Leadership in Sustainability

For the third year in a row, the Design Futures Council and DesignIntelligence have ranked HOK as the most-admired firm in the world for its leadership in sustainable and high-performance design.  This is indeed an honor and a privilege.

“HOK is a firm often cited for making a difference. … HOK is recognized for breaking new ground with clear, practical and inspirational leadership.  HOK staff is admired for its compelling case studies, engaging thought leadership, and insights that lead to making wise decisions to benefit the planet’s future condition.”
James Cramer
Co-Chair, Design Futures Council
Founding Editor, DesignIntelligence

We owe much of our leadership status to our clients. It is our clients who bring their vision and ambition, their guts to pursue new ideas and innovative solutions; their open minds. In today’s economy no one wants to risk project investment on unproven technology or materials, so leadership in sustainability is always a balancing act of good, proven design methodology and new concepts. For example, we have learned that green buildings often do not perform up to their expectations when the occupants do not participate in the process of efficient operations. Engaging building occupants is a no-low capital investment with huge rewards. Sometimes a lower-tech building can achieve great things with the right level of participation.

At the KAPSARC project in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

In addition, sometimes we’re able to leverage design tools to bring project costs down. In the DC Consolidated Forensic Lab project, using tools such as Revit and clash detection programs helped bring a very high performance building in under budget.

DC Consolidated Forensic Laboratory

We were able to include even more costly performance elements, such as the automated louver wall on the South façade, because we were able to bring the project in under budget. The Consolidated Forensic Lab will be certified at LEED Gold level.

Louver Wall at DC Consolidated Forensic Laboratory

Our design partners, the consulting engineers and specialty designers we work with, also bring a lot to the table. We appreciate it when all team members show up at the table with creative ideas and sustainable solutions.  For example, we have three projects at DC’s New York Avenue Metro Station, One, Two and Three Constitution Square.

Constitution Square I, II and III

One and Two are already LEED Platinum Certified and Three is well on its way. Our MEP consultant (GHT) suggested harvesting cooling coil condensate for flush water supply – a nearly constant source of thousands of gallons of clean water per day. These projects are able to meet nearly 100% of their annual flush water demand through condensate, saving the embodied energy in water treatment and conveyance as well as millions of gallons of potable water per year.

And we really owe our leadership to the people at HOK who bring their brilliance, creativity and diligence to our projects every day. We attract young professionals with a passion for sustainable design, and we cultivate sustainable design expertise in our long-tenured staff. I don’t care what any firm says – sustainable design is a constantly moving target with a bar being set ever higher. It takes every project team member on every project, every single day to make it all work. It doesn’t matter how embedded sustainability is in our culture, it still requires very hard work to make it successful in everything we do.

HOK Director of Science + Technology Bill Odell and Director of Sustainable Design Mary Ann Lazarus

And we are inspired to keep working as hard as we do by outstanding leaders within the firm and the industry: this year Bill Odell and Mary Ann Lazarus were also cited in DesignIntelligence as two of 20 North American leaders serving as role models on issues of sustainability.

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Learn more about HOK’s sustainability and sustainable consulting on the new HOK.com.

  1. July 18th, 2012 - 5:42 pm

    Can you talk about HOK’s zero net energy projects?

  2. July 19th, 2012 - 7:59 am
    David said:

    A key component of sustainability that we often see overlooked is longevity. Would love to know more about how HOK addresses durability. Thanks for the informative post!

  3. July 26th, 2012 - 12:06 pm
    mara.baum said:

    Kris, we’ve got a few in the works but the popular favorite is Project Haiti, a new orphanage being designed in Port au Prince in partnership with USGBC – see http://hoklife.com/2012/01/12/a-model-for-a-new-emergent-approach-to-building-in-haiti/

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