September 26, 2016
“The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say ‘thank you’. In between, the leader is a servant.”
. . . or so said Max De Pree, the CEO and President of Herman Miller from 1980 to 1987. His father, D. J. De Pree, founded the office furniture company in 1905 and we now know it as one of the most equitable, forward-thinking, and sustainably-focused businesses in our … [Read More]
July 1, 2016
Here’s a fun fact for you: According to the 2014 AIA Firm Survey report (sorry, no hyperlink, you have to buy it), 79% of AIA Member firms have less than 10 employees. Recognizing this, the AIA has a Small Firms Roundtable knowledge community and a whole online Small Firms Resource Center with practice tools, contract and insurance information, and links to sustainability resources to serve these members.
Oddly missing from the Small Firms Resource Center: … [Read More]
June 2, 2016
Are you a commitment-phobic? It’s not pretty.
If you have commitment issues, the thought of going “all in” with another person could give you the shakes. For some peripatetic people, the grass over there always looks greener. Some sorry folks have torched a few too many bridges in their lives.
But hey, not us! We’re architects and interior designers. Ours isn’t a field you dabble in. You commit to it. Every day.
So we … [Read More]
May 26, 2016
Bergmeyer is excited to announce the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) has designated our firm as a LEED® Proven Provider™ in the Interior Design and Construction (ID+C) rating system family. The designation was developed to streamline the LEED project review process for experienced organizations that demonstrate consistent excellence in administering LEED projects. Bergmeyer is one of only 15 organizations to receive this designation in ID+C.
Bergmeyer’s first LEED project was certified in October of 2008, … [Read More]
May 2, 2016
Bergmeyer is excited to announce that we have surpassed the 50 LEED Certified project mark! Our recent project for TD Bank in Burlington, MA, has achieved LEED Gold certification under the Building Design and Construction (BD+C) rating system making it our 51st LEED Certified project. This is an important milestone for the Bergmeyer team, and we’re happy to share it.
Bergmeyer’s first LEED project was certified in October of 2008, and within less than 8 … [Read More]
February 29, 2016
“It’s great that the firm’s senior leaders are so committed to sustainable design. But it’s hard to see how I connect to that mission in my day-to-day work.”
I’ve recently become president of Bergmeyer, my architecture and interior design firm. With this new position, I have set an ambitious goal: to have lunch with each and every member of our staff. It’s been great so far! But that first statement has come up a few … [Read More]
October 13, 2015
I started writing this blog just over four years ago on a dare. I accepted a challenge, and my part of the bargain was to write regularly about my design firm, Bergmeyer, and our adoption of the AIA 2030 Commitment. Seventy-two posts later, I’m still volunteering for big, hairy, audacious challenges. Still haven’t learned.
The challenge I’m writing about today is a bigger but related one. I’m setting sustainable design performance goals for Bergmeyer, and … [Read More]
September 11, 2015
A recent Bergmeyer project epitomizes environmental and social responsibility. Designed for Jeff Kinney, author of the Wimpy Kid books, and his wife, Julie, the project has had a significant impact on the community and the local economy.
The Kinneys purchased a long-abandoned historic building in their small Massachusetts hometown of Plainville, planning to restore it. Their intended new use for what had once been a general store was a civic center to reinvigorate … [Read More]
September 8, 2015
As a signatory to the 2030 Challenge and the AIA 2030 Commitment, Bergmeyer is always seeking ways to reduce the energy consumption and carbon footprint of our projects.
We believed there were opportunities to reduce the energy consumption of a client’s big box stores to save on operating costs. From its early days as a home-based business more than 50 years ago, the company had grown into a national retailer with a portfolio of 65 … [Read More]
August 6, 2015
Greetings from Herring Cove Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The only place in the Northeast USA where you can watch the sun set in the west over the ocean. Or something like that.
Vacation can be a great way to get a new perspective. But all the time you’re on the Cape, you can’t help but think about climate change and sea level rise. The Ocean, the ecosystem, the climate: it’s why we come here. But … [Read More]
June 12, 2015
Were you in Atlanta for the 2015 AIA Convention? About 18,000 people attended, plus exhibitors. It was huge. I coulda missed you.
