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Sustainable
Design

As a leader in an industry that contributes significantly to resource use and carbon emissions we are in a position to facilitate change and set an environmentally responsible agenda to reshape the design process. As architects and planners we want to use less of the world’s limited resources, and we have an ethical responsibility to ensure we play a significant part in the creation of sustainable projects. We see sustainable design as a driver, as an integral aspect of the creative process – equal to user satisfaction and contextual response.

Constant innovators of sustainable design solutions, we pioneered the integration of bio-filter wall technology in buildings, were early adaptors of geo-exchange technology to reduce energy consumption, and promoted grey water recycling long before building codes recognized the benefits.

Our insight on the impact of sustainable design continues to evolve as we challenge the norms of energy provision and utilization in projects. Through collaboration with our clients and consultant partners we seek to offer innovative solutions to address the principles of social, economic and ecological sustainability.

living walls

Diamond Schmitt Architects pioneered the commercial application of the biofilter living wall. This co-developed technology reduces demand on mechanical systems to heat, cool and humidify internal air. Living walls are a visually striking addition to atria and can be upwards of five-stories high. Anecdotal evidence attributes higher productivity, lower absenteeism and an improved sense of well-being to these installations. Indoor air is cleansed of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and other pollutants by the exposed roots of tropical plants. The air is then recycled through the building’s mechanical system, which lowers the energy costs associated with treating outside air. We have designed 14 biofilter living walls to date.

ecoMetrics

Diamond Schmitt has taken a leadership role in the development of a sustainable design database focused on energy-use reduction for the broad range of building types in our portfolio. We have invested in creating ecoMetrics, a powerful, interactive visual database containing energy simulation models for more than 40 of our LEED certified projects.  This database reveals project performance in relation to energy benchmarking systems – LEED, codes, 2030 Challenge and kWhr/m2 – and creates a common language to engage our clients and consultant and project teams in an informed conversation about establishing appropriate energy reduction targets.

ecoMetrics’ greatest asset is its ability to compare all of our projects in a consistent fashion. Predicted energy use in kWhr/m2 allows for an ‘apples-to-apples’ comparison to analyze the energy use equation and to ask the right questions to facilitate and drive innovation. The Vital Signs tool highlights the key metrics impacting energy efficiency – design factors, such as volume-to-floor area efficiency; percentage of glazing to wall area; occupancy loads and specific program requirements including ventilation rates; and HVAC system efficiency.

This detailed comparative analysis is a major step forward to informing energy demand decisions in the future. Driven by data, innovative design can be that much more energy efficient and the context of a net zero energy environment that much more attainable.