Q: What is the integrative design process for buildings?
A: Integrative design combines long-range thinking with collaborative, iterative planning to design the most sustainable building solutions. Follow-up evaluation determines how the initial goals were actually achieved in terms of building performance and occupant satisfaction. IDP requires that anyone who can design a better building is involved early and fairly in planning a building. Continuous improvement in the plans during an iterative design process usually results in more energy efficient, healthy and well-organized buildings.

Q: What is a charrette?
A: A charrette is a brainstorming session that lasts (usually) from one to three days. Charrettes are part of integrative design and gather together clients, building experts, (future) building users and even neighbors if necessary. During the charrette, engineers, contractors, architects, building users and the owner sit down together and solve problems before they become major problems that can hold up construction.

Q: How does ISG define sustainable buildings?
A: ISG uses a very specific definition of sustainability, a concept that is very “slippery”. For us, sustainability refers to buildings created through collaborative design that are resource-efficient, durable, healthy, resilient in the face of environmental change, and functionally smart. In addition, a building designed and built to be sustainable results in occupant satisfaction on multiple measures (i.e. energy and water performance metrics plus usability and occupant comfort). Finally, sustainable buildings fit into their social and ecological systems, enriching their surroundings while causing minimal harm.

Q: What is resilience?
A: For ISG, resilience refers to the ability of both a building and its occupants to thrive in the face of climate change. For example, a resilient building and occupants are not damaged by extreme heat or cold, nor do they need to fear severe rain events, flooding or ice storms. A resilient building is durable and designed to withstand current and projected weather events along with associated power interruptions.

Q: Why don’t we call it “green building” at ISG?
A:  The terms “green” and “green building” have been misused to the point where they are almost meaningless and nobody trusts them. For ISG, integrative environmental design leads to high-performing buildings and sustainable neighborhoods.