As JacobsWyper’s firm-wide Sustainability Coordinator, Chris Lee, LEED AP BD+C orchestrates the integration of sustainable-focused design into the office’s research and practice. Chris joined JWA in May 2016, bringing a deep knowledge of architecture and product benchmark systems, passion for materials research and wide involvement in activities and groups within the Philadelphia design community. Continue reading to learn more about how Chris is reshaping and energizing the sustainable discourse within our firm.
How does sustainability fit into the firm’s workflow?
Sustainability has different meanings to different organizations. We try to engage our clients at the start of each project to understand their sustainability goals as well as their project requirements. Whether the target is energy efficiency, occupant health, water conservation, site stewardship, or a sustainability benchmark like LEED, the Living Building Challenge, or the WELL Building Standard, our objective with each project is to find the right balance between initial costs, life cycle and sustainable design.
What new sustainable practices/workflow enhancements have you brought or will you bring to JacobsWyper in your role as Sustainability Coordinator?
Two initiatives I’m very excited about are the Living Product Challenge and the JacobsWyper Preferred Products Library. The Living Product Challenge (LPC) is a certification program with the same framework as the Living Building Challenge, except that the Living Product Challenge targets manufactured goods and products. It is a holistic standard created to synthesize multi-attribute data into a unified tool for responsible material creation and selection, with seven performance areas, known as “Petals”, that include energy, water, and materials, to name a few. With JWA’s experience in the manufacturing sector, I think we are well-positioned to help manufacturers change the way they make their products for the better.
The goal of JWA’s in-house Preferred Products Library is to assemble a set of products with sustainable attributes that can be specified for any project (regardless of the client’s sustainability goals), allowing our team to make quicker and easier sustainable material selections. A committee of staff members from various sectors of the office are currently working to form the baseline group of products for the library.
How are you involved in the sustainability community outside of JacobsWyper?
Outside of JWA, I am an adjunct professor at Jefferson University, where I teach a course entitled Sustainable Technologies for Architecture. I enjoy teaching because it allows me to share my passion for sustainability with our next generation of designers. I am also a member of the Leadership and Education Team for the Green Building United (formerly DVGBC) Living Building Challenge Community and sit on the Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) Materials and Waste Subcommittee. Volunteering for Green Building United gives me the opportunity to work with like-minded professionals to help shape the discussion around Living Building Challenge in our region and develop high-quality education events to keep our local community current. My involvement on the CHPS subcommittee allows me to contribute to the development and refinement of a sustainable rating system that focuses on sustainable and high-performance schools.
In 2017, I was involved in three great presentations focused on sustainable design and product development. The first was a session called “Net Positive Impacts and Sustainable Materials” at the Green Building United Sustainability Symposium, held this past May at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. I served as the event moderator for the presentation, which included representatives from Humanscale, the International Living Future Institute, and The Sheward Partnership. This October, I was a speaker at the 2017 Living Product Expo in Pittsburgh during the “Healthy Products for Everyone Summit”, a workshop exploring the materials implementation process from all sides, ranging from selection, specification and installation to manufacturing and marketing the product. I also organized “Minimizing Footprints Through Handprinting: Success Stories from Certified Manufacturers”, a presentation showing how the Living Product Challenge changed the way in which Owens Corning and Humanscale products are made and how it changed the way these companies do business.
How does your involvement in outside organizations help shape sustainable discourse within the office?
Being involved in the local community and participating in and attending conferences about sustainable building and product design helps me to identify innovative thinking about design and planning that is applicable to our work. Bringing these forward-thinking ideas back to the office evolves our own internal discussion about the most relevant and effective sustainable strategies for our projects. It also allows me to create relationships with other high-quality firms and companies to assemble the best possible design teams for our clients.
I’m looking forward to talking with our clients and partners about how we can incorporate sustainable strategies into their work, especially our manufacturing clients. The way we make things is changing, due in part to rising product and building certifications requirements but also innovative manufacturers responding to the demand for the industry. A healthy material economy is beginning to take shape and we want to help see it grow.