While we frequently explore the newest technologies to find appropriate solutions, we frequently also seek inspiration from forgotten traditions: the use of natural ventilation, or finding ways to reflect natural light into an interior space, for example. There are often links between the ecology of a building, which is measurable, and the poetic dimensions of architecture, which are more difficult to quantify.
~ Norman Foster

mills studio statement

Architecture has the opportunity to express sustainability in its broadest sense, ranging from the more general sustainability of values and institutions to the more specific sustainability of processes and materials to the sustainability of a building’s occupation. For both good and not so good, many governing agencies and third party accrediting organizations have reduced sustainability to a series of data and formulaic driven checklists that now require a Sustainability Consultant to help navigate and assure compliance. A Sustainability Consultant can provide the expertise to assure code compliance, but the best Sustainability Consultants can assure that neither science nor art overwhelms the other, and that the science of sustainability does not destroy creativity and reduce the artistic endeavor.   

mills studio is responsible for providing the architectural vision / agenda and design framework in which the Sustainability Consultant can provide, in the words of VCA Green, “sustainability goals for value, performance, code compliance, marketability and environmental impact.” Among the Sustainability Consultant’s most important tasks is to help establish performance criteria, and establish specific standards and criteria that are achievable within the context of the architectural agenda and budget. In combination mills studio and the Sustainability Consultant assure the myriad of individual decisions affecting sustainability not only provide code compliance, but most importantly lead to an architecture that is sustainable and not an architecture that is about sustainability.    

Implementing the specific is how the Architecture expresses the general and implementing specific sustainability strategies is one way of making the architecture specific to its location. The Sustainability Consultant for the DTS Project House must provide the code knowledge and compliance solutions for the CALGreen Green Building Code with the City of Los Angeles amendments, Los Angeles Green Building Code Tier 2, and Title 24 Energy Code. Design strategies and material / product decisions must be made to address the specifics of water efficiency, energy efficiency, site sustainability, materials and resources, indoor air quality. It is tempting to make expedient individual decisions to satisfy code compliance and accreditation standards. The Sustainability Consultant must endeavor to focus the entire team simultaneously on the compliance implications of individual decisions, and on their implications on larger goals and architectural results which go far beyond code compliance and virtue signaling.

The Sustainability Consultant’s collaboration begins with establishing goals and criteria for making judgements, extends through the development of design implementation and design and performance documentation, continues during the construction with on-site inspections for HERS compliance, and ends with commissioning and submissions to governing authorities once construction is complete. Throughout the process the Sustainability Consultant must assure that performance criteria and specific goals are being met and provide the necessary review and documentation to assure the final design and continuing construction do not compromise compliance and optimal performance. The Sustainability Consultant leads the effort to achieve and apply for LEED certification from the initial project team building to project inspections through to the final submission of documentation.

The work of every discipline has the ability to reinforce or detract from sustainability goals and sometimes there are often seemingly competing interests. There are also often competing interests between what is considered sustainable in the short term and long term, in the construction process versus the occupation / operation of the building. The resolution of these competing interests is where the Sustainability Consultant is as much artist as engineer.   

Sustainability Consultant Statement

VCA Green is guided by the philosophy that “With the right approach, green makes great business sense.” It is VCA Green’s mission to help clients meet their sustainability goals for value, performance and environmental impact.
VCA Green – Orange, Ca

There is no ecological architecture, no intelligent architecture and no sustainable architecture – there is only good architecture.
~ Eduardo Souto de Moura