At Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, we believe that exceptional architecture and sustainable architecture are one and the same, and that the role of the architect includes careful stewardship of the built environment for future generations. Since 2015, we have been a signatory firm to the AIA’s 2030 Commitment, whose goal is to support firms participating in the 2030 Challenge to achieve carbon neutral buildings by the year 2030. But our passion for responsible environmental design spans more than fifty years and a range of diverse projects, from the first LEED Platinum life sciences facility to numerous national awards from the AIA Committee on the Environment (COTE).
In honor of Earth Day, we spoke with colleagues in the sustainability group at Bohlin Cywinski Jackson to hear their thoughts on our collaborative, holistic approach to sustainable design and the importance of the 2030 Commitment.
Margaret Sledge, architect, Philadelphia studio
Good design leverages our collective expertise to shape a built environment that considers the long-term health of our planet and the living systems that inhabit it. This collaborative effort takes the commitment of a team to setting measurable goals, and continuously working to meet and even exceed those goals. Being a signatory to the AIA’s 2030 Commitment means that our practice has taken that first step in making a promise to reach for better design on every project we touch.
Allen Kachel, senior associate, Wilkes-Barre studio
As someone who grew up in the 60’s and 70’s, I’ve witnessed the rise of the ecology movement, the first Earth Day, and events such as the oil embargo. Those powerful experiences shape us, and in my case, influenced the way I approach design. Today, we all recognize that sustainable design requires a comprehensive mindset that focuses on energy and carbon reduction, material conservation, preservation of our finite natural resources and ecosystems, individual and community wellbeing, and social justice, but just as those who marched in that first Earth Day, we understand that striving to meet the ambitious goals as set forth by the AIA 2030 Commitment is not a luxury, but a necessity.
Patreese Martin, principal, Seattle studio
We all believe in the power of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson’s architecture to inspire and improve the lives of those who experience it. Why limit that influence? Climate change is one of the most pressing global design challenges of our time. There are few more meaningful ways to expand the reach of our work than by demonstrating measurable positive impact on the planet. Our practice has shown again and again that we love a good challenge and excel at working collaboratively with teams, our clients, and the design community to solve hard problems in a manner both intuitive and elegant. A decade or more ago, there were few reliable tools for measuring progress and predicting results. Now we have the tools that allow us to marry our design intuition with data to support it.
We can’t improve what we can’t measure. The AIA 2030 Commitment is a standardized reporting framework for setting and measuring energy baselines across a range of typologies and set meaningful targets to exceed them. By sharing our challenges and successes with the AIA anonymously each year, we both elevate our practice and take part of a larger movement to challenge and learn from each other.
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