This Earth Day, we are reflecting on the current state of our world and our community. As an organization, we are committed to sustainability now more than ever, and more conscious of how the rapidly changing world around us affects not only the spaces we design, but also our team that so beautifully designs them.
With COVID 19 changing the status quo, it’s a good time to reflect on our mission and our values. It also seems like a great time to highlight a few updates about our 2020 sustainability efforts, and to refresh our passion and commitment to leadership in the sustainability space.
As a milestone year in our industry’s journey towards carbon neutrality by 2030, we are happy to report our progress in a newly updated Action Plan. In December of 2016 Feldman Architecture signed onto the 2030 Challenge and AIA 2030 Commitment, two programs that are promoting a vision that calls for all new buildings, developments, and renovations to be carbon-neutral by 2030. As part of this commitment Feldman Architecture’s Sustainability AOE has crafted this Action Plan to serve as a roadmap to help us achieve our goals, as well as to encourage more sustainable practices within the firm. In it we outline short and long-term goals in areas that go beyond just sustainable design, including community outreach and office culture.
This year, we are releasing a 2020 update to our sustainability Action Plan on Earth Day– outlining our progress from the past year and highlighting both what we have achieved and where we can improve. A highlight includes our recently launched Zero Carbon Operations Plan for our office.
Secondly, this spring, Jonathan Feldman was appointed to the AIA California COTE (Committee on the Environment) which works to educate and inform the design community about environmental and preservation issues and advise the organization on policy matters affecting the practice of architecture. Jonathan is excited to be serving on the communications subcommittee, working alongside peers to drive our industry in a sustainable and responsible direction.
And lastly, we are excited to say that our newly appointed Sustainability Integration Leader, and longtime FA Associate Ben Welty, is working with AIA SF on programming for their Sustainability Symposium this fall. Stay tuned for more!
We hope everyone is staying healthy and safe this spring- with an overwhelming amount of uncertainty and anxiety circulating, it’s easy to feel unmoored. Here at Feldman Architecture, we have transitioned our team to a fully remote workflow, and are working hard to continue to move our current projects forward while keeping an ear to the ground for new opportunities. Through this difficult time, we are finding reassurance and strength in our extremely hardworking, dedicated and talented team, as well as our amazing community of collaborators. Please enjoy a few updates, a glimpse into remote working as an architect, and more in our spring newsletter – which can be found here!
Spring 2020 Sustainability Updates: Notes from Carbon Positive 20, and AIA 2030 Commitment Reporting
Our sustainability committee is off to a productive and eventful 2020! Last week, FA Associate Ben Welty attended the Carbon Positive ’20 conference in LA, organized by Architect Magazine and Architecture 2030, meeting with some of the top studios and professionals in the nation to discuss reducing and offsetting carbon in the design world. Below, find some nuggets of wisdom from Ben – who made sure to keep us updated back in San Francisco on lessons learned.
- The original goal of carbon neutrality by 2050 is too late. If we don’t zero out our carbon emissions by 2040 and avoid a 1.5C increase in average global temperatures, we will experience a climate change that is irreversible.
- Everybody here knows we can accomplish our goals. And we’re intent to go back to our communities with this shared knowledge and make a difference. Fortunately, the design and construction industry still has the power to affect change. We drive policy decisions, advancements in technology, and public awareness.
- The production of Cement (the binding agent in concrete) accounts for 8% of total global emissions. Steel production accounts for 7%. China has poured more concrete in the last four years than the U.S. did in the 20th century. Alternative production methods will be key to us reaching our goals.
- While we’re trying to eliminate fossil fuel use in the building industry-we’re still using fossil fuel-based products (rigid insulation) to reduce our reliance on coal and natural gas. Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) is essentially the same material we legislated out of the food packaging industry 30 years ago.
- Hemp seems poised to play a big part in reducing our CO2 emissions moving forward as states continue to loosen hemp regulations.
- Women accounted for roughly 40% of newly licensed architects in 2019. 50% of this conference’s speakers are women, and by my estimation at least 50% of the attendees are women. So while still
underrepresented in the field their contributions in battling the global climate crisis outweighs their male counterparts.
On another note, it’s been 3 years since Feldman Architecture first committed to the 2030Challenge– joining more than 1,000 firms across the nation in a pledge to create only carbon-neutral buildings by 2030. This January, our firm was the first to report our annual progress on carbon neutrality to the AIA 2030 Commitment Design Data Exchange (DDx), enabling others to learn from our work. We hope that in sharing our processes and challenges, we can encourage transparency and prioritize leadership in reducing our carbon footprint. Stay tuned for our annual detailed report on our 2030 Action Plan, to be published soon!
Kendall’s passion for interior design burgeoned during a trip abroad to Paris- where she became enamored with French architecture and antiques. Combined with her love for nature, specifically natural and organic patterns, Kendall found her niche in interior design after graduating from UC San Diego, she pursued a degree at San Francisco Academy of Art College, specializing in design.
Staying true to her roots, Kendall’s interests have remained in both French and classic design- but have undergone a degree of modernization for today’s clientele. She describes her personal style as romantic, however, “it’s gotten more tonal – leaning towards a neutral palette.” As she developed her practice, Kendall Wilkinson Design, Kendall aimed to create aesthetically pleasing homes, without being too precious or over the top.
