When you think of green building, chances are utilities aren’t the first client that comes to mind. However, with the help of Philadelphia- based Re:Vision Architecture, Pennsylvania’s largest electric and natural gas utility, PECO, installed a 45,000-square-foot vegetated green roof on its headquarters in central Philadelphia.
The largest in urban Pennsylvania, the roof soaks up more than 1.5 million gallons of rainwater runoff annually, reduces air temperatures in the summer and provides a habitat for wildlife. Through this partnership, RVA brings green building to a truly mainstream client.
“For us, it’s about removing barriers to green building,” says Principal Scott Kelly.
At RVA, the architects’ job description goes beyond traditional responsibilities to include sustainability consulting, education and even project fundraising. RVA’s immersion approach, often including a community-based Green Design Charrette to kick off a project, means that every employee is a director of sustainability, every project an opportunity to inspire and educate other businesses to adopt its triple bottom line approach. The entire project is a collaborative process, exposing everyone, from the client to the contractor, to a new way to work. “All of the team members learn so much and are so much more knowledgeable about how to make more sustainable decisions on behalf of the project and beyond,” Principal Jenn Rezeli explains.
RVA distinguishes itself even among other firms with green buildings in their portfolio. For example: more than 50 percent of RVA projects meet the Architecture 2030 Challenge; more than fifty percent of its projects are built on brownfields or infill sites; more than 25 percent of its projects exceed local storm water management codes by at least 40 percent; and more than sixty percent of its suppliers are local; and, not surprisingly, more than 75 percent of its staff are LEED Accredited Professionals.
RVA has gone well beyond Green Building 101, and by acting as teachers, as well as architects, the firm helps ensure that its sustainable buildings become occupied by sustainable businesses, too.
Photo credit: PECO