Robin Greenleaf, PE, LEED AP
Sustainability Practice Leader
At AEI, we like a challenge. Our first real resiliency project was a 1.5M SF replacement hospital for the Veteran’s Administration in New Orleans. The destruction from Hurricane Katrina was so devastating, the existing VA hospital could no longer operate. A new building was designed and constructed on a nearby site with one overarching project goal: resiliency.
AEI’s participation involved plumbing and medical gas design. We learned valuable lessons from our work on this project. What initially seemed like an unreasonable requirement (to shelter-in-place 1,000 residents for a period of five days with no access to city utilities) turned into a methodology that informs everything we now do. At every decision point, we asked ‘can this solution protect against a category 4 or 5 storm?’
After Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, the sobering truth for many of our clients was that their facilities were equally susceptible and needed attention both in the long and short term. Having recognized weaknesses in their systems, we work with them to think through what they need to do to achieve resiliency, and at project completion we check to make sure we’ve achieved those goals.
Not every project needs the same level of protection and we apply discretion and sound engineering practices to construct the best solution for the situation in hand. We recognize resiliency is a process, and we work with our clients to explore what’s necessary to protect their assets.
We fold sustainability into every project we design as a foundational standard intrinsic to our culture. By maximizing energy efficiency and minimizing demand on resources we not only protect our client’s assets, we also help lessen the demand on our natural resources while operating more efficiently and conscientiously.
We begin every kick-off meeting with a discussion on sustainability, from what scoring system will be used to what the efficiency goals of the project will be. We discuss the implications of available sustainable options with our stakeholders and then integrate those decisions into a high performing building.
All AEI principals are LEED accredited, with additional LEED staff in each discipline. Principal Nick Ferzacca, in particular, is a sustainable design specialist who served as a vice chair of the ASHRAE SPC 189 Committee responsible for high performance green building standards. We strive to make environmental responsiveness, resource efficiency, occupant comfort and community sensitivity the pillars of our practice and are proud to report that most of the projects in our online portfolio have achieved LEED Silver Plus ratings or higher.
We fully embrace the principles of sustainable design and consider it a privilege to help our clients meet their project goals.