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School Construction News: Design in Dialogue

For this year’s architect roundtable, School Construction News spoke with three women who are leaders in the industry: Pam Loeffelman, K-12 education leader at DLR Group; Lisa Fay Matthiessen, national sustainable design director at HGA Architects and Engineers; and Tracy Carusi, principal at Collins Cooper Carusi Architects. Each offered cogent answers to questions we hoped would spark a spirited discussion about design and its place in the experience of those who both shape it and encounter it in real life.

Q: Baking sustainability into design for education seems to be par for the course these days — or is it? How does this mindset inform aesthetic decisions in design? Is there such a thing as “green fatigue?”

Matthiessen: Sustainability is not par for the course in design for education, not in the full sense of the word. Much or most of the market is aware of and using metrics to measure sustainability—usually LEED. The use of LEED has indeed made sustainability a topic or priority for many clients and designers, but sustainability is not a finite topic. It’s not something that you learn how to do and then you are done. We have reached a level of awareness and competence around sustainability, and now there are many more levels to explore and boundaries to push. With LEED Silver being the norm now, we see schools reaching for net-zero energy. Other emerging priorities include water use, designing for human health and social equity. So yes, sustainability is a familiar topic now, but the more we know, the more we have to explore.

Read the complete architect roundtable in School Construction News.