On February 8th, 2018 green building professionals gathered to discuss the future of the built environment. The discussion, hosted by cove.tool, was moderated by Sandeep Ahuja of Pattern r+d. The following industry leaders of sustainability offer their own perspective on the future of sustainability and the future of green building.


Scott Jones of Georgia Tech / The Owner

Bill Abballe of Cooper Carry / The Architect

Amanda Atkinson of Holder Construction / The Contractor

Todd Mowinski of Newcomb & Boyd / The Engineer


Q: Where do you see the future of sustainability in ten years?

Scott predicts an increased focus on materials, giving the example that nap mats for children contain hundreds of chemicals. He believes that to achieve a carbon neutral society we will have to focus on more than just power and water.


Amanda is also passionate about an increased focus on materials. She believes that to tackle carbon there must be a push at the individual and company level.


Bill brought up the future of green building. He believes that codes and standards will evolve into emphasizing the importance of a buildings environmental impact much like energy codes have done. To him, it is key that we present all clients the greenest solutions even if they don’t ask for it.


Todd added how LEED used to be expensive when it was first introduced, but it has gained traction ever since the price began to drop. He predicts that the WELL Building Standard will see similar growth once the premium price drops.


Q: Most things change, what is one thing that will be the same in 20 years?

Todd believes that the constant need for innovation within ‘everyday tools’ will never disappear. For example, the fan pressure in duct-work is an iterative process that isn’t optimized in a single button. There will always be a need for time saving technology that allows us to flex creatively and not spend time on grunt work.


Scott agreed and answered that he believes people will remain the same because they are interface of art and science. A person’s artistry can change the purpose and functionality of these tools.


Bill answered that value engineering, meaning the effort to design and construct essential functions at the lowest life cycle cost, will never disappear. Bill went on to answer the question, will there be a single button that replaces an architect?


Bill Asks: Can we ever let computers design out buildings?  The short answer is: there can’t be an architect button, and we, as a society, don’t want one.

Bill states that the tools that architects use can’t come together without human interference. A single person can’t be an expert in every tool, so it is key that architects continue to collaborate with each other in order to deliver the BEST buildings.



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Q: What’s next as a game changer? What is keeping us behind?

Amanda believes that Cape Town’s water crisis is alarming, and technology needs to be fully and holistically adopted in order to push the entire world in the right direction to avoid future water crises.


Scott believes that the role of the architect should expand. Currently, architects participate in only 3-4 percent in the life of a building. He believes that if architects become part of the entire life cycle of a building then an emphasis on sustainability will become the norm.


Bill and Todd agree that an increased collaboration among architects will be beneficial to the industry. The focus of the architects should be, how do we keep the building performing as designed? Bill thinks that there needs to be more transparency for the users of the building. For example, users should be able to identify if their HVAC system is broken by the sound it makes.


Q: How are you altering sustainability practice or education?

Amanda believes that the scope starts small: beginning with one’s circle of influence and expanding into formal education. In fact, the research team from Holder Construction was shocked when 30 campus representatives from prime recruiting schools did not know that Holder has a Sustainability Director. Amanda recognizes the need for sustainability education within architecture degrees, and her team has begun to learn from graduates whose curriculum did include sustainability courses.


Scott thinks the best way to educate about sustainability is “one project at a time.” Buildings are living, learning laboratories. Each year the bar is set higher as it’s becoming more economically efficient to become even more sustainable.



Q: Any advice for professionals?

Bill advises that management should push their team to open up. He believes that mentoring programs will help the industry move forward because society depends on passing along stories about what works and what doesn’t work.


Amanda suggests that we should live by the 3 Ps: passion, persistence, patience. This mantra will help to get our society to come together to solve our world’s biggest problems.


Scott advises us that we should continue to educate yourself. 85% of people stop reading after collegeHe encourages one to follow your passion and pursue what you read.


Todd emphasizes the undying importance of fostering relationships with others. Although tools will continue to advance and get smarter, it’s important to not get distracted by these tools.



About Cove.tool, a software product which grew from the tools and process developed byPattern r+d, a sustainability consulting firm. Cove.tool is used as a decision-making tool for stakeholders to help reduce first cost while hitting rigorous energy targets. In minutes, the model conveys options for cost and energy savings in easy-to-understand graphical format. Cove.tool continues to develop with the latest technologies and direct feedback from its users.