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Green: Perkins+Will

The greenest firm in the land, for the second year running.

Robin Guenther

Robin Guenther

Credit: Joe Pugliese

For the second year running, Perkins+Will has earned the Architect 50’s top slot for sustainable practices. When you look at the numbers, it’s easy to see why. The firm—which moved from the fifth overall place last year to second this year—can claim 72 LEED-certified projects. Of its own 20 North American offices, eight are certified at LEED Silver or higher, and three more have LEED certification pending. More than 60 percent of Perkins+Will’s 1,500 employees are LEED accredited.

Principal Robin Guenther, a sustainable healthcare design expert, says the firm achieves such high green performance because sustainability is inculcated into the very fiber of the firm. “We have a strategic plan that we started in 2004. It covers everything from measurable objectives to our own green operation and carbon emissions,” Guenther says.

This initiative is advanced by designated leaders in each office who help green both their own workplaces and client projects. A healthy competition has grown as staff try to make their office the most energy-efficient, Guenther says. “More employees bike to work. Many do composting. The culture of sustainability really permeates everything we do.”

With revenues of $405 million last year, Perkins+Will has the muscle to impact the green building market. At Greenbuild 2009, the firm released a list of 25 noxious chemicals commonly found in buildings and named alternatives that it is substituting in its specifications. The list was posted on its website. “As a large firm specifying billions of dollars of materials, we have an obligation to drive the market to healthier [ones],” Guenther says.

Peter Busby, a principal and managing director of the Vancouver, B.C., office (Busby Perkins+Will), says the firm will not rest on its recent laurels—and there are many, including a 2009 AIA/COTE Top Ten nod and being the first multioffice firm to commit to the 2030 Challenge. The goal is to move beyond energy neutrality for individual buildings. “We’re looking at the regenerative building that actually benefits ecological systems,” Busby says. “We’re pretty confident that we can produce an extremely advanced green building, and what’s even more exciting is what we can do when we look at entire community systems.”


Top 10: Green

1. Perkins+Will
Chicago
% LEED projects: 80–90; % LEED APs: 60–79; Green culture rating: 6 (out of 6)

2. EYP Architecture & Engineering
Albany, N.Y.
% LEED projects: 60–79; % LEED APs: 60–79; Green culture: 6

3. Sera Architects
Portland, Ore.
LEED projects: 60–79; % LEED APs: 60–79; Green culture: 6

4. PGAL
Houston
% LEED projects: 80–90; % LEED APs: 60–79; Green culture: 5

5. Cook+Fox 
New York 
% LEED projects: 80–90; % LEED APs: 60–79; Green culture: 5

6. HOK
St. Louis
% LEED projects: 40–59; % LEED APs: 60–79; Green culture: 6

7. FXFOWLE
New York
% LEED projects: 60–79; % LEED APs: 80–99; Green culture: 5

8. Anshen + Allen
San Francisco
% LEED projects: 80–90; % LEED APs: 40–59; Green culture: 5

9. DLR Group
Omaha, Neb.
% LEED projects: 40–59; % LEED APs: 40–59; Green culture: 6

10. ZGF Architects
Portland, Ore.
% LEED projects: 40–59; % LEED APs: 40–59; Green culture: 6

 


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