Page C1.1 . 06 May 2009                     
ArchitectureWeek - Culture Department
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QUIZ

Solid Green Practice

by Brian Libby

Given the urgency of our response to climate change and other environmental needs, is it really okay to keep building new non-green buildings?

Here are nine U.S. firms that took sustainability to heart and made green design a centerpiece of their work, and have now taken the next logical step: they have committed to create only green buildings, from here on out.

According to each of these firms, they are no longer designing any non-green projects. The firms' portfolios include projects for which LEED certification has been or will be sought, as well as projects that demonstrate a comparably high level of sustainability in design, materials, and performance, but for which LEED certification will not be sought.

Despite the outstanding work of these broadly excellent design practices, it took a fair amount of sleuthing to identify this group. It's interesting that few of these firms make a public point of being an all-green practice. In general, their philosophy is that environmentally sensitive design is simply an integral element of "good design" overall.

There may also be an element of pragmatism in their collective modesty. As Florida-based architect Lawrence Maxwell described in a seminar presentation at last week's national AIA Convention, at times, depending on the client, a "stealth sustainability" approach can be the most effective way to bring up the environmental performance of a given project.

At the same time, alongside every green design practice, there are also vital teams that include flexible and committed green clients and green builders, too.   >>>

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The Aldo Leopold Legacy Center in Baraboo, Wisconsin, designed by The Kubala Washatko Architects, is LEED Platinum-certified.
Photo: Kevin Matthews/ Artifice Images

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Kubala Washatko's Urban Ecology Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, occupies a constrained urban site.
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