CMPBS pursues building design in a manner consistent with our eco-balance and life cycle design approaches, using an open-building system typology. The objective is to balance space use and the associated resource use internal to a building with the external land area required to maintain equilibrium between life cycle stages. Balancing strategies include energy generated by renewable energy sources, water requirements fulfilled by on-site rain- and wastewater harvesting, wastewater processing managed by on-site treatment systems, material use fulfilled by material reuse, and air intake matched by the landscape’s ability to regenerate air.
Both indigenous and industrial by-product materials and methods are brought together in a building aesthetic that represents a region’s resource flows. Flexibility is inherent to the design process, in which structural elements function as armature for changeable, creative space use and reuse.
Design services are provided for private and public sector clients when their projects introduce opportunities to extend the boundaries of the state-of-the-art in one or more areas. In addition, we collabore with national demonstration projects, joining an interdisciplinary design team with a shared vision of establishing measurable benchmarks for environmental and human health, along with economic performance, in a demonstration context. [back to top]
The Center’s master planning approach is based on the principle of eco-balance: the sourcing of any commodity must account for its sustainable re-sourcing. For example, air, water, food, energy and materials that are spatially allocated for their use phase (e.g., trees for oxygen, surfaces for water harvesting) must also have spatial allocations for their replenishment (e.g., vegetative area for the conversion of CO2 back to oxygen, water harvested to be treated by ecological treatment methods to make fresh water again). We refer to this method as EcoBalancePlanning™.
The procedure is based on the potentials afforded by an equal-area infinite grid projection system. ArcView™ software enables an easily-referenced equal-area cell size to represent various land area aggregates necessary for many of the life-supporting land-based technologies at both the sourcing and re-sourcing ends of the life cycle. The result is a plan that provides a client with figures that represent the land’s baseline holding capacity with regard to the number of humans that the land is able to support.
An integrated land use master plan results, for example, when a resource such as wastewater is fed into forested areas for treatment, thus increasing the forest’s biological capacity to provide more oxygen and a better CO2 sink. In such a case, efforts to balance air and land use may be aided by re-routing the flow of waste, creating an integrated system. Often our master planning projects are coupled with architectural design, enabling the planning phase to inform architectural decisions. [back to top]
Policy and education initiatives are inherent corollaries to our planning and design endeavors. Individual projects are used to establish precedents; these become accessible to a larger public through policy advancements, publications, workshops and lectures that we undertake throughout the United States and abroad. Public policy initiatives such as the Austin Green Builder Program (the first municipally-adopted green builder program in the world) and the Texas Architecture and Engineering Guidelines (one of the first instances of integrating sustainability considerations in a state’s A&E guidelines) have become national and international models, spawning similar programs in cities and states throughout the world.
The Center often engages in collaborative projects with governmental entities, community organizations and professional associations. In this way, our work catalyzes a transformative process as prototypes become the bases for an invigorated standard practice by design and construction professionals. [back to top]
The Center has developed analytical tools that enable better understanding and incorporation of sustainable principles. These procedures are robust due to the inclusion of benchmarked and peer-reviewed datasets for establishing economic and environmental impacts, including greenhouse gases, criteria air pollutants, toxic releases, and employment. The analysis provides an organized and hierarchical method to guide decision-making, and can be tailored for many scales, from individual buildings to county, state, or national levels.
In addition, the Center uses a combination of GIS, input/output analyses of the U.S. economy, and life cycle data to address the balance of energy, food, water, air, and materials. Economic impact is demonstrated in the form of regional boundaries and the flow of currency between these boundaries. [back to top]