Sustainability & Biophilia Design

As architects, we work for the betterment of the lives of our clients. The houses we create lift the spirit, while addressing our clients’ needs and budget. In addition, we believe that the design and construction of a house, addition, renovation, or retrofit can address the reality of climate change while also encompassing the health and wellbeing of our social and biological communities.

Of course, sustainable design entails building with best practices in order to build authentically durable houses by having future generations in mind. Typically, sustainable design methods entail minimizing the negative environmental impact by building efficiently, including sensible yet moderate use of materials, energy, and space. With the built environment being responsible for 40 percent of global carbon emissions, preserving existing buildings is crucial to meeting our net-zero carbon targets. We can enhance building performance and functionality while sympathetically adapting or adding on to the existing house or barn. Read more about our process here.

Yet a truly sustainable house design is one that is planned and designed to celebrate Biophilia our innate love of nature, life, and living systems. As an architect, I strive to understand what each of my clients loves about life. For most people, the home is where you create memories with your family and friends as you live your daily life. A house exemplifies the term Biophilia when it becomes a place embodying and participating in your love of life. The term itself literally means a love of life or living systems and was first used by Erich Fromm, the early 20th century German social psychologist and humanistic philosopher. Fromm used the term Biophilia to describe our innate psychological orientation to be attracted to all that is alive and vital. As an architect, I believe this innate attraction is embodied in houses that are both livable and integrated with nature.

The term livability can be used to summarize what most clients desire from the full spectrum of what a house consists of and, thus, is more comprehensive than the overly politicized term Sustainability. A truly livable home provides for what the client believes to be essential, including convenient access to shops, services, employment, and cultural resources. In addition, a variety of transportation options (e.g. walking, biking, public transit, etc.) may be optimal. A livable house is nestled within a neighborhood or community and contributes to its sense of place. Within, a livable house provides a place to restore one’s spirit through a variety of activities, including rest, as well as connecting with loved ones and friends.

While all these conditions of livability are somewhat obvious, it is easy to overlook the most obvious and pervasive condition of the house: its setting within nature.

E.O. Wilson uses the term Biophilia to describe our innate love of nature, sunlight and breezes, as well as views of flowers and trees, waterways and sunsets. When an architect is able to couple the unique offerings of each building site with the homeowner’s unique specifications for domestic life, a truly livable home can be said to have been created. As a responsible architect, I make every effort throughout the planning design process to use materials and architectural forms appropriate to particular climate and location on our precious planet. Considering the path of the sun throughout the day and year allows us to explore possibilities of having daylight animate the spaces and thoughtfully harness the heat while avoiding overheating.

Although the relation between architecture and nature has a long and honorable history, over the last three decades, the architecture/nature relationship has wisely increased its focus on environmentally responsible practices described – with great earnestness – using the terms sustainability and sustainable design. As these terms have become so politicized, many architects and designers have wisely embraced the terminology of high-performance buildings to describe those structures designed to conserve energy, materials, water, and land.

I will be sensitive to your budgetary concerns and use state-of-the-art technology throughout the duration of the planning design process. For fifteen years, as a university professor at Virginia Tech and the University of North Carolina in Charlotte and as a guest lecturer at numerous other universities, I taught the principles of high-performance buildings (sustainability), as well as the critical aspect of sustainability known as Biophilic Design. In addition to the conditions of livability addressed above, Biophilic Design includes landscape design and integration.

My planning design services in Dublin, Harrisburg, Keene, Jaffrey, and throughout New Hampshire are complemented by nearly three decades of experience as an architect. Please contact me today to get started on your project.