Sustainable Design is Good Design

January 17, 2012

TSP - CBEC - South Dakota School of Mines

Whether it’s swapping energy efficient light bulbs, turning off the water while brushing teeth or turning down the thermostat, conscious choices lead to sustainable solutions.

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) estimates buildings in the United States are responsible for 39% of CO2 emissions, 40% of energy consumption and 13% of all water consumption. To encourage building owners to operate facilities in an environmentally sensitive manner, USGBC created a rating system with components to identify and implement measurable solutions. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, more commonly known as LEED, has changed the game for those in pursuit of sustainability. Developed in 2000, the LEED rating system has established a framework from which to identify and implement sustainable design.

When South Dakota School of Mines and Technology hired TSP, they made it clear the new Chemical and Biological Engineering + Chemistry (CBE+C) building was to achieve LEED Silver certification standards, a difficult task due to the energy intensive nature of lab ventilation and exhaust requirements. After meticulous attention to detail and consideration for every credit TSP’s efforts paid off, even more than expected. Just last month, the USGBC deemed the CBE+C building LEED Gold certified.

“TSP appropriately integrates the principles of sustainable design into all our projects,” says Rick Wessling, TSP’s Education Business Unit Leader. “The concept of sustainable design is just simply good design. It is not a concept that is applied to a project but rather a component of each decision that threads through the entire design process.”

TSP architect and LEED Coordinator, Michelle Holter, works to ensure LEED principles play an integral role in all projects, regardless of certification. “From its inception, the LEED system has worked to raise the floor or create a new baseline of sustainability in the design of buildings. Owners, Designers, and Contractors now automatically pursue more energy-efficient systems utilizing low-VOC finishes and sealants with a focus on creating positive environments for building users.”

Undeniably, LEED has transformed the way people view sustainability and our responsibility to preserving earth’s most precious resources. Daily life has changed as a result of increased awareness and redefined the environments where we live, work and learn. Regardless of whether clients design to LEED standards or pursue LEED certification, the conversation has been started. Sustainable design is good design.