On Sustainability, SmithGroupJJR Leads by Example

Tags: built environment (774)

SmithGroupJJR stands out from other architecture and planning firms in several ways, but one of the most noticeable is how the fully integrated practice of 1,200 incorporates all disciplines, from lighting design to structural, in house.

One department it doesn’t have? Sustainability. “All of our jobs have that bent in mind whether requested or not; it’s just part of the culture here,” says Rob Moylan, design principal within the Commercial Interiors division. “It’s expected of everyone.”

Indeed, the firm has continually been at the forefront of healthy, environmentally friendly design, whether it's being one of the first to achieve LEED Platinum, adopting the targets of the Architecture 2030 Challenge, or incorporating products carrying environmental product declarations.

“We try to go beyond the obvious, easy ways to achieve sustainability,” Moylan says.

As part of that envelope-pushing, SmithGroupJJR was one of the first architecture firms to make a concerted effort to incorporate Cradle to Cradle Certified products into its projects. Moylan’s first foray was the renovation of the firm’s Washington, D.C., office a few years ago. Even in those earlier days of product certification, the team was able to specify Cradle to Cradle for about 13% of the products, including Shaw carpet, MechoSystems shades for all perimeter and conference room shading, Xorel fabric for all wallcovering and fabric-wrapped panels, Office Specialty storage and files, and Haworth Planes tables.

Most recently, SmithGroupJJR donated its time to lead the interior design of the Unity Home, a demonstration project on the show floor of Greenbuild that incorporated more than 20 Cradle to Cradle Certified products. “That you can really have an attractive, inviting space using C2C products was eye-opening for us and I think most people at the show,” Moylan recalls. “It was the paint and the flooring and the mattresses, so it really is interesting that C2C can really permeate your life.”

The Unity Home is just one more way SmithGroupJJR has made itself an example of the possibilities of sustainable design and provided leadership and education for the benefit of the broader industry.

“For us, it’s ‘how can we prove that this is possible?’” Moylan says. “Whenever anything new comes out, no one wants to be first. We not only try to be cutting-edge design-wise, but also see these new efforts not as restrictions but as opportunities.”

Stay tuned for a virtual tour of the Unity Home, coming next month.

Have a Cradle to Cradle project or story to share? We want to hear from you! Email Stacy Glass at [email protected]

Image credit: ©Eric Laignel