Roy Rountree
Principal and President
Bettisworth North
Fairbanks, Alaska

The high cost of energy in our state is driving the need for high-performance buildings that can sustain long-term operations. The Alaska Housing Finance Corporation recently completed an energy audit on statewide public buildings, which has created a benchmark for efficient facilities. Efficiency in this context also includes analyzing overall building usage, right-sizing the program, combining facilities and designing flexible spaces that work hard for users. In response, clients are setting energy performance standards for their facilities. We’ve found that the client’s collaboration on energy and sustainability initiatives makes these projects most successful. We started an in-house energy group that is researching and developing energy and sustainability design opportunities for our clients. We are taking what we learn from designing in Fairbanks, which experiences a 140-degree temperature change throughout the year, and helping clients apply the appropriate energy efficiency practices statewide. 

J. Todd Robinson
Principal/Senior Designer
Earl Swensson Associates, Inc.
Nashville, Tenn.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has a major influence on what is being built today. Notable responses to the evolving healthscape are shifts toward wellness and ambulatory care with a more human-centered focus. Integral to these shifts are physician and services integration, as well as streamlined processes following lean concepts. Freestanding emergency departments are widely emerging as standalone EDs, urgent care centers and placeholders for future full-service health care centers. Surgery and cancer centers, as well as the primary care delivery model utilizing flexibility and collaboration, are now proliferating across the country as solutions for reducing duplication and cost. Another trend gaining traction is incorporating modular spaces or offsite modular environments, including patient rooms, workspaces and pharmacies. Modular components are becoming more viable as construction costs increase, and they have the flexibility to be added to a facility or relocated intact after a period of years. 

Bruce Garner
Managing Principal
SGS Architects Engineers, Inc.
Carlisle, Pa.

In working with our nonprofit clients, we are experiencing an increase in the time between initial design and authorization to proceed to the document phase and then to actual construction. This delay is typically a result of needing more time to finalize project funding. We are now actively assisting in fundraising efforts and the preparation of grant applications. Our clients also are increasingly aware of LEED and energy conservation. They want to know how LEED can improve their project, as well as what costs are associated with registration, documentation and enhanced commissioning. The life cycle impact of a building designed to meet LEED requirements versus the initial costs is a difficult decision for some clients to make. More clients are opting for a project designed with energy conservation features that translate into short-term paybacks, but are not as concerned about recycled content or energy expended in manufacturing or transportation. Life cycle cost analysis is expected to be part of our basic services.