Principals: Ellen Watts, AIA, principal and co-founder; Dan Arons, AIA, principal and co-founder; Daniel Bernstein, AIA, principal
Size: 15 employees
Little-known fact: Architerra launched its practice with the design of the Garthwaite Center, another COTE Top Ten project.
What was the biggest lesson you learned from your COTE Top Ten winner, the SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry Gateway Center
Underpinning the project’s success was ESF’s (the owner’s) vision to drive toward campus carbon neutrality while creating an iconic campus center.
What insights from this and other sustainable projects would you share with other professionals?
The Gateway Center debunks every excuse about what can be designed for a public budget.
What is your firm’s philosophy on sustainable design?
Architerra’s mission is climate action through design excellence; it was the express reason we started the firm.
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 focus on optimizing energy performance and integrating on-site renewable energy production while driving toward potential LEED Platinum certification. (Not all of our clients elect to pursue formal certification.) Increasingly, our clients are seeking designs that are zero net energy capable.
What are the top energy-saving features you put into your projects?
Dramatic energy savings are generally achieved through strategic siting, passive solar features such as bioclimatic facades and exterior solar shading, and superior building envelope design. Daylighting through optimal glazing and skylights is also a top energy-saving strategy.
How do you think these types of solutions and products might become standard?
Most savvy owners expect high-performance design. These design strategies will become standard when all buildings display “energy labels” (like nutritional labels on food) and the general public demands them.