Studio St.Germain, a Sewickley-based architectural firm specializing in ultra-low energy building design, has announced the launch of a new owner-facing initiative designed to improve clients’ understanding of the many options in high-performance building design and technology.
The studio’s High Performance Program is an initiative that assesses building owners’ knowledge, readiness, and orientation to the multitude of sustainability programs available today, and then presents them with a personalized plan of action.
“Most people, when they hear the word ‘sustainability’, think of things like LEED, or expensive certification programs,” says Principal Nathan St.Germain. “It’s so much more varied and nuanced than that. There are many ways to accomplish sustainability goals, often much more affordably than people realize. It doesn’t have to be about checking boxes on a list or obtaining an expensive certificate. Sometimes it’s just a matter of better design.”
The Studio specializes in a particular sustainability program known as Passive House, named for the Passivhaus criteria developed in Darmstadt, Germany in the early ‘90’s and later adopted by the international building community. Boasting the strictest technical standards for building sustainability relating to energy use and air quality, Passive House relies on building science principles for solar design, continuous insulation, airtight construction, and continuous ventilation to lower energy use and create indoor environments with superior indoor air quality and comfort.
Although the program uses the word “house”, Passive House is not exclusive to residences and is frequently used in commercial buildings and institutional settings such as schools and offices. Passive House is relatively new to the United States, gaining traction only in the last 10 years, making Studio St.Germain’s expertise relatively unique in Western Pennsylvania.
Passive House is just one of ten formal sustainability programs that building owners can choose from. “Most of our clients aren’t aware how many options there are, or that sometimes the best choice is not a formal certification program at all, but rather a set of design principles and building technology that results in the closest match to their goals,” added St.Germain.
The High Performance program features a brief intake process that allows the Studio’s principals to quickly and seamlessly assess which programs or building science techniques match up best with a client’s profile, after which personalized recommendations are presented.
“We are finding tremendous interest in the program and even a sense of relief from clients,” said St.Germain. “We’re very proud to be part of the movement to take the mystery out of sustainability and make it more accessible to everyone.”
More information about the program and an explanatory video are available at: studiostgermain.com/high-performance.