Long before LEED and discussions about Net Zero Energy buildings, Payette’s seminal work committed to minimizing our environmental footprint. This defined a culture heavily focused on energy issues and led our firm to be one of the early signatories of the AIA’s 2030 Commitment. In keeping with this, all of our projects begin with a minimum target of LEED Silver certifiable, regardless of an individual client’s intent to seek certification.

These policies do little, however, to define our approach to sustainability. At Payette, building performance analysis is integrated into our core design process and requires we see the bigger picture. Ultimately our task is to find the agenda that fits each client’s values and then optimize corresponding systems and strategies with data-driven justification.

Sustainable thinking starts with understanding a building’s environmental impact and energy is invariably at the heart of all our discussions. However, we don’t focus exclusively on Energy Use Intensity (EUI). We consider embodied as well as operational energy and are less interested in the latest ‘green gizmo’ than we are in smart decisions with simple, but real impact.

Using the in-house technologies of our Building Science Group, we thoroughly test the impact of the design options we consider and establish which initiatives will truly benefit each project: this is our primary sustainability goal and is a matter of course in all our work.

Our experience tells us that strategies with the most impact are those embedded from the start. Guided by our Sustainability Action Plan, we implement a rigorous exploration process to identify sustainability goals and define responding initiatives concurrent with the earliest programming and planning activities.

Working with our broad team of Building Scientists, Planners, 3-D Visualizers, Landscape Architects and Interior Designers, our in-house simulation capabilities give us the tools to quantifiably analyze the implications of our ideas in real-time.

Using quick ‘shoe box’ energy models of typical portions of the building, for example, we are able to nimbly evaluate and adjust the energy impact and life-cycle costs of multiple façade designs, daylighting, ventilation and operational energy strategies. These early models are used by our teams to quickly and iteratively inform and evolve the design. Because we maintain this capability in-house, we avoid the functional and temporal disconnect that comes from working with external specialists early in the design process.