LEED Platinum successes

I’ve been very priveledged to work on a few high performance buildings during the past five years of consulting with Serena Sturm Architects in Chicago. My first two projects to seek LEED certification have achieved LEED Platinum, the highest level of green building performance in the United States. I guess this makes me a LEED expert now, but more importantly, the experience is galvanizing an approach to low energy building that addresses the role buildings play in the energy economy. The approach is to minimize the energy loading of the building, provide a super insulated envelope with low infiltration and careful orientation and glazing systems, specify high performance equipment, and add on-site renewable energy. The outline is simple, the execution is a complicated dance. Still, I’m excited to see where the next few projects in the office and in my studios go with this expertise crystallizing.


Recent Highlights

-National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) Board of Directors 2009-12 (President in 2012)
-Design Communication Association (DCA) board as a Regional Director (2012-2015)
-Invited Jurist for the 2012 American Institute of Architects Upjohn Award Program
-Invited Jurist for the 2013 American Institute of Architects Committee on the Environment (AIA COTE) Awards Program
-Invited Participant for the 2013 Accreditation Review Conference
-Paper Session Moderator 2012 DCA Annual Conference
-Attendee in 2012 Facades Design and Delivery, Technical Conference
-Academic Chapter Published: The Designers Guide to Doing Research: Applying Knowledge to Inform Design, Ed. Sally Augustin and Cindy Coleman, Wiley (2012). Chapter 7 includes Post-Occupancy Evaluation Case Study, Primary author.
-Architectural Project Completed: LEED Platinum St. Francis High School Addition, Primary designer.

Sand Ranch

There is an exciting project developing in the Sandhills of Nebraska. I’m calling it “Sand Ranch,” an obvious homage to the wonderful work at Sea Ranch, CA and in particular architect Obie Bowman’s work there, and it is an off-grid residence for a ranching family. Contacted by a college friend through Facebook, we’ve started a client-driven collaboration toward a carbon neutral residence featuring earth berm, super insulated envelop, solar responsive south envelop features, stack induced cross ventilation, geothermal heat exchange, radiant floor and panels, solar hot water and solar well operations, and other juicy combinations of closed-loop strategies. Programmatically, it includes sleeping for the family of 8, a large family gathering space/kitchen/hearth, a contemporary canning kitchen and cellar, and aquaponics/hydroponics greenhouse. 

Judson Symposium Explores AIA 2030 Commitment Progress in Chicago

Judson University hosted a symposium of Chicago architects and educators on the topic of the AIA 2030 Commitment. The two day symposium included keynote speaker Bill Browning of Terrapin, and several presentations and discussion. A summary of the symposium and some thoughts of my own about progress and lack thereof in the building industry can be viewed on the Architecture Department vimeo site:

Kaiser Presentation of the AIA 2030 Commitment in 2012: Progress, Barriers and Opportunities

SFHS a real winner for sustainable passive design and contemporary architecture

The project that has consumed most of my creative energy in the past two years has finally come to a close. Working closely with a great team of Marty Serena, Dave Dankert, and Mike Karkowski at Serena Sturm Architects in Chicago, we have accomplished a remarkable school addition that is projected to operate on a 60% reduction of energy, and is complemented by a 20% on-site renewable energy portfolio. Daylighting alone, and especially top lighting in the labs, coached by Jim Benya’s very good work for the California school system, will reduce energy consumption by about 15-20%.  Passive solar design will create boost energy in the winter months with south facing glazing. Whole building flush out potential with a manually operated natural ventilation system overriding the mechanical system will ensure maximum possible fresh air supply, on demand by the user. We expect this facility will become a case study for passive design of schools in the region.

High Performance School Nearing Completion

The high school addition at St. Francis is nearing completion.

North elevation from Roosevelt Road

North elevation oblique

West elevation oblique

North elevation close up

South elevation oblique, demonstrating effective use of shading canopy and cantilevered form.

In-progress physics lab with disbursed daylighting (there are no lights on in this photograph!)

Double-loaded corridor, yes, boring, no. Daylighting pools create texture and visually/spatially interesting cadence along the hallway.