Page Is A Top 20 Green Buildings Design Firm

Engineering News & Record (ENR) Magazine has published its 2016 Top 100 Green Buildings Design Firms list, and Page is in the Top 20, ranking 18 overall. The 2016 Green Sourcebook is also out. It contains rankings by sectors. Page is third in the Government Office Sector of the Top Green Design Firms.

Click here for ENR's list of the 2016 Top 100 Green Building Design Firms, and click here for ENR's 2016 Green Sourcebook

Page Sustainable Design Director Robert Phinney’s thoughts on net zero design and net zero water appear in the New Standards section of the Green Sourcebook. Phinney, who joined Page this spring, is focusing on integrating sustainability into our practice and culture by raising awareness of issues like material health and improving project performance through a more collaborative design process. See below for hightlights from Phinney's thoughts sustainable design trends given in response to ENR for its annual ranking of the leading green design firms and green contractors.

Do you see any change in the sustainable design and construction market in the near term?

I see it becoming more and more important to talk about material health and transparency. The discussion is growing and will continue to grow. Eventually, concern for material health will greatly influence product lines and push for the elimination of toxicity. The profession is also becoming more comfortable with best practices. There has been a decline in the need for checklists. I think that LEED has generally accomplished its original goal to educate architects about best practices.

Has the uncertain market ahead had a significant impact on clients’ willingness to embrace green design?

Owners are only beginning to learn about material health and transparency. Over the next few years, I believe owners will start to realize importance the importance of the topic. In fact, I think it will hit them like a ton of bricks.

Do you see any trends that are affecting sustainable design or construction process?

Net zero energy and net zero water are becoming more achievable through better building technologies. The rediscovery of how to harness the passive systems around us, and the ability to accurately quantify performance and using this information to guide design are other trends I am seeing. It won’t be long before net zero expectations will be common throughout our industry. Additional trends include mitigating the risks of climate events and the push toward material transparency and healthier material choices.  

What new technologies or products are helping you to achieve better green building performance?

One of the biggest developments has been new software tools that are simplifying material research and selection. Parametric modeling programs provide very early performance analysis and constant feedback throughout the design process. These tools are simplifying the integration of high performance and health into even the most complex projects. Knowledge can be power, and these software tools are working to expand the level of knowledge that we apply to each of our projects.

Which parts of a building are hardest to green and how do you overcome that challenge and still achieve green goals?

Finding healthier material options remains an enormous challenge to our industry. So much of what is available for designers to choose from still contains chemicals deemed benign until recent advances in material research uncovered hidden risks. We have made great headway to overcome this challenge by advocating for material transparency, but this is only the first step in creating a materials market that truly addresses the human and environmental health impacts traditionally ignored by manufacturers and chemical companies.

Are you seeing any disputes or litigation arising from either green design or green construction?

I am seeing disputes arise around energy efficiency where the trend toward relying on modeled performance analysis is falling short of actual building performance. As a result, analytical modeling is used more for design assistance than confirmation, and AE firms are pushing measurement and verification services to gain some influence on the actual performance.

As our understanding of the health impact of some of the more common chemicals that surround us grows, there is a concern that architects may be liable for the health impacts of the materials that they specify. We have to hope that materials manufacturers advance faster than the Standard of Care that guides our profession.