Designing with a health, well-being, and equity lens has been a long- standing tenet of green building, as per U.S. Green Building Council guidelines. The pandemic has compounded the interest in sustainability with an emphasis on human health and wellness.
Local design and construction firms’ leadership shine a light on the latest green building trends.
Staff members at architecture firm LRK, one of the leading List firms (see list below) with 16 local LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) professionals, said they are seeing a growing interest in projects focused on sustainability, social equity, and wellness.
“Buildings that combine sustainable design (to conserve our resources); resilient design (to protect us from unpredictable events); and active design (to keep us healthy and continuously evolving for the better) have become a trend in Memphis and beyond,” Krissy Buck Flickinger, senior associate, director of sustainability at LRK, told MBJ.
At Alston Construction Co., Chad Lindsay, VP and general manager of the firm’s Memphis office, has also seen a similar trend prompted by the pandemic. He said that more projects, mainly corporate and schools, are interested — and asking questions about — human well-being, net zero energy, and decarbonization.
“There is an increasing focus on human health and wellness that was unprecedented pre-COVID,” Lindsay said. “This has become one of the top-three reasons organizations want high-performing buildings, beyond marketing and competitive advantage and utility cost savings.”
The course of design has been “irreversibly” altered, he said, to ensure a positive impact on human health.
As the emphasis on prioritizing human well-being in projects increases, there are various strategies that companies can employ to incorporate it into design and construction.
Lindsay said that some ways to do it are to focus on acoustics, green cleaning, low-emitting materials, and designing to factor in daylight and fresh air.
At HBG Design, an architecture firm with 11 local LEED professionals, staff members there are able to enhance energy efficiency and indoor air quality “through new HVAC systems with enhanced filtering; biophilic principles that feature an introduction of natural lighting that brings a sense of the outdoors inward; and specification of non-toxic, sustainable materials,” said Deidre Brady, project management leader at HBG.
Local LEED leaders who spoke to MBJ said they haven’t seen an increase in the number of new build LEED-certified projects locally, but they are witnessing a growing interest in existing buildings and renovation projects seeking LEED certifications and certification to programs that focus on human well-being.
“Certification to programs like Fitwel and the WELL Building Standard, which focus on the people inside the building as well as the brick-and-mortar itself, have quickly become goals for projects looking to stand out,” Flickinger said.
Source: Memphis Business Journal