Good design is sustainable. A truly sustainable project is well designed and is a desirable building. Early discipline integration is a key element of an integrated, holistic design process and results from core design values. Merging a passion for design excellence with values of site sensitivity, resource efficiency, energy-saving technologies, and conscientious material use involves each member of the project team. This approach produces quality design that goes beyond prescriptive sustainable design guide requirements.
The topics discussed in this article draw upon experience from a selection of more than twenty projects totaling over six million square feet, including projects that are LEED® registered and certified, including projects pursuing gold certification, following Minnesota's Sustainable Building Guide (B3) and following Green Guide for Health Care™ (GGHC). Project types drawn upon for this article include office buildings, hospitals, laboratories, museums, multi-family housing, education facilities, green design done prior to today's recognized design guides, and those projects that go beyond the checklist. This article will focus on selected green strategies that have been common among many projects. It will also look at challenges faced by some building types; the overall design and project process; representative project examples; and specific strategies that involve early interdisciplinary coordination, cost considerations, material examples and specifications issues, and construction quality.