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What is Sustainable Design?

Sustainable Design means a lot of different things. Our perspective of sustainable design involves designing buildings and landscapes in a manner that is ecologically friendly and sustainable, reduced human impact on nature over the life cycle.  We hear the terms “carbon footprint”, “energy conservation”, “climate change”, etc.

As sustainable design professionals, we approach the design of buildings and landscape from a science oriented design approach. This means we approach the design in BOTH an artistic and scientific point of view.

Strategies for sustainable building design includes:

  • passive solar building design
  • active solar systems
  • geothermal heating & cooling (ground-source heat pump based systems)
  • wind electric generation systems
  • small scale hydroelectric generation systems
  • historic preservation, restoration and renovations
  • renewable material uses
  • low carbon footprint over life cycle of components, systems and building and landscape.
  • subsistence strategies / off-the-grid independence
  • and many more.

NOTE: Each strategy or combination of strategies are entirely site location, project context & criteria dependent. Not every strategy may be appropriate.

Examples of kinds of buildings and projects we work on:

  • Existing and Historic buildings using appropriate practices for both non-historic and historic buildings. When done properly, preserving, restoring or renovating/rehabilitating historic and non-historic existing buildings are among the best sustainable practices around by keeping them in service and minimizing heat loss, and preserving their use over a century plus life cycle is more ecologically friendly then building buildings and demolishing them in 30 years to build another building on the same site. Longevity of our built work are key to long-term sustainability. Preserving or restoration usually requires less material consumption and is mostly investing in human labor in the craftsmanship of restoring with minimal new material required.
  • Adaptive Reuse of existing non-historic buildings and historic buildings to new uses.
  • Buildings optimizing on the use of passive solar heating and cooling.
  • In some cases, a site may not be ideal location for use of passive solar heating and cooling in the conventional sense but maybe appropriate for using Geothermal Heating and Cooling systems.
  • “Earthships” and similar Earth-sheltered buildings.
  • Alternative systems for electric power generation to reduce or eliminate dependence on the utility grid or fossil fuel such as wind powered electric generators or small hydroelectric generators.
  • Subsistence and environmentally friendly landscape design.

These are some examples of the kinds of projects we work on but are not a complete list of projects. Even if your project does not seem to appear on this list, feel free to contact us about your project.

As a general rule, we apply sustainable design practices when designing new buildings that are intended to be built. Additionally, with existing and historic buildings we may strive to apply some sustainable design practices where we can.


Our fees are typically charged based on the pricing method of our services. Our fees are typically charged using our Cost-Plus-Fee with Guaranteed Maximum Price & with a starting base fee amount. We also bill using a Billed Hourly Rate method (or Daily Rate in some cases).

The Billed Hourly Rate is typically $90 to $180 per hour. Some parts of the services we provide is done at a Billed Hourly Rate only.


As shall be noted, due to the nature of our services, we record in-person and over the internet voice or video conference meetings. Additionally, we use written contracts to formalize our agreements and usually will require signatures.

Additionally, we take the privacy importantly and do not disclose the entrusted private information attained through those conversations to the public without either permission from the client or through court order or subpoena. While we are not lawyers or doctors with special legal protections, we still do our best to preserve the trust of our clients.

Additionally, we retain ALL INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS to the designs we prepare for our clients. We are independent contractors (not construction contractors but self-employed/stand-alone business). We are NOT employees to clients.  Therefore, we are not a “work for hire”. We are owners of our designs. Clients own trademarks and other intellectual properties are that of our clients, respectively.