A Look Back & The Year Ahead

Happy New Year! 2010 has been an exciting year for us at evolveEA. This year, we’ve continued to help clients leverage their green buildings and “place-based” sustainability projects into broader organizational sustainability planning. Buildings and spaces are great ways to demonstrate environmental principles and to build capacity within an organization so they can explore how environmental issues create value across operations. This year we launched evolveSTRATEGY to help companies in strategic planning for their organizational sustainability efforts.
Our evolveASSIST projects were an exciting array of familiar and new markets including hospitals, headquarters, and a museum. We’ve assisted eight projects in achieving a LEED rating, including four projects that were rated Gold. One of the projects, the HSBC Egypt Global Service Centre, not only achieved a Gold rating but is the first LEED certified project in Africa.
We have also helped innovative companies review environmental issues in their existing facilities with our “buildings-in-use” services. We are in the process of completing facilities and operations sustainability measures for a number of headquarters, including those of American Eagle Outfitters, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Alcoa, and UPMC. This year, we’ll also be finalizing our work with the Green Building Alliance on the building performance and overall operations of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, reinforcing the national sustainability leadership of one of Pittsburgh’s highest profile buildings.
2010 has also been a year in which we produced new types of evolveINFORM projects. We have been creating education plans in which communication graphics within the spaces of organizations help to explain implemented sustainable measures as well as suggest actionable behaviors. We finished two education plans this year, and are in the process of completing three more in the first half of 2011. One of the most interesting projects we participated in was an informative presentation on sustainability issues for Adelaide, Australia. Working with the Government of South Australia’s Thinkers in Residence Program, we created a presentation focusing on the issues, pressure points, and successes in Adelaide’s quest for a sustainable future.
One of the highlights this year from our evolveDESIGN work was seeing how a space can catalyze an organization, like the offices we completed at the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. We stretched their understanding of how they work and made a modest warehouse office space into an effective and popular workplace. The 8′ high “End Hunger Now” graphic has apparently become a popular place for visitors to have their pictures taken as well! We’ve also completed a residential expansion that, through the use of FSC certified products, radiant floors, high efficiency heaters, outdoor living spaces, and large overhangs over southern exposures reduces the environmental impact while encouraging less energy intensive behaviors. During the design process, live feedback about carbon usage of various heating and cooling systems affected our decision making process.
We also created demonstration tools as initiators of change in our continuing design futures work. Last April, we participated in our neighborhood’s Geek Art / Green Innovators Festival. We imagined the social impact of climate change at a neighborhood scale, and built physical demonstrations along Penn avenue called Penn Green.
We’ll be starting a few new initiatives this year, including going carbon neutral! 2011 will mark our first year as a completely carbon neutral business. Although our small office is already low impact, we managed to find ways to improve our carbon emissions. For example, we’ve removed most of our fluorescent lighting in favor of task lighting which not only decreased our electric loads, but created a much nicer, happier space. Once we assessed our carbon inventory, we began implementing an action plan in the office through a number of efficiency reductions, buying 100% in-state Green-e certified wind energy, and purchasing carbon offsets for all emissions that do not result from electricity usage. We are also offering free bus passes and encouraging videoconferencing in order to reduce our travel by car and plane by 20%.
We’ll be starting a podcast series based on our teaching at local universities. It will be an interesting method for the dissemination of our research, and an exciting new arena for us!
As we begin our sixth year in business, we are excited about the transforming sensibilities that organizations are having about the value of sustainable measures. We’ll continue our work through design projects, sustainability assistance, and educational initiatives that affect people, processes, and places. Happy New Year!

Evolve EA