Sustainable Design: 1980s Style

Reagan Gorbachev Time Magazine CoverDid you know that LPA has been practicing sustainable design since the 1980s? It’s a fact that our firm is incredibly proud of. We’ve been doing “green” since before it was a movement or a trend. Think about where you were and what you were doing in 1987. Was sustainability on your radar? It was on ours—1987 is the year that:

  • President Ronald Reagan challenges Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall
  • Microsoft releases Windows 2.0
  • American Motors is acquired by Chrysler
  • Aretha Franklin becomes the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
  • Disney CEO Michael Eisner signs contracts to build Euro Disney (now Disneyland Paris)
  • The Simpsons first appear as a series of shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show
  • Michael Jackson releases his hit album Bad
  • And LPA designs the Headquarters for the Irvine Ranch Water District (IRWD), our first “official” environmentally sensitive building

The headquarters, located in Irvine, Calif., features passive solar control systems—at least a decade before their time, water efficient landscaping, energy sensitive mechanical and electrical systems, and use of “weatherable” building materials, showcasing Sustainable Design Principle #6: Build Smart.

“The idea was to design a building that would look better with age,” said LPA President Dan Heinfeld. “This approach requires less maintenance and upkeep when compared to a typical office building, and is also, more energy efficient.”

Irvine Ranch Water District Sustainable Design 1980sThe IRWD headquarters benchmarks LPA’s work in sustainable and energy efficient design. After the project’s completion, it received third party validation of its performance, through an Edison Energy Efficiency award.

The district recently celebrated its 50th Anniversary.

The nationally recognized program features almost 5,000 recycled water connections, more than 400 miles of recycled water pipeline, and the first dual-plumbed commercial building in California, which supplies recycled water to more than 45 commercial buildings. The talented professionals at IRWD have come up with a diversity of uses for recycled water (e.g., toilet and urinal flushing in schools, composting, carpet dyeing, cooling towers and concrete batching).

Missed the celebration? Enjoy IRWD videos and news coverage, at these links. Visitors celebrated the big 5-0 by learning about area history, making rain sticks, participating in water challenge games, touring the Water Quality Lab, watching water tapping demonstrations and having questions answered about all things IRWD.

Both IRWD and LPA have come a long way since the 1980s. It’s exciting to think how much further ahead we’ll be in, say, another 15 years! Images courtesy: and LPA Inc.