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Lessons Learned from Award Winning Sustainable Design Projects

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High-performance and passive design practices are being applied to projects of all types, scales and budgets. 

In order to examine how the architectural community is evolving in regards to sustainable design practices, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Committee on the Environment (COTE) undertook an in-depth study of nearly 200 COTE Top Ten Award winning projects encompassing almost 20 years.

The findings have been complied in a report, Lessons from the Leading Edge, that reviewed a variety of performance measures, including energy efficiency, water conservation, and indoor environmental quality to evaluate how these exemplary projects demonstrate COTE’s mission to “enhance both the design quality and environmental performance of the built environment.” The research represents the most comprehensive study of the COTE Top Ten program to date.

“Top Ten winners are an extraordinary group of case studies from the leading edge of sustainable design over the past two decades,” said Lance Hosey, FAIA, lead author of the report and a member of the COTE Advisory Group. “The projects have been studied and published widely as individual projects, but never as a group—until now. What we found is that Top Ten winners are outpacing the industry by virtually every standard of performance, but they also exemplify the integration of design excellence and sustainable performance.”

Key takeaways from report:

  • Many project examples show extraordinary performance at very low or average costs, dispelling the misperception that higher building performance requires higher costs.
  • Projects range in size from small houses under 1,000 square feet to community master plans at millions of square feet.
  • The average energy savings for these projects is 54% better than industry standards.  In the past five years, the average energy savings has improved to 65%, exceeding AIA 2030 Commitment targets.
  • The average water reduction is 52% better than industry standards.
  • The majority of projects are in urban locations, while less than one fifth are found in rural areas. One third of all Top Ten winners are located on the West Coast of North America.

COTE founding chairman, Bob Berkebile, FAIA, added, “We have seen a significant transformation in how these project examples have evolved and advanced.  Initially, the design teams were acutely focused on efficiencies within an individual building and in recent years they are also looking at more horizontal and far-reaching economic, ecological, social equity, public health and resilient outcomes.”

Recommendations for architecture and design industry:

  • Embrace design before technology to improve both performance and quality
  • Study best practices for higher performance at lower costs
  • Pursue post-occupancy evaluations as standard practice to understand better how actual performance aligns with design intent
  • Promote more ambitious adaptive reuse projects to preserve existing building stock and conserve resources more extensively
  • Drive greater awareness of the health impact of building materials and need for better indoor air quality

Lessons from the Leading Edge is being released in advance of the 2016 Top Ten Green Project awards, to be announced on Earth Day, April 22nd. A special session on the report will occur at the national AIA convention in Philadelphia on Saturday, May 26.

About The American Institute of Architects
Founded in 1857, the American Institute of Architects consistently works to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings, neighborhoods, and communities.

HOK Designs Big Airport Infrastructure Project

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The world’s most traveled airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, is embarking on a $6 billion, 20-year expansion and modernization program. As part of the capital improvement program, HOK is leading the joint venture team designing a $200 million improvement to the airport’s domestic passenger terminal. Construction will begin later in 2016 and include the addition of two large canopies over curbside pick-up and drop-off areas and a redesigned central atrium space.

In 2015, the 207-gate Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport became the world’s first airport to handle more than 100 million passengers in a year, reaching a high of 101.5 million. The design of the terminal modernization will improve the passenger experience as the airport prepares to serve even more travelers in the coming decades.

“The airport’s vision is to demystify traveling through the airport and create an exceptional experience for all its guests,” said Ripley Rasmus, AIA, an HOK senior design principal and lead designer for the project. “The flexibility of our team’s design accommodates both the focused, curb-to-gate weekly business travelers and the more leisurely, casual visitors who may stop to patronize retailers and other airport amenities.”

The passenger terminal improvements begin with the creation of a curbside drop-off protected by arched canopies composed of translucent ETFE (ethylene tetrafluoroethylene) panels supported by a contemporary steel frame. The 864-foot-long canopies are designed to redefine the character of the building as a 21st-century air terminal. Additionally, the canopies provide shading to reduce heat gain and shelter travelers from the elements. New building facades will feature fritted glass panels that depict the forested character of Atlanta’s regional landscape with images of its city parks.

