A Small Firm’s Journey to 2030

What will you do with what you have? That’s the question that has been stirring in my head. It is something that impacts every aspect of my life from relationships, work obligations and service in the community. Professionally speaking, what does it mean concerning ecological stewardship. At UDP, we have signed on to the AIA 2030 Commitment. It’s a challenge to our profession to walk the talk of reducing carbon emissions. Specifically, this requires firms to design buildings with 70% lower carbon emission by 2030.

You can’t track what you don’t measure. So that’s what we plan to do. As a small firm principal and working mother of two active children, do I really need to add something else to my plate? This decision was solidified for me on a family trip we took to Alaska. We spent a week in the wilderness experiencing nature’s beauty and bounty. In addition to wildlife sightings, we boated around the LeConte glacier, hiked in the luscious rainforest of Tonga National Park and watched sustainable fish harvesting practices in Whale Pass. Within these remote areas, people truly respect the environment and harvest what they need for food to sustain them through the winter because there is no store around the corner. It is a way of life. Although mail is delivered by floatplane twice a week, you learn to use, fix or recycle what you presently have. After that trip, I had a new appreciation for our planet’s water, our food supply and our lifestyle impact on the environment. Protecting this precious planet is our responsibility. My call to action is a resounding yes to learning new ways to improve on how we design our buildings.

Whether it’s the building products that we specify or the building systems we use to conserve energy, doing more with less is the charge for our practice. As part of the AIA 2030, we developed a sustainability plan for our office and reviewed our own internal practices. With this in mind and a need for new businesses cards, we decided to use card stock that is recycled from cotton t-shirt scraps. We love the idea of repurposing excess into something that we use everyday. Who doesn’t love the feel of a t-shirt! It’s a visual reminder that our everyday choices matter and can influence others to make small changes, too. We are excited to share each month about what this journey will mean for us as well as the clients we serve.

Pressing Toward Sustainability,
Alicia Belton, AIA, NOMA