Here’s the headline news: If you are really, seriously committed to doing sustainable design, the Design Data Exchange (aka the DDx) – the new AIA 2030 Commitment reporting tool – will light up your life. The AIA COTE and a 2030 Commitment Working Group worked with the US Department of Energy for almost … [Read More]
April 21, 2015
Want proof that college is worth it?
This was the title of a recent article in the Washington Post. The story included a chart of 100 different college majors ranked by median lifetime earnings in millions of dollars. Architecture was around number 26, just ahead of Political Science. The top nine majors: all Engineering.
I had lunch with an engineer the other day: Kim Shinn, PE, LEED Fellow, of TLC Engineering. Kim calls himself … [Read More]
April 1, 2015
I own a small car. It’s a 4-cyilynder with a 6-speed standard transmission and front-wheel drive. And a roof rack for my skis.
I know how to turn it on, make it go and stop. And that’s about it. There may as well be a nuclear reactor under the hood. When the dashboard “check engine” light goes on, I take it to someone who knows what they’re doing.
The AIA 2030 Commitment is like … [Read More]
March 23, 2015
Bergmeyer’s commitment to sustainable design and environmental stewardship drives our desire to track energy and water use data in order to provide feedback on our existing projects and to increase the performance of future projects. Data tracking allows us to evaluate the effectiveness of the project’s design elements and sustainable strategies. This post occupancy evaluation focuses on the Eustis Street Fire House, a historic structure from 1859, comparing its predicted performance with actual data measurements … [Read More]
February 11, 2015
A Neil Armstrong moment: That’s when you realize that some unremarkable event is actually the result of a long, arduous, and purposeful process.
We at Bergmeyer recently had one of those Neil Armstrong moments. We finally got a look at how one of our project’s post-occupancy energy use compared with its designed energy use. There it was: actual performance versus design intent. If your firm has signed the AIA 2030 Commitment, you’ll understand why … [Read More]
January 20, 2015
I am frequently reminded of the difference between skepticism and cynicism. A certain amount of skepticism is necessary to form an honest critical evaluation. Be skeptical when you must. But avoid cynicism. It erodes objectivity.
I recently attended a public forum on the likely effects of climate change on my home town, Boston, Massachusetts. The first panelist was a historian. She had archival maps showing how Boston’s waterfront had been modified over the centuries. Next … [Read More]
December 29, 2014
Here it comes again. New Year’s Day. Time to press the reset button and set noble and ambitious goals for 2015.
What are yours? Lose weight. Get organized. Save money. Quit smoking. All good, but all self-oriented. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. The desire to improve one’s self and bring a certain calendrically-enhanced discipline to the pursuit is great. But have you ever made a New Year’s resolution to try to improve something … [Read More]
November 24, 2014
Fear of missing out. FOMO. It’s a thing.
A form of social anxiety, it’s that compulsion to know what other folks are doing just in case they might be having more fun than you. Anyone with a smart phone and a Facebook page has experienced it. There are real psychological drivers behind it, too. Check out Henry Murray’sExplorations in Personality and his list of psychogenic needs. FOMO is right there in between cognizance … [Read More]
October 21, 2014
“Sometimes I don’t speak right, but yet I know what I’m talkin’ about.”*
Architects and engineers. If one is from Venus, the others must be from Mars.
Why is it so hard for architects and engineers to communicate? One of my sustainability gurus, Barbra Batshalom, describes the typical architect/engineer relationship as pretty much dysfunctional. But as we have pledged to meet the energy efficiency goals of the AIA 2030 Commitment, never before has a … [Read More]
September 11, 2014
If you’re an architect or designer working in the built environment, I’d guess science wasn’t your favorite subject in high school. Acutesqueamishness was an impediment for me. Forget cutting frogs open, I still can’t even look at a needle. My career in the biological sciences was over before it began.