Inside, expansive windows flood check-in areas with natural light. The design of the 15,000-square-foot atrium presents a lush, park-like setting brightened by a circular skylight where passengers will enjoy increased seating options with easy access to power and data connections. A pavilion backdrop will serve as a bandstand for performances and airport events and will incorporate elements of the steel frame from the exterior canopies. The atrium will host several retailers and large pieces of artwork that strengthen the connection of the green space to the sky.

“The design converts the atrium from a processing space to an engaging civic area that connects visitors and travelers to Atlanta, reinforcing the airport as an ambassador for the region,” said Rasmus.

The high-performance design features energy-efficient cladding and building systems. Ceilings will be altered to improve the harvesting of natural light and to optimize interior lighting systems, which include LED lighting.

Improved circulation and signage systems will make wayfinding intuitive. A clearly marked airport security screening zone leads passengers from the atrium to concourses and gates. Improvements to the baggage claim area include highly visible digital monitors and new speaker systems.

The HOK-led joint venture for the terminal modernization includes Stanley, Love-Stanley, P.C., and Chasm Architecture, L.L.C., both headquartered in Atlanta.

The airport’s $6 billion modernization will also include improvements to concourses, hospitality and retail services, runways, cargo, parking and support facilities.

HOK’s Aviation + Transportation group designs high-performance passenger terminals, stations, intermodal facilities, automatic people mover systems, light rail systems and other transportation amenities. The firm creates exceptional passenger experiences while increasing value for owners and tenants by boosting revenue streams, improving operational efficiencies and minimizing the impact on the environment. Current and recent projects include design of LaGuardia Airport’s New Terminal B Project in New York City; Salt Lake City International Airport’s Terminal Redevelopment in Salt Lake City, Utah; the Hamad International Airport Passenger Terminal Complex in Doha, Qatar; Will Rogers World Airport’s Terminal Expansion in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Tampa International Airport’s Main Terminal and Concessions Redevelopment in Tampa, Florida; Astana International Airport’s Terminal Development in Kazakhstan; and the London Gatwick Airport Capital Investment Program.

HOK is a global design, architecture, engineering and planning firm. Through a network of 24 offices worldwide, HOK provides design excellence and innovation to create places that enrich people’s lives and help clients succeed. Design Intelligence consistently ranks HOK as a leader in sustainable, high-performance design and technology innovation.


in People

Bapsy Rodrigues Joins HOK’s St. Louis Office as Senior Tax Accountant

Babsy Rodriques
Babsy Rodriques

Bapsy Rodrigues, CPA, has joined HOK as a senior tax accountant in St. Louis. Rodrigues will work with departmental leaders in planning and managing budgets, as well as provide support in all tax issues and filings.

Prior to joining HOK, Rodrigues was a tax supervisor at Abengoa ABD. She earned her degree in commerce from St. Agnes College in Mangalore, India.

HOK is a global design, architecture, engineering and planning firm.

Todd Schirach Hired as DMS

Todd Scharich, Seneca, S.C., has been named director of member services of the American Society of Concrete Contractors, (ASCC), St. Louis, MO, according to Bev Garnant, executive director.  Scharich has served in a part-time position with ASCC, as decorative concrete specialist, since 2012.  He will retain those responsibilities as well.

Scharich managed a family-owned masonry construction firm in the 90s and opened decorative concrete supply outlets serving the upper Midwest in 2000.  He has been a World of Concrete speaker since 2003, in addition to speaking at numerous other events and meetings across the country.  Scharich is a frequent author for Concrete Construction, Concrete International, Concrete Contractor and Concrete Décor magazines.  He is a member of ACI  310 Decorative Concrete Design and Construciton.

“Todd has been an advocate and innovator in the decorative concrete industry for many years,” says Garnant.  “He has helped increase the level of workmanship through education and training, while increasing the demand for decorative concrete within the design and construction industries.  We are extremely pleased that he has joined ASCC in a full time position.”

The ASCC is a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the capabilities of those who build with concrete, and to providing them a unified voice in the construction industry.

Angie Eslinger Promoted to Senior Associate

Angie Eslinger
Angie Eslinger

Angie Eslinger, AIA, LEED AP was recently promoted to senior associate for Lawrence Group’s senior living studio. Eslinger joined Lawrence Group in 2005 and brought with her more than three years of project design experience and leadership. Angie is a registered architect and LEED® AP.

Lawrence Group is a building design, development, and project delivery firm headquartered in St. Louis.

