Company Locations: Kansas City, Mo., Houston, Des Moines, Iowa; Los Angeles, San Diego
Principals: Rod Kruse, FAIA; Steve McDowell, FAIA; Casey Cassias, FAIA; Kathy Achelpohl, AIA; Laura Lesniewski, AIA; Doug Stevens, AIA; Craig Scranton, AIA; Bob Berkebile, FAIA; Tom Nelson, FAIA
Date founded: 1970

What is the biggest lesson you learned from this year’s COTE Top Ten COTE Plus winner, the Iowa Utilities Board/Office of the Consumer Advocate Office Building?

Rod Kruse, FAIA: The most important message learned during the design, construction, and continued monitoring of the Iowa Utilities Board/Office of Consumer Advocate Office Building is the importance of vision and leadership from the client, and fully supporting that vision through the work of the project team. Without the vision and leadership of the State of Iowa, this project would not have achieved the demonstrated exemplary metrics and performance that led to the COTE Plus honor.

Iowa Utilities Board/Office of the Consumer Advocate Office Building.

Iowa Utilities Board/Office of the Consumer Advocate Office Building.

Credit: Assassi

Your firm has won AIA COTE Top Ten Awards in the past. What’s your secret to success in green building?

Our success is dependent on a truly integrated design process that is based on replication and innovation, meaning we are constantly improving upon established design strategies in order to move them forward. With our mantra “Rigor, Restraint and Resolve,” we are constantly learning from our successes and pushing to expand performance through continued innovation.

Iowa Utilities Board/Office of the Consumer Advocate Office Building.

Iowa Utilities Board/Office of the Consumer Advocate Office Building.

Credit: Assassi

How does your firm prioritize sustainable design strategies on each project? Is there one area that you focus on more than others, such as third-party certification, energy conservation, human health, or adaptive reuse?

Our integrated design process allows us to consider all strategies early in the design process. Each project is unique, so the collaborative nature of the integrated design process allows our team to explore numerous opportunities. The prioritization and analysis of these opportunities and strategies is the outcome of informed decision-making, first utilizing intuition and later scientific analysis to determine viability.

Iowa Utilities Board/Office of the Consumer Advocate Office Building.

Iowa Utilities Board/Office of the Consumer Advocate Office Building.

Credit: Assassi

Has sustainability always been an integral part of your firm’s mission? If not, when was it incorporated and what drove this shift?

BNIM was an early leader in the sustainable design movement. High performance design has been a part of our mission for several decades. Many factors influenced the shift to a more responsible approach to the built environment, but at this point it is innate to our thinking. It is in the core of our being and deeply integrated into everything we do.

Iowa Utilities Board/Office of the Consumer Advocate Office Building.

Iowa Utilities Board/Office of the Consumer Advocate Office Building.

Credit: Assassi

What does your firm see as the next “frontier” of green building?

We believe that regenerative design is the current frontier of green building. We do not have time to wait for the next frontier; the time to act responsibly is now.

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