TOWARD A BETTER FUTURE.
We understand the social, cultural and economic impact that architecture has on everyday life, as well as the impact it has on the environment. As Architects, it is our duty to be responsible with the use of our resources. Our extensive experience with rehabilitation has allowed our firm to take part in the preservation and adaptive reuse of numerous spaces. We take this obligation seriously and honor our commitment to sustainable building practices.
The goal of sustainable design is to eliminate the negative impact our buildings have on the environment through the thoughtful use of our resources. In general, people are becoming more and more familiar with the ideas and concepts of environmentally responsible, “green” design. As a response, many products and building materials available today claim to have some type of environmental benefit. With so much information available, the “how” and “why” of green design can be confusing.
We are committed to educating our clients on the benefits of incorporating sustainable design principles in all of our projects. These ideas are not only concerned with reducing the environmental impact of our buildings, but also look at the life cycle benefit to the owner, ongoing operational maintenances, occupant comfort and heath, productivity, and economic/financial implications. Building systems are interdependent and need to be evaluated together to achieve the most benefit to the users. It is in the best interest of the project to implement these strategies early on in the design process, where the decisions can have the most significant impact and benefit.
FIRST CHICAGO BANK AND TRUST
The program for First Chicago Bank and Trust included the design and construction of a new 4,000 square foot bank on a previously developed site in Chicago's Albany Park neighborhood. Located in a very walkable area, the site is predominantly surrounded with mixed use, light commercial and retail businesses.
The project team’s goal was to design an energy efficient, accessible, healthy building that is both environmentally sensitive and cost conscious. The proposed building was intended to not only meet the needs of the Owner, but was also seen as an investment in the surrounding community to help revitalize its surroundings. Considerable thought was put into ensuring that the project would have a positive impact on the neighborhood.
The entire project team was assembled early on in the Schematic Design Phase of the project, including Architect, Landscape Architect, Civil Engineer, MEP Engineers, Commissioning Agent and General Contractor. It was decided that the project would attempt to pursue a building permit through the City of Chicago Green Permit Program as well as LEED Certification. The design team, including the Owner, reviewed the green initiatives and targeted specific credits based on several criteria, including environmental benefits, benefits to the occupants and users, long term financial payback and initial cost. This was an integrated team process, in which the design team and all affected stakeholders worked together to evaluate: the design for cost, quality‐of‐life, efficiency; overall environmental impact; productivity, creativity; and, how the occupants will be enlivened.
One of the most critical decisions was the type of heating and cooling system for the building. Several different types of building mechanical systems were investigated using computer modeling and energy simulation. These calculations helped assist the Owners see the initial cost and long‐term paybacks associated with each system. Based on the early analysis, it was determined a vertical loop, geothermal heat pump system would be the most efficient and cost‐effective long term solution for the Owners.
To complement the high efficiency mechanical system, a high performance building envelope has been thoughtfully detailed and designed to limit any potential heat loss. A fluid applied air barrier system was specified to limit any energy loss due to air infiltration between building components, one of the main culprits of energy loss in buildings. The envelope not only uses increased levels of insulation, but also optimizes the use of the insulation by virtually eliminating thermal bridging around the perimeter of the structure. The insulation runs continuously from roof ridge to foundation footing, with high performance windows and continuous insulation under the floor slab to mitigate any potential heat loss. These components are important not only to the energy performance of a building, but also for the improved indoor air quality and moisture management of the building.
Natural day lighting strategies are employed in all regularly occupied spaces, coupled with energy efficient light fixtures that have photo sensors to automatically dim lighting levels when natural lighting is available. Occupancy sensors also switch lights off when spaces are unoccupied to further save on energy costs.
Extensive material research was also conducted to ensure that the right materials were selected for the job. Resource efficiency not only refers to energy consumption and energy conservation, but efficiency in the use of materials as well. All building components, including building structure, exterior components and interior finishes, were specifically selected for their low impact on the environment. High recycle content or rapidly renewable materials were selected wherever possible. Products that were locally harvested and manufactured were given priority to support the use of indigenous resources and reduce the environmental impacts associated with transportation. In addition, products were selected to reduce the quantity of potential indoor air contaminants and pollutants, improving the comfort and health of the users and occupants of the building.