In design, THA believes that architecture is best when it is an honest expression of the people and institutions it serves.
In the same way, THA supports a sustainable approach with its building projects and believes that the firm itself must also demonstrate these beliefs in daily office life and practices. This is not always easy.
We have decided in the last couple of years to calculate our carbon footprint and take steps toward reducing it each year so the firm does not need to buy offsets and be truly carbon-balanced. We may never be carbon-neutral, but the closer we get the more we learn. Being in an existing building (a historic one at that) makes it particularly challenging to bring about significant change in systems.
At this point changing infrastructure may not make sense for us; for instance, though we own our building, the footprint and location does not necessarily lend itself to a PV array that will make a significant difference. So we decided we needed to look at changing our behavior to reduce: change the thermostat settings, replace the toilet’s flush valve with a dual flush, stop the weekly trips to Costco to buy soda for the office. Some measures have worked better than others; the retrofit dual flush valve is too noisy, for example. But despite the failure we have learned something in the process, become more aware of the issues and also know that in our next adaptive reuse project that there might be problems in retrofitting an existing flush valve.
This has been a learning experience for us and one that we feel will help inform our work. After all if we have lived through the changes and learned from them, we can truly walk our talk.