Green Pre-Planning for Lasting Results

David Miller, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP, BSA LifeStructures
Noble Lilliestierna, BSA LifeStructures

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While programming / planning efforts are typically an exercise to get everyone on the same page concerning programmatic priorities and budget limitations, this phase should also be approached through a lens of sustainability. If done correctly, this process will allow the focus to be on the benefits of avoiding overbuilding (program efficiency), planning for efficient systems (sustainable and green), sustainability ROI (first time costs vs life cycle costs), and setting standards for materials, equipment, and the environment. Utilization studies, stacking/adjacency planning, detailed criteria, and early estimates--along with a little diplomacy--provide the proof to ensure that the project gets off to lean, green start.

While building on the established programming and pre-design strategies has created a consensus for the design team and client to move forward, the process of refinement is continuous and early cost planning is critical. By using early costing and ROI , the design team can understand the immediate and lifecycle cost impacts of sustainable features and sustainable decisions, during the schematic design phase, where the cost impacts are minimal.

Presenters will trace the sustainability planning process using various examples such as the Stark Neurosciences Research Institute, a 140,700 square foot translational medical research complex at the Indiana University School of Medicine. Planning goals will be compared to the post-occupancy data, documenting and illustrating the effects early green planning can have on decision making, as well as lessons learned throughout the process.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand how early planning is key to ensuring sustainability is executed from a holistic perspective;
  • Apply early planning principles that enable sustainability as a priority throughout design and construction;
  • Create a post-occupancy analysis to measure if sustainability goals are being maintained; and
  • Have new creative sustainable strategies to implement in medical and other research facilities.


Dave's experience features complex research and teaching environments in Higher Education, Corporate Research, and Health Sciences. He is a collaborative leader and facilitator, well-versed in the diverse needs of science & technology clients whose foci range from discovery to learning to testing. Dave speaks and publishes on topics such as the influence of design on laboratory productivity, evidence-based lab design, sustainable research environments, and adaptive reuse of older buildings.

Noble is a mechanical engineer focused in sustainability who is always looking for what can make our buildings healthier places for the planet and the people who use them. As part of integrated design teams, he draws from knowledge including energy modeling, passive and active solar systems, daylighting, computational fluid dynamics, and renewable energy generation.


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