Sarah Davis Joins HOK’s St. Louis Office as Model Maker

Sarah Davis
Sarah Davis

Sarah Davis has joined HOK as a model maker in St. Louis. Davis will use wood, plastic, laser cutting and 3D printing in the office’s model shop to visually convey HOK’s design solutions to clients.

Before joining HOK, Davis worked as a project administrator at Alberici Constructors and a digital design specialist at Emerald City Jewelers. Davis earned her degree in integrated studio arts from Iowa State University.

HOK is a global design, architecture, engineering and planning firm

REMIGER DESIGN and Sansone Group Bring New Starbucks, Mattress Direct to Sunset Hills

in Companies

Development at 10775 Watson Road scheduled to open in late spring 2016

REMIGER DESIGN, a St. Louis-based planning, architecture and interior design firm, provided architectural services including a completely original design to the new Starbucks and Mattress Direct development in Sunset Hills. The project, currently under construction at 10775 Watson Road, is being developed by Sansone Group and is scheduled for completion in spring 2016.

“It’s an honor to put our unique stamp on an original design for these well-known retailers,” said Vern Remiger, president of REMIGER DESIGN. “We are very grateful to have worked with the entire project team, including Sansone Group. This development will bring beauty and functionality to this growing corridor in St. Louis County.”

The one-of-a-kind design of the building creates a modern aesthetic for the 4,500 square foot split tenant facility. HBD Construction is the project contractor, BFA is the civil engineer and Aedifica Case Engineering is the structural engineer.

REMIGER DESIGN is a St. Louis-based planning, architecture and interior design firm specializing in the planning and design of commercial and corporate facilities.

OSHA Updates Eye And Face Protection Standards In Final Rule

in Associations/Uncategorized

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has published a final rule that updates requirements for personal protective equipment for workers in general industry, shipyards, longshoring, marine terminals and construction.

The final rule reflects current national consensus standards, and ensures that workers can use up-to-date eye and face protection.

The rule updates references in OSHA’s Eye and Face Protection Standards to recognize the ANSI/ISEA Z87.1-2010, Occupational and Educational Personal Eye and Face Protection Devices, while deleting the outdated 1986 edition of that same national consensus standard. OSHA is also retaining the 2003 and 1989 (R-1998) versions of the ANSI standard already referenced in its standard.

In addition, the final rule updates the construction standard by deleting the 1968 version of the ANSI standard that was referenced and now includes the same three ANSI standards referenced above to ensure consistency among the agency’s standards.

OSHA’s final rule becomes effective on April 25, 2016.

OSHA Announces Final Rule on Exposure to Silica Dust

in Associations

On March 24, 2016 OSHA announced a final rule to improve protections for workers exposed to respirable silica dust. OSHA says the rule will curb lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease in America’s workers by limiting their exposure to respirable crystalline silica.

The new rule dramatically lowers the allowable exposure to silica dust over an eight-hour workday from 250 micrograms per cubic meter of air to 50 micrograms.

“The previous exposure limits were outdated and did not adequately protect workers,” said OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels. “Limiting exposure to silica dust is essential. Every year, many exposed workers not only lose their ability to work, but also to breathe. Today, we are taking action to bring worker protections into the 21st century in ways that are feasible and economical for employers to implement.”

About 2.3 million men and women face exposure to respirable crystalline silica in their workplaces, including two million construction workers who drill and cut materials such as concrete and stone, and 300,000 workers in operations such as brick manufacturing, foundries and hydraulic fracturing. OSHA estimates that when the final rule becomes fully effective, it will save more than 600 lives annually and prevent more than 900 new cases of silicosis – an incurable and progressive disease – each year. The agency also estimates the final rule will provide net benefits of about $7.7 billion per year

OSHA says most employers can limit harmful dust exposure by using equipment that is widely available – such as using water to keep dust from getting into the air or a ventilation system to remove it from the air. The rule provides greater compliance assistance to construction employers – many of which run small businesses – by including a table of specified controls they can follow to be in compliance. The rule also staggers compliance dates to ensure employers have sufficient time to meet its requirements.

Tool companies already are promoting tools that they claim will help employers meet the new standard. Bosch Power Tools, for example, has started promoting its Speed Clean Bits as “part of a comprehensive system that reduces dust while producing precise, clean holes in concrete.”

The final rule is written as two standards, one for construction and one for general industry and maritime. In addition to reducing the permissible exposure limit for crystalline silica, the rule includes employer requirements such as limiting worker exposure through work practices and engineering controls (such as water or ventilation); providing respiratory protection when controls are insufficient; training workers; limiting their access to high exposure areas and providing medical exams to highly exposed workers.

