Apr 29, 2013
BY:
THEME: Sustainability

Perkins+Will Celebrates Earth Day

Every Earth Day, employees across Perkins+Will take time to celebrate our commitment to sustainability and to reflect on how we could further improve our impact on the planet. If you didn’t already know:

  • Perkins+Will is carbon neutral, which includes actively reducing our carbon emissions through green operations;
  • We currently have 212 LEED certified projects, and many more projects are currently registered and pending certification;
  • Our master specification for all Perkins+Will projects incorporates LEED’s low emitting material requirements for VOCs, which means every project achieves those thresholds, whether the team is pursuing LEED certification or not.

Beyond the efforts of the firm, we are also a community of individuals that cares deeply for the environment. Kathy Wardle, a director of research based in Vancouver, notes that “Earth Day is an opportunity for each of us to reflect and commit to a few small changes in your office, on your projects, or even at home.” She recommends the following small but significant steps for making a more positive impact:

  • When you’re not using them, turn off of your desk lamps, computer, and other electronics;
  • Have a proactive dialogue with your clients, colleagues, friends, and family about choosing products that are healthier for the planet and its people – whether it’s reusable Tupperware or commercial floor coverings;
  • Buy local and seasonal foods;
  • Take alternative and shared forms of transportation.

For some more ideas on how to “make every day Earth Day” (as our San Francisco office puts it), take a look at how we honored the planet this past week:

1. WE GOT IN TOUCH WITH NATURE

Last week’s activities “reconnected us to the basic elements of nature,” says Angela Shouppe, an executive assistant and communications guru in the Washington DC office. “We got our hands in the soil, planting an herb garden for our café that brings a bit of nature inside our space.”

Our employees in Washington DC also toured their office building’s green roof, learning about the impact it has on the building’s performance and also on the local ecosystem.

Farther north in Boston, senior project architect Deborah Rivers was attending the opening of the newSpaulding Rehabilitation Hospital when she noticed a Cormorant nest in a bed of flowers. Despite all the excitement surrounding the opening, Deborah took a moment to appreciate the juxtaposition of these two refuges of such dramatically different scales.

Patric LeBeau and Mark Paskanik, a project architect and senior project architect from our Research Triangle Park office, also spent some time connecting with nature this week. As part of a local elementary school’s celebration of Earth Day, the two assisted with the building of a butterfly house. Each 2nd grade student received a caterpillar that day, which will hopefully lead to a house filled with beautiful Painted Lady butterflies within the next few weeks.

Along those lines, Russell Philstrom, an architect in our Minneapolis office, says that Earth Day is a chance for “reacquainting myself with Mother Nature. This day reminds me to take pause, be still, and appreciate that the Earth is filled with beauty and wonderment everywhere.”

2. WE ADVOCATED FOR THE PLANET

Back in Boston, a team created a slideshow that outlined several ways to minimize negative environmental impact on our climate, and then uploaded it to the 24 general-use elevators of their 33-floor office building. As the 19th tallest building in Boston, the building provided quite an audience!

Recognizing that we can all always learn more about our environmental impact, the Charlotte office focused their advocacy internally on Perkins+Will employees by hosting a lunch presentation about the 2030 Challenge. Learn more about this transformative challenge, and how we’re helping others approach it, at 2030e2.perkinswill.com

3. WE COMMITTED TO CHANGING OUR ROUTINES

Shannon Gedey, a designer and IPD coordinator in our Chicago office, rallied her colleagues to participate in the  2013 Earth Day Rideshare, a competition between corporate teams across the city to see who could log the most shared commutes. At the time of writing, Perkins+Will employees had officially diverted over 67 pounds of greenhouse gasses through car- and van-sharing.

For one of her recent projects in Dallas, interior designer Mary Dickinson was faced with the challenge of “breaking the stigma that sustainability and luxury cannot be delivered in tandem.” Her big takeaway? “Most of the time, it was just about making well-informed decisions.” Learn more about the process, and get Mary’s tips on making your own home greener, onDHome.

Our Chicago office also collected e-waste as part of an Earth Day recycling event. Organized by Annette Tortorige, a marketing coordinator, the event also included a raffle for anyone who brought in in e-waste; appropriately, one of the prizes was a discount at a local electronics store. While we’re on the topic, be sure to check out this other e-waste initiative by our Houston office.

Back on the east coast, Rachel Casanova, a senior strategic planning consultant in our New York office, noted that “Earth Day is a good excuse to think about what my family and I can do that might seem a little inconvenient, but can become a new, healthy, and responsible thing to do to make an impact.”

As our week-long celebration of the Earth came to a close, Jon Penndorf, a project manager in our Washington DC office, offered some final thoughts: “It’s important to remember that everything we do has an impact on the earth. Earth Day is a way to remind ourselves of that. While we as architects and interior designers regularly shape the built environment, we as passengers on this planet also make choices every day that impact its health.”

Learn more about Perkins+Will’s commitment to the earth, and the related approaches we take in our work, at perkinswill.com

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