Bridging the gap between believing in and achieving sustainable design

Dominique Davison / August 28, 2018

Today 90 percent of architects, engineers and construction industry professionals believe that sustainability is important. That’s the finding of an independent survey that we conducted with more than 3,000 industry professionals.  

Clearly, people care about the impact our industry has on the planet, including our clients. Yet, despite that pervasive belief, the New York Times reports that carbon emissions actually increased 1.4 percent globally in 2017. Nearly half of those emissions (44.6 percent) in the U.S. are attributed to buildings, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.  

So, why aren’t we having more success in implementing more efficient designs? Our industry has set LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) goals to address it. But we struggle to meet those goals. The same goes for our ability to fulfill our promise for the Architecture 2030 commitment.

Where’s the disconnect? 

It comes down to three things: time, expense and complexity.

  • The collaborative time it takes to research and justify better building performance 
  • The expense of analyzing varying sets of data and evolving LEED standards 
  • The array of complexities that influence a quantifiable recommendation  

Yet, without adequate data, how do we convince clients that our design recommendations are a justifiable investment?   

The challenges are clear, and so is the solution.  

A software tool like PlanIT Impact gives you the ability to immediately calculate and analyze the impact that energy, water, storm water and transportation have on building performance and efficiency by:

  • Quickly and easily identifying design decisions that make economic and environmental sense.
  • Helping your clients readily understand the ROI of their decisions.
  • Credibly demonstrating how to reduce total cost of ownership for your clients and the community.
  • Collaborating early and often to ensure the knowledge shared amongst industry professionals leads to long-term benefits for the entire project.

Both an obligation and an opportunity

Doctors are experts in their field who take an oath to “do no harm” when they practice medicine. In our industry, every building—unless it is net zero or better—actually does harm to our environment and our communities’ health. We, too, have an obligation to work toward more sustainable building—and based on our poll, the industry overwhelmingly agrees.  

PlanIT Impact helps bridge that gap between delivering solutions with confidence for our clients and minimizing the time, cost and complexity to do so. By having the data-driven insights at our fingertips when decisions have to be made, we’re in a much better position to move the needle toward net zero or regenerative design. 

What kind of data do you need to better fulfill your sustainability goals? Tweet us at @PlanITImpact or visit our Facebook page to share your thoughts.


Dominique is the founder and CEO of PlanIT Impact, and principal of DRAW Architecture + Urban Design, an award-winning practice based in Kansas City, Mo. She is an author and frequent national speaker in the sustainable and smart city space. Visit our website to learn how together we can build better buildings. 

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