Location: Santa Monica, Calif.

Founding principals: Hank Koning and Julie Eizenberg; Brian Lane and Nathan Bishop, principals

Date founded: January 1981

Size: Small-to-mid sized

Little-known fact: We take every other Friday off to keep cars off the road.

What was the biggest lesson you learned from the 28th Street Apartments project?

Eizenberg: How to balance a landmark historic building with a new addition.

What insights from this and other sustainable projects would you share with other professionals?

Vet new or uncommon sustainable ideas with regulatory agencies early in design.

What is your firm's philosophy on sustainable design?

Sustainability is the new normal. As a working principal, sustainability is fully integrated in our approach to design. We continue to innovate and aspire to new benchmarks and best practices.

What kinds of sustainable solutions are non-negotiable for your firm? What are the baseline standards your firm aims to meet with every project?

In Southern California, natural ventilation, daylight,  passive shading, responsible water management, and landscape are the most effective strategies to make strong social spaces and achieve design excellence. None of these qualities are negotiable. 

What are the top energy-saving features you put in your projects?

Natural ventilation, daylight, maximized envelope performance, local products, renewable energy systems, efficient appliances, siting, and orientation. Where we can, we incorporate passive systems like solar chimneys or use alternative energy sources like geothermal to minimize energy use.

How do you think these types of innovative green solutions, products, and strategies, might become standard?

Cities need to support innovation by facilitating use of new products and assemblies. Funders, investors, and owners need to continue to demand sustainable compliance, innovation and incentives to implement them. Architects, I think, have embraced the challenge and the more the system supports the objective, the more architects can integrate sustainability into best design practices.