimes a perception that environmentalism is a back-to-nature Luddite endeavor; I strongly disagree. In fact, creative thinking and cutting edge technology are essential to sustainable design. I’m presenting to my colleagues on the path to net-zero buildings. Achieving net-zero energy performance on an annual basis is important in our building work. Even if a project is ultimately unable to hit this metric, getting close is still a remarkable amount of energy savings.

Additionally, Kristina Abrams, AIA, LEED AP BD+C organized a 3D fabrication presentation. This will be a panel presentation which will address more sustainable manufacturing, while providing a pathway to incorporate this process into our work.

On Earth Day itself, Friday April 22, we’ll wrap up with a peer group discussion about how we currently incorporate sustainability into our practice and what more we can do to go above and beyond client expectations.

We’re always finding and sharing ideas about sustainable design. To learn more about sustainability at Ayers Saint Gross, please download the firm’s sustainability action plan. As I said, every week is Green Week around here.

12 Rules for Better, Healthier, Greener Building Products

March 30, 2016
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As Sustainability Director and Specification Writer at Ayers Saint Gross, one of my main focus areas is assuring that we select building products carefully, to meet the requirements of our clients and the building users.

I recently presented a session entitled “Product Rules” at Greenbuild, USGBC’s annual conference. Drawing inspiration from Michael Pollan’s book “Food Rules,” these Product Rules provide 12 basic guidelines for selecting better, healthier, more environmentally responsible products and materials. I developed them in close collaboration with Paula Melton, Senior Editor at BuildingGreen; Jennifer Atlee, Sustainable Material Consultant at PROSOCO; and Kirsten Ritchie, Director of Sustainable Design at Gensler.

The session received such great feedback that BuildingGreen is re-running the session as a webinar (available soon). BuildingGreen also developed an easy-to-read and educational infographic, available here for download.

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Americans tend to believe that if a product is on the market, someone makes sure that it is safe. We increasingly understand that this is not necessarily true.

We are on a mission to encourage all product manufacturers to disclose information about the environmental life-cycle impacts, sourcing information, and clear direction on exactly what material ingredients are incorporated into their products. These rules reflect these concerns.

By merging a deep knowledge of building materials with a passion for critical environmental issues, we can drastically improve our buildings, providing better environments for all.