Designing for Equity in the Built Environment with Victoria Lanteigne

There is a lot of work ahead of us to advance equity in the built environment. As more project teams aim to impact equity, there are overarching questions that need to be answered: What design strategies will advance equity in the built environment? And how do we make equity part of building performance?

In this episode, Alex chats with Victoria Lanteigne, Principal of Research at Steven Winter Associates (SWA), about her expertise in equity, health, and inclusive design. Victoria shares how, through her research, she hopes to build on the way we measure building performance—from outcomes focused on energy and resource efficiency to those that include aspects of human experiences, such as the health, wellbeing, and sense of belonging of all building occupants.


Construction Diaries Part 2: Tips for Young Professionals

As a continuation of our last episode, Construction Diaries: Lessons Learned From SWA’s Inspection & Verification Experts, Dylan gears his questions toward young professionals – specifically, those just starting out in the field or those aspiring to work in the field as a construction inspector or verifier.

Throughout the episode, the group provides some words of wisdom, including how to handle intimidation and animosity in the field, how to maximize time spent traveling from site to site, and more. Lastly, each guest ends the episode by sharing a piece of advice that they wish they had when they started their careers.


Construction Diaries: Lessons Learned From SWA’s Inspection & Verification Experts

One of the main drivers behind a successful building project is third-party inspection and verification. This critical, yet often overlooked, step in the construction process is designed to help buildings achieve a desired quality of performance and can also help save project teams substantial time and money along the way.

That being said, the role of an inspector or verifier is not for the faint of heart. They are often scrutinized and even blamed for “slowing progress” following a construction intervention. In reality, these dedicated professionals are actually looking out for the project’s best interest and save time in the long-run by preventing costly repairs. Without them, building performance and occupant health and comfort could be compromised.

On this episode, we invited three inspection and verification professionals from Steven Winter Associates to shed light on the challenges they face while inspecting construction projects. We learn what they look for when they are on site and how they reach solutions with project teams when standards are not being met. This engaging roundtable discussion is a great reminder of just how valuable a third-party inspector can be.


Practicing What We Preach: Everyday Solutions for Living a Sustainable Lifestyle

We talk a lot about sustainability at a large scale; this typically includes large building projects or grid-level issues, like energy affordability and access to renewables. But how about the small-scale? What type of sustainability initiatives are people passionate about in their everyday lives?

To answer this question, Robb assembled a group of sustainability professionals from Steven Winter Associates and asked them to share some best practices for living a more sustainable lifestyle. Each guest responds with one topic they are passionate about and explains how they turned a common challenge into a sustainable solution.

Here’s the breakdown of topics by guest:

  • Maureen Mahle – Eliminating combustion and going all-electric [0:03:25]
  • Andrea Foss – Water conservation in toilets [0:24:15]
  • Robb Aldrich – Walkability and proximity to transit [0:41:10]
  • Gayathri Vijayakumar – Duct sealing  [0:59:00]


Charlotte’s Web of Building Electrification Strategies …with Charlotte Matthews

It’s not every day we get to interview someone with such a diverse background of project experiences. Whether it was working for an architect, developer, construction manager, or tech startup, our guest for this episode has leveraged her passion and expertise as a sustainability professional to come up with some pretty impressive solutions for buildings.

On this episode, Robb and Kelly chat with Charlotte Matthews, Head of Affordable Electrification at Google. Charlotte reflects on her experience working for different firms as a sustainability professional and shares some of the challenges she faced when attempting to improve the operational efficiency of buildings. Throughout the episode, the group discusses why buildings don’t perform as expected, the importance of benchmarking and normalizing, and the impact of dynamic energy pricing.

This episode marks our first ever video podcast! Check it out on SWA’s YouTube page and let us know what you think.


(ENCORE) ‘All-Access’ with Peter Stratton

First released in 2018, ‘All-Access’ is the perfect episode for those interested in learning more about accessibility compliance, especially as it pertains to building design, construction, and ownership. Before we dive into the original episode, we learn about a new term called “Inclusive Design” and how it differs from “Universal Design”.

There are approximately 57 million Americans living with disabilities in the United States; worldwide, people with disabilities make up 15% of our population. Given this information, we must do our part to ensure that people with disabilities have equal access to opportunities afforded to everyone – starting with equal access to buildings.

This week’s guest is a long-time accessibility expert who serves as the Managing Director of SWA’s Accessibility Services, Peter Stratton. Peter begins the episode with an overview of the existing accessibility requirements in the U.S. and highlights additional measures that should be taken to ensure inclusiveness for all. Join us to learn how we can foster a more accessible built environment through careful design and planning.  (more…)

Building Operations and Training with Jonathan Rodnite and Adam Romano

Ever wonder who is responsible for ensuring the performance of a building? Yes, designers and contractors can have a significant impact during construction, but once the building is complete, it’s the building operators and maintenance staff that have the greatest influence on the operational efficiency of large buildings. As a result, these boots on the ground professionals play a critical role in our fight against climate change.

On this episode, Kelly chats with Jonathan Rodnite and Adam Romano, two engineers who represent two interconnected and vital practices of building operations—maintenance and training. Both Jonathan and Adam share their perspectives on the importance of operator training, provide advice to listeners who may be interested in joining the workforce, and recount their favorite stories from the field.


The Economics of Developing Sustainable Buildings with Christina McPike

If you’re like us, you want to hear from someone who not only talks the talk but walks the walk. Our guest for this episode is the perfect example of this: she has the experience of a developer and the expertise of a sustainability guru – a perspective that is hard to find.

Christina McPike is the Director of Energy and Sustainability at WinnCompanies, a 50-year-old multifamily housing owner, developer, and manager. Christina provides an insightful look into the energy market, and shares the trends, incentives, and opportunities that have stemmed from recent carbon mandates for buildings. She also describes the details of one of Winn’s most ambitious projects – an all-electric deep energy retrofit in Boston – and discusses the programs her team leveraged that made the project economical.


Venting About Ventilation, Heat Pumps, and Net Zero with the Buildings+Beyond Team

Sometimes it’s good to vent. Well, if you ask a Passive House expert, it’s always good to vent. So, that’s exactly what we did for this episode.

Based on popular demand, the Buildings and Beyond team took a more informal approach to this month’s episode and gathered for a roundtable discussion. With a mix of backgrounds and expertise, we came to the table with a different topic and shared our thoughts, findings, and of course, did some venting…

Here are the topics we discussed:

  1. Kelly – Ventilation [3:05]
  2. Robb – Electrifying domestic water heating [18:45]
  3. Dylan – All-electric commercial kitchens [35:00]
  4. Alex – Backup power generation in a zero-carbon world [49:45]


What Should a Degree in Sustainability Look Like? with Patrick Hossay

A degree in sustainability can mean many things. Sure, you can develop a focus, but how does an undergraduate program truly prepare you to become a professional in such a broad and complex topic? To learn more about what an undergraduate degree in sustainability should look like, we looked to Stockton University’s Patrick Hossay.

Patrick was recommended to us by various colleagues of ours who were fortunate enough to go through his sustainability program. Influenced by Patrick’s eclectic background, the program takes an interdisciplinary approach to education, requiring students to master a variety of topics that they may face as future sustainability professionals.

In addition to learning about Stockton’s unique degree program, Patrick and “Buildings and Beyond” host Robb take a trip down memory lane and share their experience as students. They also discuss the value of trades, which Patrick believes is being hampered by the growing belief that everyone “must” go to college.