But I believe the scientific methodof research – my one major take-away from high school science classes – can inform any creative process. … [Read More]
August 14, 2014
One of the hardest things about the AIA 2030 Commitment is just keeping the faith. After getting your architectural firm to sign up, completing three or four years of reporting and enduring as many setbacks as improvements, sometimes you want to put your head down and just do your work.
But, hey, buck up. The whole world really is watching. (I’m not old enough to remember much from the 1968 Democratic National Convention except that … [Read More]
July 20, 2014
“What are you reading these days?” is a tough question.
To be honest, most of what I read now is in the social media stream. Although I still drop everything for a new print copy of The New Yorker (thanks, Katie!) and do plow through an actual book now and then (just finished The Metropolitan Revolution by Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley, just started On Some Faraway Beach: The Life and Times of Brian Eno… [Read More]
July 15, 2014
Recently ranked among the top three universities for campus food, UMass Amherst is committed to delivering healthy and sustainable dining options. Now, the recently renovated Hampshire Dining Commons on campus can boast its own sustainable accolades after achieving LEED Gold certification.
… [Read More]
July 13, 2014
Developed as part of our participation in the AIA 2030 Commitment, the 2014 Sustainability Action Plan details our current actions and our future goals for further incorporating sustainability into all areas of our operations and our design practice.
… [Read More]
June 25, 2014
Today I’m blogging live from the 2014 AIA Convention in Chicago. A trip to Chicago is always fun, but truthfully, I enjoy the AIA Convention wherever it is. I come for seminars that expand my mind. I attend to see friends and colleagues from across the country – including people I never get to see in my hometown. And I show up for the parties. But not necessarily in that order.
I kind of … [Read More]
May 22, 2014
Whenever someone says the word “feedback” I become momentarily distracted. I mentally flip into “air guitar” mode and imagine that I’m Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock playing the Star Spangled Banner . . .
But feedback is a good word. It’s an important concept. Anyone who wants to improve the output of a system needs to recognize – or create – process feedback loopsand watch them closely.
Designing buildings and spaces that are more and … [Read More]
April 15, 2014
What do you dream about when you’re designing? The thrill of seeing your brilliant ideas built? The joy of receiving thanks and praise from your clients? Maybe you dream of getting some publicity or winning a design award? Or feeling deeply satisfied from knowing you’ve made the world a more beautiful place?
Or do you just hope the lawyers won’t show up?
Fame and glory and energy efficiency that’s 50% better than baseline are all … [Read More]
March 6, 2014
Do you have a favorite recreational activity? Does it involve equipment? Golf clubs? A tennis racket? A bicycle, perhaps? I’m a skier. Skiers are serious equipment geeks! But the phrase you hear around the lodge is: Good skis don’t make a good skier.
However, better skis can make you a better skier. In my experience, if you’re already pretty capable at something and working hard to improve, better equipment can really amp your game.
Same … [Read More]
February 10, 2014
The Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation (BWAF) is working to change the culture of the building industry so that women’s work is acknowledged, respected and valued. I was honored when the BWAF invited me to be a guest blogger. Fully aware that women arewoefully under-represented in the field of architecture, I looked instead at the many thought-leaders I have come to know in the world of sustainable design. A re-posting of my BWAF blog follows: … [Read More]
February 2, 2014
My fellow Americans:
For tonight’s State-of-the-Union address, I’d like to share a vision with you all. A vision of a world where people work together to assure that fresh air, clean water, wholesome foods, and free, bountiful energy will be available for future generations as long as humankind exists.
This is called sustainability. Don’t we all want to live in this world? If we could make this vision real, what would it take?
Let’s begin … [Read More]
January 20, 2014
Put yourself in your doctor’s shoes. Nice Bruno Magli loafers, perhaps. What do you think goes through your primary care physician’s head when you come in with a sniffle and say: “Doc, what’s wrong with me?”
Of course he’s thinking: “Sheesh. This guy could have anything from an allergy to a viral infection. But before we can diagnosis this, we’ll need to ask him the usual hundred questions, starting with ‘are you getting enough … [Read More]
December 17, 2013
Energy geeks. We’re the ones out there doing our holiday shopping by squinting at the lights and saying “Wow, I wonder what the lighting power density in HERE is?”
