Location: Athens, Ga.
Principal: Lori Bork Newcomer, AIA
Size: 2 employees
Little-known fact: We have an Australian Shepard mascot.
What was the biggest lesson you learned from designing and building your own home in Athens?
Lori Bork Newcomer: Every architect should act as a contractor at some point in their career. It broadened my perspective on how my design decisions really affect pricing, construction sequencing, and more.
What insights from this and other sustainable projects would you share with other professionals?
Start with the passive systems that can be incorporated into the design for little or no cost, and then add the efficient and green systems and products as budget allows.
What is your firm's philosophy on sustainable design?
We cannot treat sustainability as a design option. It is a necessity and must be integral to all projects.
What kinds of sustainable solutions are non-negotiable for your firm? What are the baseline standards your firm aims to meet with every project?
We begin every project with siting the building for optimal passive solar design. Thinking about daylighting and passive heating and cooling is the baseline for every project. Specifying low or zero-VOC materials and finishes to maintain healthy indoor quality is also of utmost importance. These are all measures that happen to have very little impact on budget.
What are the top energy-saving features you put in your projects?
Tight, well-insulated building envelopes, proper solar and natural ventilation design, and high efficiency HVAC systems. Obviously renewable energy systems are great when the budget allows.
How do you think these types of innovative green solutions might become standard?
It's all about market demand. That demand starts with public awareness of the importance of green building and the realities of the negative impact our built environment has had on our planet and our health. Designers, architects, and builders must demand proper systems and products of the subcontractors and suppliers. As soon as we create enough of a demand, the standard products and building practices will make that shift. I just hope we can accomplish this sooner rather than later ... for all our good.
Read more about Bork Architectural Design's Athens House in EcoHome's case study.