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Building in Good Faith - Green Building Resource for Religious Institutions

Planning & Decision-Making

Hiring Architects, Designers and Builders to Help You Build Green

When Should You Hire Your Architect?

Hiring an architect who has experience with green building is one of the most important steps you can take.

We recommend that an architect be hired as early in the process as possible in order to create a strong partnership to ensure the success of your building efforts. The following are resources which we have identified to help you select the architect who is right for your project.

How To Select Your Architect

There are several methods to identifying and selecting an architecture firm, as well as contractors and engineers, etc. Whatever method you employ, we recommend that you choose from among several candidate firms. In this way, you are best fulfilling your stewardship obligations to your organization.

Taking time to hire an architect with the proper skills and experience is critical to a successful green building project.

Ways to identify firms include: canvassing leaders within your community for referrals of firms they've worked with in other contexts; asking for referrals from others in the wider community (e.g. other houses of worship or schools, libraries in your area); going to the member directory of the United States Green Building Council (www.USGBC.org) to access its database of LEED registered firms; or, again, using the web site of the American Institute of Architects (www.AIA.org).

Your choice of an architect is critical to your ability to build green successfully.
The same holds true for selecting a builder and other professional service vendors such as engineers.

We have developed a list of interview questions which we suggest you ask all prospective architects and builders. In particular, it is important to identify architects and builders with experience completing green building projects - preferably on-time and on-budget. Green building is a new area of activity, and not all "green" architects or builders have the experience, networks and contacts to support a truly successful green building project. If you use the questions we provide, you should be able to identify those professionals who really do have the skills and experience you need to make your green building project a success.

Architect & Builder Interview Questions

  • Describe your firm's experience with green building. Provide examples of actual green building projects your firm, or you personally, have designed and directed.
  • Describe how you conduct a design charette? What kinds of positive results have you seen emerge from design charettes?
  • Have you, or has your firm, completed any LEED-certified projects? If so, please provide a list.
  • What have you learned about green building in the course of your experience? What challenges have you encountered, and what strategies have you developed to address these challenges?
  • What budgetary implications have your green building projects carried? Have they cost more than your conventional building projects of similar size and scope? If so, how much more (on a percentage basis)? What was the source of the added cost?
  • By what percentage have your green building projects lowered the new building's life-cycle or operating costs? What has been the source of the cost reductions?
  • Do you have relationships with builders, subcontractors and suppliers who also have green building experience? When it comes to making sure that builders and suppliers meet the green specifications you have set, what strategies have you followed? Please provide specific examples.
  • In what areas of green design do you have the most experience? Are you, or is your firm, particularly experienced with residential, commercial, educational, or religious facilities?
  • Please provide references from three green building projects that you or your firm have completed.

Additional Resource

We also recommend that you visit the web site of the American Institute of Architects (http://www.aia.org/pub_yaya_gettingstarted) to consult its "architect finder/getting started" section which walks you through the entire architect selection process from the owner's or client's viewpoint. It's a clear and helpful resource.

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