VIA Design Philosophy

VIA Design, Ltd. Philosophy--Sustainable Design

FACT: Buildings in the United States consume 30% of our total energy and 60% of our electricity annually. Source: Smart Growth America)

FACT: The construction industry is one of the major generators of waste, amounting to about 35% to 40% of material sent to landfills. An average commercial construction project in North America produces up to 2.5 pounds of solid waste for each square foot of new construction. (Source: U.S. Green Building Council)

FACT: Between 1992 and 1997 the U.S. paved over 6 million acres of farmland. This increased the urbanized land area in the United States by 47%, when population had grown only 17%. In addition to reducing the amount of prime farmland, this development impacts wildlife and plant habitat, increases surface runoff water, and creates heat island effects and light pollution. (Source: U.S. Green Building Council)

A growing trend in the design and construction industries is sustainable design. As defined by the World Commission on Environment and Development, sustainable design is “Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Organizations such as the U.S. Green Building Council and Smart Growth America are resources to the design and construction process.

Energy sources such as wind power, solar and geo-thermal can greatly reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. Renewable energy is any energy resource that is naturally regenerated over a short period of time and is derived directly or indirectly from the sun or other natural movements or mechanisms of the universe.


This term, imitation of life, is used to describe ways that nature efficiently solves shelter and survival challenges, and how we can learn from these solutions. For example, with all natural and renewable materials, termites create housing that is oriented to remain at a constant internal temperature. Diatoms, which live in the upper layers of fresh and salt water, make up only 1% of the mass of living organisms yet produce 50% of the planet's photosynthesis. These and many other examples can provide sources of inspiration for creating design solutions.


Rather than enclosing a building and tempering the space with artificial light and mechanical systems, natural ventilation and day-lighting can be effectively utilized. Studies have shown that students and employees perform better in spaces with natural light. Other systems, such as the "Living Machine" which utilizes plants and animals to treat waste water, can also provide an aesthetic addition to a space.


By utilizing salvaged materials, the need for landfill space is reduced. Selecting materials with recycled content reduces solid waste and the impacts associated with extracting, harvesting and manufacturing virgin materials. For example, the "Earthship" is constructed from old tires, aluminum cans and glass bottles. Also, components such as green roofs can help insulate a building while providing natural habitat for insects and birds.

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