In honor of Earth Day, WDA’s Sustainability Strategic Initiative Group turns the spotlight to the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program, which recognizes professionals who consider in-depth the impact of their buildings on people and the planet. Our WDA team includes 4 LEED-accredited architects, and we recently completed one LEED-Gold project for the City and County of San Francisco and are advising construction of another in San Francisco International Airport.

Many progressive environmental protection principles are built into California’s laws, and San Francisco itself is on the forefront of energy conservation and sustainable design. For our City and County of San Francisco’s Central Shops project, converting an industrial building to a light duty repair shop for portions of the City’s vehicle fleet, we worked with consultant Ambient Energy and Construction Manager Oryx Partners to incorporate LEED criteria into the means and methods of construction from the outset of design. Our planning and design process meticulously documented the considerations of features across the LEED checklist, including electric vehicle stations, energy-efficient doors and skylights, storm water drainage swales, interior environmental quality, and separate mechanical zoning. Perhaps our greatest advantage in earning LEED-gold certification was the extent to which the completed renovation repurposed the existing structure—we managed area takeoffs of the roof and floor to receive high point scoring for building reuse.

Beyond LEED-certified projects, consideration of a building’s footprint of the environment is a foundation of WDA’s culture. Within our office, our Sustainablity Group meets regularly, and hosts periodic office wide sustainability charrettes to iterate green solutions to current projects WDA is designing. We’ve even developed an internal office sustainability checklist, based on LEED principals, that we use to assess a wide range of environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient options at the beginning of each new project. Our philosophy is that all architectural design should begin with sustainability in mind.

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