Committed to sustainable building

We use design practices, technologies, and systems that bring sustainable solutions to our clients and their communities.  It is a design process by which we gain insight into critical environmental factors affecting air, water, climate, and ecosystems.

Case Study


School buildings get hot from people, computers and near constant lighting. Where a building is located, the direction that it faces, and how it will be used are among many important factors that need to be considered at the start. 

Orientation, occupancy density and operational hours are taken into account to model a base case building. Our design team can then sculpt a more effective and appealing learning space for little if any extra cost.

We begin by gaining a clear understanding of the climate that we are building in to best leverage passive strategies. Once all the passive strategies have been explored, move into the world of active and renewable optimization.

Then we start to think about the design options that work best for our project location and our clients’ preferences.  As we begin to make choices, we can see what works best for the lowest cost – and how this ties into lowering our client’s utility bills.

The Chapin School, Science and Art Classrooms


Initiatives & Objectives

Create new upper and middle school science classrooms.

Create new art and photography classrooms adjacent to the already completed performing arts classroom/black box theater.

Build into the classroom design elements of energy conservation that would be scientific case studies as themselves.

The Challenges

Key Issues

Oriented at the top of the building with north, south, east and west exposures.

Building footprint of 100 feet square.

How can the new addition tie sensitively into the existing architecture?

The Process

Passive and Active Design Principles

Our research began with a study of climate and sun angles throughout the year.  Simultaneously we developed a design for the facades that tied to the geometries of the existing masonry facade below and the classrooms within the new addition.  We then constructed a model to evaluate heating and cooling demand based on varying degrees of building insulation, solar shading, glass types, roof types, and active means of reducing energy use.

The Result

Optimization Summary

Efficient Design: The design is efficient in its optimization of massing, high performance facade, its use of high performance HVAC systems.  Roofing materials are light in color to reflect solar radiation and a rain water retention system feeds the greenhouse at the top of the building

Lighting:  We incorporated daylight harvesting, daylight sensors, and LED lights.

Occupant Comfort:  Our HVAC and lighting system design incorporates set points depending on season, time of day, and occupancy.  This allows more efficient use of the various classrooms and coordinates their energy use according to their schedules.

Project Size

35,000 SF

Architectural Services

Programming through Construction

Completion Date



2010 AS&U Magazine