A Grower of Growers

A reflection of how the industry is changing, large M/E/P firms like Detroit's SmithGroup are now bringing on board "Green Gurus." One such thought leader is Russell Perry, AIA, LEED AP, who was hired by the firm just last month to coordinate its sustainable initiatives. Perry noted that building green awareness at a firm often progresses one person at a time.

12/01/2005


A reflection of how the industry is changing, large M/E/P firms like Detroit's SmithGroup are now bringing on board "Green Gurus." One such thought leader is Russell Perry, AIA, LEED AP, who was hired by the firm just last month to coordinate its sustainable initiatives.

Perry noted that building green awareness at a firm often progresses one person at a time. And while many have yet to embrace sustainable design as a company philosophy, most firms have at least someone who has heard the green call. "There can't be a firm on the planet that doesn't have at least some people to do sustainable work," he said. At SmithGroup, Russell hopes to become a "grower of growers" and create a culture that nurtures these people and, as a result, pushes the firm in a sustainable direction.

Part of that culture encourages keeping a critical eye on green processes, including LEED, which Perry acknowledged has helped push sustainability to the forefront, but has also been given plenty of slack. Take bioregionalism, for example. "Why do you get the same points for saving water in Burlington, Vt. as you do in Phoenix?" he queried.

LEED, of course, has had other important impacts on the industry besides freeing people from "toxic boxes." Integrated design is a good example. But it's just a start. When it comes to engineers and sustainable buildings—or any building for that matter—Perry noted that construction projects are split up into too many pieces and they need to be brought back together into an all-for-one model.

"Engineers need to insist on being at the table from day one," he urged. "They should go in expecting to be a full participant the whole time. To reach the goals we want to reach, there has to be an integrated approach."





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