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Sustainability 15: Collaboration

Updated on March 13, 2010
See the flowering of your project
See the flowering of your project

The expression ’It takes a village to raise a child’ can be paraphrased to ‘It takes a team of professionals to raise a sustainable project’. In light of all the knowledge, subtlety, complexity, nuance, and technology a sizable sustainable project may require, it is often best to begin by forming a truly collaborative team of competent experts.

And just what sort of expertise will be required? and from whom? Following are some potential players and their areas of specialized knowledge and skill:

Architects: Architects must be knowledgeable in a great many areas of expertise, for architects are considered the ‘master builders’ insuring the successful completion of all aspects of a project. They typically oversee and coordinate the work of many of the other professionals involved.

Land planners: Land planners can be particularly adept at optimizing the use of land, project layouts, site efficiencies, and the coordination, phasing and cohesion of all site development.

Civil engineers: Typically having specific responsibility for site grading, drainage, utilities, roads, walks, retaining walls, and earthworks, as well as coordination of off-site roadway, utility and earthwork improvements, civil engineers play a key role in determining the overall look, feel and function of a project site.

Structural engineers: These specialists typically design retaining walls, foundations, footings, structural frames, towers, bridges, structural roadways and any other significant load-bearing components of a project.

Building mechanical engineers: A great deal of the comfort, functionality, utility and efficiency of occupied spaces is determined by these engineers, who typically develop all heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, plumbing and potable water systems, fire protection, and building utilities.

Building electrical engineers: Working closely in concert with building mechanical engineers, building electrical engineers are usually responsible for power and lighting systems, daylighting, telecommunications, TV and data cabling, and emergency power and alarm systems.

Space planners and interior designers: Architects are often assisted by these able professionals, who may determine building interior spatial requirements and layouts, fixtures, appliances, furnishings, finishes, colors, and accessories.

In addition to all of the above professionals, highly sophisticated sustainable structures or developments may also require the involvement of still more specialists under the architect’s purview — traffic engineers, environmentalists, arborists, acousticians, hazardous material specialists, urban planners, lighting consultants, sign and graphic designers, artists, muralists, restoration specialists, energy consultants, waste management consultants, power generation specialists, etc.


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