When my architecture firm, Bergmeyer, completed our second year of reporting for the AIA 2030 Commitment, our mission was clear. We design a lot of retail interiors. Retail stores account for 20% of all US commercial energy use, and 22% of that energy powers electric lighting… [Read More]
November 4, 2013
Did Albert Einstein really say insanity was making the same mistakes over and over again but expecting different results? I know, it’s the most over-used cliche of all time. But gimme a break. It works perfectly here. And I promise never to use it again.
The 2013 Annual Report of the AIA 2030 Commitment is here. Download it, read and share. Help promote this important measure of our progress. Post a link on your firm’s … [Read More]
November 1, 2013
In the AIA’s 2013 Annual Report, Bergmeyer’s Mike Davis, FAIA, LEED AP and Dee Spiro, LEED AP relate the many ways in which Bergmeyer has successfully incorporated this commitment into our office as well as our work.
… [Read More]
September 26, 2013
“Eighty percent of success in life is just showing up.” – Woody Allen
Last Tuesday, we had our big Mayoral primary election in Boston. First time in twenty years that Thomas M. Menino wasn’t on the ballot. Given the historical significance of this race, you’d think voter turnout would be off the charts. It wasn’t. 113,222 ballots were recorded, 31% of registered voters.
But that participation rate was still better than what we’re seeing from … [Read More]
August 26, 2013
Left field for the Boston Red Sox. As major-league baseball positions go, it’s legendary. From 1940 to 1990, only three guys played left field for the Sox, all of them All-Stars. Ted Williams played it for 22 seasons from 1939 to 1960. Carl Yastrzemski, 23 seasons from 1961 to 1983. Then Jim Ed Rice, 15 seasons from 1974 to 1989. And all that was before Manuel Aristides Ramirez Onelcida.
Being Mayor of Boston is not … [Read More]
July 25, 2013
I have a friend who’s a climate-change denier. He calls climate science “junk science”. He gets in my face about carbon dioxide. CO2belongs in the atmosphere, he says. The difference between atmospheric CO2 at two hundred something or three hundred something parts per million is infinitesimal! Why waste US taxpayer dollars on some misinformed quest to micro-manage infinitely small quantities of a naturally occurring substance?
My usual reply: Arsenic is a naturally occurring substance … [Read More]
June 28, 2013
I was in Denver last week for the 2013 AIA Convention. Denver’s a great town. Lively, walkable downtown, excellent public transit and some pretty interesting buildings. I recommend David Adjaye’s Museum of Contemporary Art up in Lodo near the Cherry Creek Trail. Nice. Libeskind’s DAM? Been there, seen that.
But enough with the travel tips. One reason I go to the AIA Convention is to see Kelly Pickard’s presentation on the state of the … [Read More]
June 13, 2013
In case you hadn’t noticed, sharing is now “in”.
Urban bike sharing companies like Hubwayand CitiBike are all over American cities.Zipcar is so widely visible it’s almost a generic term. For vacationers, “Aribnb” has taken couch-surfing to a whole new level. Have you heard of NeighborGoods yet? Got a ladder? Need a ladder? How about Sidecar? “Share a ride with someone awesome”. This idea has traction.
Here’s something else you … [Read More]
May 14, 2013
A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post on leadership for the AIA 2013 Convention “blog off”. Seventeen architects contributed, many of the posts were rather good. In ways that I don’t quite understand, our collective musings will contribute to the Convention theme.
In one post, Doug Wignall, an architect from Nebraska, trotted out Whitney Young, Jr.’s famous quote chastising the attendees of the 1968 AIA Convention. I was in 6th grade at … [Read More]
April 24, 2013
I usually write about the AIA 2030 Commitment. My focus has been architecture and climate change. And since last Monday was Earth Day, I had a rich supply of emails and RSS feeds to fuel the ever-present need for new blog material.
The best thing I saw last Monday was this 10-minute video of Dr. Amory Lovins (Hon. AIA) giving the keynote at “RMI25: Celebrating Solutions”, the Rocky Mountain Institute’s 25th Anniversary Gala.
