Architectural Design

Architects are increasingly expected to design buildings that perform at high levels of sustainability and performance.
Photo credit: Omar Barcena

Architects are responsible for working with other architects and engineers to plan and design buildings and other structural projects. Their goal is to create a functional, safe and aesthetically pleasing structure while considering the project’s budget, timeline and purpose. An architect that incorporates sustainability into their designs will consider energy efficiency, material use, land impacts, and efficient use of space.

What to Look for in a Green Architect

When looking for an architect or architecture firm to plan and design your sustainable building project, you may want to look for certain qualities that will make them eligible for the task.

Architecture License. Licensed architects typically graduated from a college or university’s architecture program, have gained experience through a job or internship, and have passed the Architect Registration Exam (ARE).

Services and Costs. Check that the range of services the architect or firm provides matches what you need for your project. Their pricing should also match your budget.

References. As with any professional you hire, it is a good idea to get recommendations or references so that you know they provide high quality work and customer service. You can also read reviews of their work online.

American Institute of Architects. In the United States, many architects are members of the American Institute of Architects, which is an association for architecture professionals. The organization requires continuing education and provides educational resources for architects, which means that they will be up to date in the latest technologies and design strategies.

Sustainability Experience. You will want to look for an architect with experience on sustainable building projects, such as those certified under ENERGY STAR, LEED, Green Globes, or GreenPoint. If you are looking to certify your project under one of these programs or another program, an architect with experience in that rating system would be ideal. He or she will know not only how to design the building or renovation according to the requirements, but also how to report to the certification organization.

Green Credentials. An architect with knowledge and experience of green projects may have a sustainability professional credential. For example, the LEED green building rating system awards the Green Associate or Accredited Professional (AP) credentials to professionals who meet eligibility requirements and pass a computerized exam. Architects with experience on LEED certification projects may have a LEED AP credential with specialty. The Building Design + Construction (BD+C) specialty is for professionals who have an advanced knowledge of the BD+C rating systems, which are for new construction and major renovation projects.

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