Safety Pays, Falls Cost

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2016 National Safety Stand-Down May 2-6, 2016 

Whether you fall 20 stories or 20 feet, a workplace fall can change your life in seconds. It can be debilitating, causing you to lose your livelihood – or even your life. Even the most experienced of workers can fall without the proper safety measures in place.

In 2014 alone, 337 workers died from falls on construction sites. Falls also remain the leading cause of death in the construction industry and lack of proper fall protection remains the most frequently cited violation by OSHA.

Each year across the country, employers, workers, safety associations and OSHA dedicate time to spreading the word that stopping falls can save lives.

Last year marked the second annual National Safety Stand-Down for fall prevention in construction, a combined effort from OSHA, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training. During the stand-down, employers and workers paused their workday to focus on preventing falls through talks, demonstrations and trainings.

The Stand-Down has been a tremendous success the last two years.  Nearly 1 million workers received certificates during the first stand-down and 2.5 million last year. Stand-Downs were reported in all 50 states and internationally. Over the past two years, small businesses, large corporations, and some of the country’s biggest construction companies have stopped their work to dedicate time to fall safety.

Though most of the stand-downs took place in the commercial construction, participation was not limited to the construction industry. Nearly 15% of Stand-Down participants were non-construction employers. In fact, the largest single participant in 2015 was the United States Air Force, reaching approximately 1.5 million active duty, civilian and reserve service men and women.

In the shadow of the historic U.S. Capitol Dome restoration project, on Wednesday, May 6, 2015, hundreds of construction workers stopped work and gathered in a park near the U.S. Capitol building to focus on their safety. The event was hosted by Turner Construction with support from the Architect of the Capitol, and the U.S. Department of Labor. DOL Deputy Secretary Chris Lu challenged those gathered to “keep talking about fall hazards, keep educating and training your workers, and keep dedicating yourselves to preventing falls at your worksites. “This year, our goal is to have over 5 million workers participate from May 2 to 6, 2016.  As the economy continues to grow and the full construction season beings, we hope the Stand-Down will remind employers and workers that fall prevention is an important part of every workplace safety plan.

“Falls continue to effect workers in all kinds of jobs across the country; it’s a broad problem that has a terrible impact on workers and their families,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “It’s clear that this is an important issue to a great number of people across this nation. Through innovative and collaborative efforts like the National Safety Stand-Down, we are able to reach countless workers and employers and emphasis the importance of preventing falls on the jobsite.”

Employers and workers all over the nation are encouraged to pause in their workday to talk about fall prevention in construction, and dedicate themselves yet again to the safety of this nation’s most valuable resource: workers.

To learn how to partner with OSHA during the Stand-Down, get information on how to conduct a successful event, resources for employees and workers, receive a certificate of participation, and the latest news, visit

OSHA schedules Special Meeting of the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health

in Associations

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration will hold a special meeting of the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health to discuss a draft construction version of the agency’s Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines. The meeting will be held April 25-26, 2016, in Washington, D.C.

The agenda includes remarks from Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels, drafting the construction version of the SHPM Guidelines, and a public comment period.

ACCSH will meet from 1 – 5 p.m., Monday, April 25 and from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Tuesday, April 26. Both meetings will be held in Room N-3437 A-C, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20210.

The meetings are open to the public. Persons interested in submitting written comments or requests to speak may do so electronically at, the Federal eRulemaking Portal, using Docket No. OSHA-2016-0009. Submissions will also be accepted via mail or facsimile. See the Federal Register notice for details. Comments and requests to speak are due by April 15, 2016.

Restoration Affiliates (RA) has announced its new officers for one-year terms, 2016-2017

in Associations


Ras Fenger

Disaster One, Inc.


SucatoExecutive Vice President

Justin Sucato

Carrara Companies


McCutcheon Treasurer

Sean McCutcheon

Catastrophe Services, Inc.


Bogar Past President

Debbie Bogar



RA is a national network of the leading, independent, full-service disaster restoration companies in America. RA currently has 22 full members and 13 associates producing close to $500 million in disaster restoration services coast-to-coast. RA provides single-source solutions for all fire, water, and storm related emergencies. RA provides national coverage combined with local expertise.

To inquire about membership, visit or

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