SUSTAINABILITY

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While the topic of sustainability has garnered an increasing amount media and cultural exposure over the past 15 years, in concert with the development of formal standards, organizations, energy codes, etc., we believe that sustainable design approaches can be pursued on any project, at any level. A project might not “tick every box” required for formal recognition of sustainable design programs, but can nonetheless use less energy during its creation, and over its lifespan, via thoughtfulness and adherence to basic recognized design principles. Advanced technologies and materials might be part of such an approach, of course, but they are considered as complementary components in the solution, not the sole drivers towards solutions.

Considerations such as siting and arrangement of a building’s massing, exposure of major fenestration are time-tested, basic yet very important steps towards insuring that a design “makes sense”. While recognized in many green/sustainable design criteria, the fact that these considerations are not “product-driven” (i.e. you’ll never see a magazine ad or TV commercial for these considerations) tends to drive them to the background in the overall dialogue. In fact, one can argue that adherence to these principles might be considered anathema to much of the “green industry”, get them right, and you eliminate the need to purchase additional material or technology to mitigate the impact of what was essentially an unfortunate, but very basic, design consideration.In a similar vein, material choices can be equally impactful. While certain trendy sustainable materials are trumpeted at various times for various reasons by industry and by the press, we believe that there are myriad subtler considerations. For example, a reclaimed beam might be considered “green” merely by virtue of it being a recycled material, but the fact that it has a great patina that doesn’t require a finish (either during construction or during the lifecycle of the building) means that less energy and cost will be needed to maintain the appearance and performance of the beam over the lifespan of the project. Such is the case for many of the antique and reclaimed materials we enjoy using on our projects – while the emotional and aesthetic value of such materials is self-evident, the fact that these materials are “low-impact/no impact” in terms of installation and maintenance, is a happy coincidence for us, and a benefit of which we’re always cognizant. It also fits in with a key precept of the firm – that we work to achieve projects that are “built to last”.

Other aspects of sustainability sometimes require pushing past these basic precepts of good design, and do require equipment, technology, and material based solutions; while we are always ready advocates for the exploration and use of such approaches, we believe that client motivation and goals should be the prime mover towards such solutions. In line with our overall goal of design ultimately being “about the client”, we are always ready and excited to pursue such avenues. Many of our projects embrace energy saving techniques and technologies for heating domestic water, pool water, and in our Kukui’ula project on Kauai, recapturing the heat produced by mechanical equipment to heat swimming pools.

Currently 50% of our professional staff hold LEED AP certifications from the Unites States Green Building Council (USGBC), and Oz has had numerous residential projects participate successfully in sustainable building programs offered by local municipalities, such as the City of Scottsdale’s Green Building Program.

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