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Sustainability Is Way of Life at SmithGroupJJR

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At SmithGroupJJR's Phoenix office, design excellence and sustainability are synonymous. The office has been responsible for 11 LEED-certified projects and has 12 more pending, but the firm's design philosophy has also brought some of the same sustainable features that SmithGroupJJR would employ on a LEED-Platinum project—high-performance building envelopes, energy modeling, daylight analysis and natural ventilation—to most of their other projects..

Image Courtesy of SmithGroupJJR
The $35-million Integrated Education Building at GateWay Community College in Phoenix is scheduled for completion in July.
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"I joke with clients [that] if you don't want a sustainable building, you're going to get one regardless because that's who we are and how we think about the projects we are doing," says Mark Roddy, design principal.

The emphasis on sustainability is why you might not be able to pick a SmithGroupJJR project out of a lineup. "Amongst the work we do, you aren't going to see a consistent stylistic language," says Mark Kranz, design principal. "All of our projects are born out of their specific place and looked through a lens of high level sustainable practices. That becomes a design aesthetic in itself."

Originally founded in 1853, SmithGroup—which integrated landscape design studio JJR into its title at the end of 2011—has 10 offices across the U.S. The firm opened the Phoenix office in 1973, and the location now has more than 100 employees, 59 of whom are LEED-accredited.

"As a firm, we are trying to be leaders from an ethical, design and sustainability standpoint," Kranz says. "We set a very high standard for ourselves—both for our clients, but also for the construction and design industry."

The Phoenix office garnered more than 30 design awards in 2011, including ENR's Best of the Best Project award for Chandler City Hall, a 137,700-sq-ft government office building in Chandler, Ariz. The pending LEED-Gold project was also recently named one of the top 10 projects in the U.S. for 2012 by the AIA Committee on the Environment.

"I'm proud of the urban design aspect of that project, the way the building deals with the downtown," says Roddy, the design lead on the project. "It was designed to encourage development, make connections to the historic square and get more pedestrian activity on the street."

In fall 2011, the firm completed the new DPR Corporate Headquarters in Phoenix. Not only is the 16,500-sq-ft adaptive reuse building targeting LEED-Platinum status, but it's also SmithGroupJJR's first project to target net-zero energy use.

"With a relationship spanning over a decade, we are fortunate to consistently be teamed on challenging projects with SmithGroupJJR," says Dave Elrod, DPR's regional manager. "They provide solutions that demonstrate a commitment to meeting the demanding needs of the customer, while still maintaining a strong commitment to the community and the environment in which we live."

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