greenSTUDIO is a sustainability consulting group focused on the built environment dedicated to providing innovative, timely, and informative consultation to assist building owners and operators in their effort to realize sustainability objectives and reduce their environmental impact in a fiscally and socially responsible way.
As a division of Hastings Architecture Associates, LLC located in Nashville, Tennessee, our background is rooted in architectural practice with extensive project management experience. We are well suited to explain concepts to a CEO, facilitate discussions among a design team, assist contractors with implementation, or coach an building manager with operational procedures.
greenSTUDIO has a comprehensive understanding of the dynamic factors involved with building and land development and operation. While we prefer to engage with our clients as early in the process as feasible, we are comfortable plugging in at any point along the way. Acting with a sense of urgency appropriate for the project’s pace and schedule, our approach begins with identifying opportunities and challenges posed by each unique project, followed by facilitation among project team members to identify solutions that solve problems, have low-environmental impact, and respect the financial barriers and potential savings as a result.
Mike is a founding member of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Middle Tennessee Chapter and former three term Chairman of the Board of Directors. In 2002, he became one of the first architects in Tennessee to earn the LEED Accredited Professional credential. Since that time, Mike has developed extensive knowledge of the LEED green building rating system; serving as a facilitator for design teams and building owners on integrated design strategies and managing the LEED certification process. In 2015 he was elevated to LEED Fellow by the US Green Building Council.
Mike has also served on the Board of Directors for the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) Nashville Chapter and is a past president. In 2005, he received the Environmental Stewardship Award from CSI for his promotion of green building principles. He speaks regularly on topics of sustainable design and LEED certification and has given presentations at various local and national conferences.
greenSTUDIO?s LEED project administrators provide guidance to project teams in the identification and selection of sustainable design and construction strategies appropriate for each project?s unique constraints. As experienced facilitators, we understand the importance of providing timely and accurate information to project teams in the decision making process. Our team provides clear and actionable tasks to project team members with a focus on critical path decisions so as not to compromise the design or construction schedule.
Working closely with our client, our team develops a LEED credit strategy based on those value-added strategies that offer a practical path to the highest feasible certification level within the project?s constraints. greenSTUDIO is flexible in our work process and can provide services to meet the needs at hand whether it be quality control reviews or compilation and completion of both Design and Construction LEED Online templates and supporting documentation using the project team documents.
Whether a building space is newly constructed or has been in operation for many years, our building evaluation services are intended to identify potential for improvement with utility consumption as well as janitorial products and procedures, material purchases, material recycling, integrated pest management, and indoor air quality.
For owners and operators of existing buildings or those planning to build or renovate with new construction, greenSTUDIO offers a low cost Feasibility Study or Gap Analysis that provides timely but reliable information useful for decision makers and project team members alike regarding the potential to increase efficiency based on the performance of similar building types, or feasibility of achieving LEED certification.
Whether using the ENERGY STAR program related to the LEED for Existing Buildings certification process to document energy performance and carbon emissions, or simply to provide an initial evaluation of overall building performance, our team is trained in providing the level of service required.
Our ability to meet the challenges of true sustainability in the built environment relies on the synergy of design and construction practices and as well as human behavior. greenSTUDIO assist in the development of sustainable strategies and planning documents aligned with natural human behavior and instincts that are uninfluenced by incentives or inconvenience.
Stemming from an architectural background, greenSTUDIO approaches each project with critical thinking and a problem solving skill set. We are comfortable with and inspired by the challenge of efficiently identifying opportunities that each unique project presents and crafting strategies that balance aesthetic, economic, and environmental needs.
greenSTUDIO values the human experience in each project and believe this is a critical component to effective sustainability planning. Our team diligently listens to our clients? needs and works alongside their team to develop customized planning strategies that include an appropriate balance of environmental, social, and economic responses to create lasting documents leading to effective and sustainable results.
greenSTUDIO is dedicated to continuous improvement in the delivery of architectural design services. Through informal and formal education and training sessions, gSu opportunities provide a chance to focus on elements of sustainability from various perspectives, including building owners, developers/investors, design team members, contractors, and building operators.
Erica Weeks, a self-professed "enthusiastic pilot credit attempter," says that going after pilot credits makes good business sense. "A lot of the pilot credits that we have attempted have been in anticipation of them being credits on LEED v4 projects. It helps us to understand what we need to be looking for and to start building our database so that we can help our clients," says Weeks.
Weeks is a project manager with greenSTUDIO, which does sustainability consulting as a division of Hastings Architecture Associates in Nashville. Weeks says that she registers for several pilot credits with every project. While the team may only end up attempting one of the credits, they have gone through the process of evaluating the various opportunities to find a good fit.
For example, greenSTUDIO worked with AMSURG, an ambulatory surgery center management company, to renovate its corporate headquarters space in Nashville.
"Their mantra was 'wellness for employees'. We attempted the Design for Active Occupants pilot credit for that project because it worked so well with their mantra to have all of their staff and people move through the building via open, beautiful stairways that were naturally lit versus taking the elevator all of the time," says Weeks.
By purchasing furniture that is low-emitting by LEED requirements, and by going above the required 50 percent threshold, the project achieved an extra point for innovation for Environmentally Preferable Interior Finishes and Furnishings. "[AMSURG] liked the idea of attempting this as a pilot credit because it shows that they were transforming their company and wanting to do more sustainable things, which included three floors of all new furniture being from more sustainably minded sources," says Weeks.
For Weeks, having the opportunity to help improve USGBC's pilot credits provides another benefit of using them. "With each revision that is published, they do make some tweaks and changes according to the comments that make some things a little bit easier," she says.
There's one more benefit. In addition to gaining the points, achieving pilot credits offers companies like greenSTUDIO bragging rights. "When you can say that you've earned one of these pilot credits that go above and beyond the standard criteria that everyone is used to, that gives you a marketable statement; a statement showing your commitment to doing things better," says Weeks.
LEED for Operations + Maintenance is the only rating system that requires properties to apply for recertification at least once every five years to maintain their certification status. With this deadline drawing near, Boyle Investment Company approached greenSTUDIO to assist with the recertification process for two class-A office buildings in Franklin, Tennessee, originally certified in 2011.
greenSTUDIO introduced Boyle to the LEED Dynamic Plaque (LDP), an alternative compliance path to recertification based on five key performance criteria: energy, water, waste, transportation and indoor environmental quality.
Actual data is entered in a web-based platform which immediately translates to a digital display, updating the building?s rating in real-time and allowing for streamlined annual recertification. Occupants are able to witness the building?s fluctuating performance while facility managers can use it as leverage to introduce new strategies aimed at improving the building?s score.
In July 2016, One Meridian maintained its Certified status, while Two Meridian increased its LEED rating to the Silver level. The Meridian properties are among the first in the world to use the LEED Dynamic Plaque for the recertification process.
greenSTUDIO worked early in the design process with the developer, Castle Rock Asset Management, to develop a clear vision for sustainability which included the decision to pursue LEED certification. That vision guided the creation of a well-defined certification strategy supported and implemented by the design and construction team.
While market forces played a role in the decision to pursue LEED certification, first and foremost, commitment to expressing the brand image and enhancing the guest well-being sealed the deal. With full LEED facilitation and documentation management services, greenSTUDIO manages and completes both the LEED Design and Construction submittals for the project and is currently on track to receive a final award notification in the fall of 2016.
And they are right. Leaders understand that green building practices reduce operating costs and demands on natural resources, create a healthier and more productive workplace and convey a positive corporate image.
As consumer demand for environmental responsibility continues to rise, green practices now play a key role in business strategy.
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by Mike Leonard, greenSTUDIO