Since our founding in 1987, Wheeler Kearns Architects has sought to design and build projects that engage, elevate, and house community. We aspire to building projects that are loved, nurtured, and hence sustained; to use our collective energies and resources wisely. We believe that societies across the globe are experiencing a shift in attitude from one merely concerned with surviving on earth to one concerned with changing how we live so that the earth can survive. We embrace this shift and seek to enhance the impact of sustainable design and development as a basic tenet of our practice. Rather than diminishing in meaning, the ideas of sustainability have the potential and power to enrich and broaden our culture as well as our architectural language. WKA is committed to conserving the environment and making intelligent use of our natural and cultural resources. In accordance with this commitment, our firm pledges to strive to meet 2030 standards.
Steps we are currently taking as part of this pledge include:
- – Integrated Design Process: All team members are encouraged to develop skills related to sustainability and the integration of sustainable principles into the design process.
- – Sustainable Certification Accreditations: 26% of our employees are LEED accredited. Our goal is to increase LEED and other accreditations to 50% by 2025. We encourage staff to develop a diversity of accreditations using other rating systems.
- – The WKA “Green Team”: Responsible for accessing, strategizing and implementing sustainable strategies into all aspects of the design process and office operations.
- – Energy Efficient Equipment Office Standards: Mandatory computer shutdown, energy efficient monitor/printer settings, and reminder stickers on switches.
- – Sustainable Consumer Goods: A pre-approved list of office supplies that emphasizes products made of recycled material, post-consumer content, and employ environmentally safe processes.
- Sustainable Operations to Implement “Green” Office Signage: Recycling tips, reminders, and 2030 goals posted in key locations around the office.
- – Sample/Materials Recycling System: Creation of a policy/protocol for unwanted or unused material samples and proper recycling.
- Participation in sustainability events: Encourage more participation in annual events such as Green Apple Day of Service, and Active Transportation Alliance Bike-to-work week.
- – Renovation and Expansion projects: Office renovations and expansion projects are committed to using sustainable materials including: cork floor, Interface Carpet Tiles made of recycled content, and Low VOC Benjamin Moore paints. Our recent (2019) expansion added more space dedicated to material investigation, allowing us to better understand new material opportunities to reduce waste and sequester carbon.
- – Energy Modeling: Use digital tools such as Grasshopper, Rhino, Revit, IES VE, EC3 and Wufi to test our initial assumptions against more specific parameters.
- – Collaborative Process: We engage consultants such as mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineers early to further evaluate the performance of the building and consider applicability of passive and renewable strategies. We also often work with the general contractor early on to understand any upfront cost increases for these systems versus traditional methods of construction to find good value for good practices.
- – Follow Up: Through blower door tests, occupant comfort surveys, and utility measurements among other related testing, we investigate the efficacy of our assumptions to improve our future projects on the path to 2030.
Wheeler Kearns Architects has been a member of the U.S. Green Building Council since May 2002. Our projects have achieved LEED-Certified, LEED-Silver, and LEED-Gold.
- Completed LEED Projects:
– The Alice at Goodman Theatre, LEED Silver 2018
- – UChicago Child Development Center, LEED Gold 2013
- – Inspiration Kitchens, LEED Gold 2012
- – Exelon Gymnasium, LEED Gold 2012
- – Chicago Children’s Theatre, LEED Gold 2017
- – Milwaukee-Belden TOD, LEED Certified 2017
- – Mansueto High School, pending LEED certification
WKA’s 2030 Commitment can be viewed here.