Kendall described her ideal relationship with an architect as “synergetic, communicative, and respectful” and emphasized that the more cohesive a team, the better the working relationship, and the better the final product.
On our Woodpecker Ranch project, Kendall pointed to this synergy that made the collaboration successful and worthwhile. “FA did not only have a good lead architect they had a good all-around team.” This consistency found across team members made problem solving more efficient, the teams were able to consult each other before turning to the client, which saved everyone time and money- and resulted in one of her favorite projects.
Most recently, KWD released a new line of fabrics, partnering with Fabricut, – Kendall’s first collection of indoor-outdoor textiles and trims. “All of the inspiration came from my travels: images, moments, sights and even sounds that resonated with me,” Wilkinson says. “My trips to Paris and Mexico significantly inspired me. A lot of the geometrical patterns stem from Paris, particularly how the light reflects and refracts on the architecture. Mexico inspired bright colors and more botanical elements.” Read more in Luxe!
Kate Stickley fell into landscape architecture by chance, a suggestion from her college counselor, as a path that could combine her love of the outdoors, patterns, weather and art. Her career began in Florida, master planning international resorts and hotels, where she realized what was missing in her experience and process, “for me the connection with the end user is so important. This type of work didn’t allow me to connect with the individuals who were actually going to be interacting with the landscape.” After practicing around the world, she was ready to settle into her own practice, focusing on residential projects.
After moving to the Bay Area- Kate joined forces with close confidant and collaborator Vera Gates and together they birthed Arterra– a name encompassing the core of their work Art + Terra (Latin for Earth). Growing a practice while raising families solidified Arterra’s values as a residential firm- family centric, women run, and sustainably focused.
Gretchen Whittier described her growth into a landscape architect as a “regression.” As the daughter of a stone mason and a gardener on a 30 acre property in New Hampshire, concepts like soil management are in her blood. It wasn’t until getting behind a drafting table in a UC Berkeley extension class did she realize that landscape architecture fed all of her varying interests. Gretchen joined Arterra in 2005, and was promoted to partner in 2015.
Today, Arterra has found their niche as local leaders in site sensitive, sustainable, residential landscaping. The firm began designing small urban gardens, but has since grown to bigger and more environmentally complex projects. They find joy in connecting with their clients in envisioning their long term goals- and achieving them in the most sustainable way possible.
The Arterra team has always thought that working native and Mediterranean plants into their landscapes made the most sense aesthetically and environmentally – even before it was trendy. They aim for their designs to seamlessly connect architecture to the site, finding harmony between the two.
This organic indoor connection is perfectly framed in our Sonoma Wine Country project- designed as a dialogue between landscape, architecture, and site. Kate remembers being so in tune with the Feldman team that even a slight redesign in to the master bath lead to a re-envisioning of some of the outdoor elements, which in turn sparked a reference to the interior fireplace. “That’s what why we love working with FA, we value each other’s contribution in the design process, and our teams collaborate beautifully and effectively.”
“There is no signature Arterra garden. Our landscaping is all specifically tailored to the site and the architecture. We want our clients to say ‘I cannot even remember what it looked like before.’ It should look like it has always been there”- Kate Stickley
|Happy New Year! We are getting back to work, and looking forward to experiencing all that 2020 has to offer. To kick off a productive January, we wanted to share a few general firm updates, as well as highlight the pro bono projects we are excited to be working on alongside a few amazing organizations in our community. Read more in our most recent newsletter!
We are happy to share three brand new promotions, recently announced at our December holiday party! Anjali Iyer and Heera Basi were promoted to Associate positions, and Lindsey Theobald was named the Director of Interiors and a Senior Associate. Feldman Architecture is so proud to have these wildly talented architects leading our team into 2020- and cannot wait to see all that they accomplish!
With 2020 just days away, it’s a good time to reflect on our big picture sustainability objectives as a firm, and acknowledge all that we have accomplished over the past year- keeping in mind our goal to be Carbon Neutral by 2030.
This year, our goal was to pass our Title 24 Energy models by a minimum of 10%. In 2019, we averaged a 13% compliance margin across our reporting portfolio.
Translating this information into our 2030 reporting and looking through the lens of the EUI (Energy Use Intensity) of our project portfolio, in 2019 we averaged a 68% reduction from baseline energy use. Although this did not meet the 2030 goal of a 70% reduction, we did improve by 4% over our 2018 reporting portfolio. Each year, we are moving closer and closer to the baseline target, which is rising to 80% in 2020.
This year, we also created an internal sustainability checklist to track project goals across a variety of phases. Our team is working on integrating conversations early on in the design process, outlining sustainability goals and ways to improve our building’s energy and thermal performance. We now use Sefaira, an energy tracking and modeling software, to perform energy and lighting studies for each of our projects – bringing energy performance into the design process at the project’s conception.
Furthermore, we now look at our projects in terms of their Carbon footprint, both operationally and embodied. Thinking more holistically about our project’s CO2 footprint, instead of just their EUI, allows us to weigh the gas and electric usage differently in each of our projects, giving us a better sense of how close we are to our 2030 Carbon Neutral goal. Stay tuned for an update on our carbon metrics in the first quarter of 2020!