Earth Day 2014: Green Tips from Our Green Designers

Did you know Earth Day, a global event celebrated each year on April 22, started here in the U.S. in 1970? This year marks its 44th anniversary, with more than 10,000 Earth Day events being held worldwide. (Mother Nature is even doing her part to help celebrate this year - the annual Lyrid meteor shower will peak in the early hours of Earth Day but will be visible most of the week. With a possible 10-20 meteors an hour, this year Earth Night could be as exciting as Earth Day.)


As we celebrate Earth Day, we are reminded of the words of primatologist Jane Goodall: “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”


In honor of Earth Day, enjoy a few “green tips” from KAI’s LEED accredited staff members – our sustainable design specialists. These are the folks that help make KAI’s building designs as “green” as possible, even when clients aren’t pursuing LEED certification for their facility.


Tips for the homeowner


Tip #1 from Erin Muller, AIA, LEED AP – Project Architect

Start a backyard compost pile.  This is a great way to reuse most of your garden and kitchen waste while getting additional benefits. Compost is a great material for garden and landscaping soil.  It is especially ideal for clay soils which are found all over St. Louis as the nutrient-rich humus improves the workability of the clay.  By adding organic matter to any soil, compost can help improve plant growth and health.


Composting can also save money you would otherwise spend on soil conditioners and fertilizer. And, it is a good way to recycle leaves and other yard waste instead of paying to have it hauled off.  In turn this is a time saver, too, since it gives you a place to dispose of grass clippings, weeds, and other garden debris as well as diverting your kitchen scraps from the landfill.


Tip #2 from John D’Agostino, LEED AP – Project Architect

Installing a rain barrel can save money on your water bill, but more importantly it helps reduce storm runoff, which picks up fertilizer, pesticides and other runoff pollutants that then find their way into local creeks and rivers.


Tips for green building projects


Tip #3 from Pamela Todd, RCID, LEED AP – Senior Interior Designer

I would encourage any project being designed for LEED certification to start early in the process so that LEED elements are considered from the very beginning. This is especially true for design-build projects. Some elements that help achieve LEED points can add to the project cost, so they must be considered upfront, and even included in the RFP where appropriate. Other elements, such as Green Power, should be researched early to make sure the option is available, should the facility owner request it. 


Tip #4 from Michael Voit, AIA, LEED AP BD+C – Director of Architecture

Consider every project to be an opportunity for the design professional to lead the conversation about sustainability with the client, the stakeholders, and others on the project team.  Be a champion for sustainable design and look for ways to incorporate such ideas and concepts from the very beginning of a project - not as an afterthought.


For more information on KAI’s LEED certified projects, click here.