Elevating the Human Experience through Design

DLR article photo

Megan DuffyBy Megan Duffy

Kermit the Frog always said, “It’s not easy bein’ green.” Since 2008, it has been even harder to be green in construction and design. Clients are wary of cost, some feel the topic is overplayed, while others feel it is the cornerstone of good design.

So in 2017, what are your options?

LEED | usgbc.org

LEED was the original. It is based on a point system for Silver, Gold or Platinum certification depending on how many points are achieved from their credit categories, including indoor air quality, site location and water consumption. In addition to the credit category, LEED also offers something a little more creative: the innovation catalog. If you do something above and beyond or tell a great story about renewability you may get an extra point for being creative.

Well Building Challenge | wellcertifed.com

WELL is a seven-part concept that includes air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind that relate to occupant health in the built environment. This program is third party certified by the GBCI (Green Business Certification Inc.) who also administer LEED. The focus of WELL Building certification really starts to pick up where LEED leaves off and tends to be more applicable for interior spaces. The focus is on the health and wellness of the occupant, and productivity is backed by extensive research.

2030 Challenge | architecture2030.org

Most architecture firms are participating in the 2030 Challenge, which states that all new buildings shall be carbon neutral by 2030. This would reduce our fossil fuel consumption in new buildings and GHG (green house gas) emissions to zero. The challenge allows only 20 percent of the renewable energy required to be purchased. The goal is innovation – how can architects, designers and engineers create new, more cost effective strategies for their clients. May the best firm win!

Living Building Challenge | living-future.org/lbc

This challenge states that a building should function as beautifully and efficiently as a flower, by giving more than they take. Its focus is lasting sustainable design – how about 100 years? This imperative does not account for the probable, but the actual. The certification is based on the building’s actual performance over a continuous 12-month period.

RESET | reset.build

RESET is the new wave of certification. It has its own RESET AP that be can be put on display. Its focus is human health, such as indoor air quality. RESET prioritizes ongoing results and long-term occupant health. It requires data to be live-streamed to the cloud via multi-parameter monitors that can be accessed in real-time from any device.

There are also rating systems that help determine a product’s suitability including Green Star, BREEAM, Green Label, NSF140, and others.

We are lucky enough to live in a time where we have access to more information than one can process regarding the suitability and sustainability, interior space or products for our buildings in regards to the environment and our own health and wellbeing. Our goal as architects and designers is to identify what can be achieved on a per-project basis. Education – as well as implementation – is key to making an impact. Ultimately, we strive to elevate the human experience through design.


Megan Duffy has over 15 years’ experience in the commercial interior design industry. She believes superior project outcomes result from the successful marriage of architecture and interior design, placing equal emphasis on function and form. As Senior Interior Design Lead at DLR Group, Megan takes pride in her role as a seasoned designer and mentor and takes on every project with enthusiasm and confidence.

Read more architecture articles at greenlivingaz.com/architecture

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