Dr. Lovins,… [Read More]
April 12, 2013
The Boston City Council will soon vote on a proposed building energy use reporting and disclosure zoning ordinance. If we really want to reduce our city’s energy use and associated greenhouse gas emissions, we Bostonians need the City Council to approve this “benchmarking” ordinance.
Under the 20-year leadership of Mayor Thomas M. Menino, Boston has made great progress in adopting policies designed to protect our City from the effects of climate change by reducing greenhouse … [Read More]
March 29, 2013
Which is better to have: power or influence?
This isn’t a hypothetical question. Answer for yourself. In your world – a community of design professionals focused on architecture and climate change – which is better? And what’s the difference?
Power is authority. It’s binary: you have it or you don’t. It is given or taken. A governor has power over the people and money in their government. A police officer can order you to pull … [Read More]
March 7, 2013
When I say “risky business”, what comes to mind? Tom Cruise dancing without pants to Bob Seger? Oh, please. Such foolishness.
Real estate development. Now that’s risky business.
As much as we like to think that architecture brings beauty and inspiration to the built environment (it does), the purpose of a lot of our work is to attract capital. In reality, the overwhelming majority of the buildings we design are intended to make money for … [Read More]
February 7, 2013
Imagine this: The lobby of your office building is flooding with water. It’s rushing in through broken storefronts and will soon be over your head in depth. Something in the basement explodes, rocking the whole structure. The power goes out, and you scramble up a fire stair seeking safety.
A couple days ago, this story was being re-told to a roomful of people who had assembled for a press event in Boston, Massachusetts. Not a … [Read More]
January 23, 2013
January 23, 2013
Dear Mr. President:
Please allow me to introduce myself. I’m the 2013 President of the Boston Society of Architects. This voluntary one-year position is of course by no means comparable to the truly awesome office to which you were just re-elected. But we both serve with the hope that we can do lasting good.
Next, I would like to offer my highest compliments on your truly inspiring Inaugural address last Tuesday. As … [Read More]
January 8, 2013
Congratulations on surviving the holidays.
If your life is anything like mine, the holidays hold the potential for exquisitely painful conversations with friends or relatives that don’t exactly share your world view. Climate-change deniers tend to seek me out at parties with eggnog on their breath and confrontation in their eyes.
A favorite greeting goes like this: “Hi, Mike. Happy holidays. Why should we in the US put our economy at risk to stop this … [Read More]
November 30, 2012
What does your architecture firm know about sustainable design?
I’m not asking what YOU know about sustainable design. What you know is between your ears. What an organization “knows” is different.
The book that brought me to the fascinating topic of organizational knowledge was Peter Senge’s The Fifth Discipline. It introduced me to the concept of systems thinking. Through systems thinking, organizational leaders can connect people to a shared vision and evaluate how … [Read More]
November 12, 2012
“Sure. You can sign this 2030 thing. We could ALL sign it, but we would still FAIL!”
The man standing at the microphone made a scribbling-across-his-palm gesture to signify writing and paused for us to feel the impact of his impassioned and imploring expression. We – speakers at a panel presentation – squirmed in our seats waiting to see which of us would address this “question” from the audience.
Fail? Us? How?
The American Society … [Read More]
October 19, 2012
I’m writing this post from Burlington, Vermont, at the 2012 AIA New England conference. I love Vermont, it’s my getaway state. Like a second home. My blood pressure always goes down when I’m in the Green Mountains.
Which is good, because David Brooks made my blood boil this morning with his New York Times Op-Ed titled “A Sad Green Story”. Yeah, I know, it’s his job to piss me off, but c’mon. Why this insistence … [Read More]
September 26, 2012
I love Chicago. Great city. Millennium Park, the Art Institute, the Drake Hotel, all that fabulous Sullivan and Richardson. And the blues at Buddy Guy’s. And the boat tours.
But how about those White Sox? Don’t like them very much. My home team, the Boston Red Sox, took three out of four games in their last series, but that’s about all Boston has won this year. Chicago is in first place and … [Read More]