Sustainable Design Principle #2: Do Less

As mentioned in my previous post, LPA has developed 10 Sustainable Principles that help us think more globally about sustainability and sustainable design. Today's post is about Principle #2: Do Less.

Doing more with less at the Environmental Nature CenterLPA's 10 Principles of Absolute Design

  1. Inter + Act
  2. Do Less
  3. Challenge Convention
  4. Zoom Out
  5. Zoom In
  6. Build Smart
  7. Enrich Lives
  8. Create Value
  9. Prove It
  10. Step Up

"Doing less" is an important concept because many of the best practices for sustainability have nothing to do with earning points on the LEED scorecard. Conservation is vital to sustainable design. It helps us minimize our footprint on the environment, protect natural resources, reduce our energy and water consumption, and it encourages design that does more with less.

The Environmental Nature Center in Newport Beach is a great example of doing less. As you can see in the photograph, we exposed the structure and negated the use of a finished material—a very sustainable decision. We've done many projects where we actually chose a particular structural framing system because it reduced the floor-to-floor. Although this saves material and is a very sustainable practice, you don't get any LEED points for doing so.

Doing less also saves money by finding and using what is free—or what we like to call the "gifts of the site." We often use the sun to provide solar energy and interior daylighting, and incorporate existing landscapes into the overall scheme. Thoughtful building orientation can maximize the use of prevailing breezes to support natural ventilation. Each and every one of these techniques is applied at the Environmental Nature Center and play a major role in its LEED Platinum Certification.