HMC Architects’ High-Performance Architecture Initiative Pushes Industry Beyond Sustainable Design

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

HMC Architects announced today the firm’s High-Performance Architecture Initiative which includes a building design process and commitment to share ongoing research publicly. Based on HMC’s dedication to environmentally neutral design, the initiative will act as a directive for the firm’s work across all practice areas, including Higher Education, Pre-K-12, and Healthcare. Progress made through the initiative will inform an evolving public resource, providing the industry with an open source of information for designing beyond sustainability.

In order to truly move towards high-performance architecture, HMC and the architecture profession as a whole must make a major shift toward integrated thinking of buildings, not as isolated entities, but as integral parts of their place, serving as harbingers for an improved environment. The intended result is a building that is attune with its surroundings, to the extent that there is no negative impact on the environment. High performance architecture aims to advance beyond today’s accepted guidelines and standards classifications and towards truly environmentally neutral design, employing three primary areas of measure in determining the success of a project:

Environmental Impact: The building should have a reduced environmental impact measured in three areas: its effect on climate change, pollution and resource consumption.

Human Health: The building has to promote human health and quality of life. This is measured in two areas: performance and program.

Economy: The building should benefit society and provide added value to the community through several major areas, such as education and income.

“We realize that a meaningful move towards carbon neutral design will require us to redefine the measures of success and discover new approaches to design that propel the industry beyond current solutions,” said Randy Peterson, HMC Architects’ President and CEO. “As architects we have both the responsibility and the opportunity to lead in environmental stewardship, in turn providing sustained comforts and health to our communities and economy through improved building design.”

At the core of the high-performance architecture initiative is an ongoing process of learning, analysis and implementation of innovative approaches to design in response to performance metrics of applied strategies. A long-term—instead of a short-term—view must be promoted, with buildings benefitting the environment, users and society. HMC will publicly share research on its projects, gathered through partnerships with the Center for the Built Environment at U.C. Berkeley, Cal Poly Pomona’s Lyle Center, and the firm’s own living laboratory collaborative.

This method is easy to adapt to different types of projects and scales and incorporates appropriate tools and strategies to evaluate ideas during the design process. It is not an exhaustive or prescriptive method; instead it provides an easy to understand assessment of the project performance. The goal is to inspire the change needed to redefine successful building design and move the industry towards buildings that improve the environment of which they are a part.

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