Photo Jul 17, 10 37 14 AM

Every architect I know wholeheartedly believes in climate change. Most feel a responsibility to stop it. Perhaps that is because they know the building sector is responsible for 75% of carbon emissions in Washington DC. That number is even higher if you consider that transportation decisions are greatly influenced by the built environment.

At the 2019 American Institute of Architects national conference this past June, members overwhelmingly voted to pass a resolution for “urgent and sustained climate action…to exponentially accelerate the decarbonization of buildings, the building sector, and the built environment.”

Yes, it’s about time. Now how do we make it happen? The biggest step will be by designing all new construction and existing buildings as net zero energy (or zero-net-carbon). Basically, this means that the energy a building and its occupants need will be from renewable sources (no natural gas or fossil fuels). The ZERO Code, developed by the nonprofit Architecture 2030, has free tools for architects and clients to calculate energy consumption and provides carbon free options. You can be a net zero hero starting today!

“The ZERO Code provides AIA’s members a straightforward and cost-effective path for designing buildings that are zero net carbon today.” – Ed Mazria with Architecture 2030

Read more about the ZERO Code in this AIA article. Read more about the AIA resolution here.


Rachel Preston Prinz

(photo from EntreArchitect)

If you have ever thought about starting your own nonprofit architecture firm you should listen to this amazing story. Rachel Preston Prinz is a public interest architect who shares her experience with launching her nonprofit as well as directing her first documentary! Listen to her story in this podcast by EntreArchitect, Building a Successful Nonprofit Funded by a For Profit Firm.

Rachel Preston Prinz is an architecturally trained American designer working in architecture and design, place-making, cultural and historical preservation and community engagement. Rachel promotes the craft of architecture and the genius loci – spirit of place – as told through photography, publishing, marketing, and design. In addition to running the consulting firm Archinia and a non profit Architecture for Everybody, Rachel has served as a preservation commissioner in Taos, New Mexico, as a host of the University of New Mexico Taos Sustainability Institute, and as co-host of the TedX ABQ Women.

Listen to more podcasts on EntreArchitect.



Image courtesy of [bc] website showing project Crossing the Street | Activating Ivy City

Texas based nonprofit community design center, buildingcommunityWORKSHOP, or [bc] for short, has brought their talents to Washington DC. The organization seeks to improve the livability and viability of communities through the practice of thoughtful design and making.

We enrich the lives of citizens by bringing design thinking to areas of our cities where resources are most scarce. To do so, [bc] recognizes that it must first understand the social, economic, and environmental issues facing a community before beginning work.

Read more about their DC-based project Crossing the Street | Activating Ivy City.




image from’s website is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the lives of people in poor and vulnerable communities through design.

We’re an interdisciplinary mix of designers, storytellers, businesspeople, and systems-makers, a team of creative problem-solvers that is tackling the world’s biggest challenges through design. We partner with NGOs, governments, foundations, and nonprofits, going big in areas where we think design has something serious to say to the challenges of poverty.

The organization was formed in 2011 out of IDEO, a global innovation and design firm. They have created several guides and tools which can be found online in effort to spread their knowledge and the impact of design.’s latest online publication is Impact: A Design Perspective their first impact report. They also partner with Acumen for Human-Centered Design courses which you can read about in this previous post.

Visit for more online material.



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What is human-centered design?

It’s a process that starts with the people you’re designing for and ends with new solutions that are tailor made to suit their needs.

Advance your social impact skills this year by taking a free course on human-centered design. The design kit and online course are organized by Acumen and

The Course for Human-Centered Design is a seven-week curriculum that will introduce you to the concepts of human-centered design and how this approach can be used to create innovative, effective, and sustainable solutions for social change.

The course starts February 16, 2016 and runs through April. Folks are responsible for assembling a team of 2-6 who can meet in person 5 times for each 5-hour session.

Read more about the course and other offerings on the Acumen website.




Patio at Maple

Join Inscape Publico and AFHdc Tuesday July 28, 2015 for a relaxing and enjoyable evening on Maple’s back patio to socialize and learn about Inscape Publico’s latest project, the St. John’s Episcopal School in Honduras. AFHdc Directors will announce their new chapter subcommittees and share other updates from the international chapter network. You won’t want to miss this great networking event with leaders in Social Impact Design in DC!

RSVP for the event here. Can’t make the event but still want to learn more and/or contribute to the school in Honduras? Check out Inscape Publico’s Crowdrise campaign.

Inscape Publico is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit architecture firm with the mission to provide professional architecture service for other nonprofits and the people they serve. Their understanding of the nonprofit community not only fosters excellence in design, but creates architecture that represents the vision, goals and sensibilities of each of its nonprofit partners. Inscape Publico serves as a catalyst and jumpstarts nonprofit projects by providing valuable visioning sessions and design services through a unique business model to help nonprofits understand their design needs to meet their goals and aspirations.

AFHdc is a volunteer organization that works to solve social justice issues through sustainable design. Formerly operating for 10 years as the DC Chapter of Architecture for Humanity, AFHdc has provided pro bono design services for organizations locally and abroad.



The headquarters office of Architecture for Humanity closed it’s doors this month, shocking its affiliates and supporters. Here is the response from the AFH Chapter Network:

Despite the unfortunate news that our parent organization has chosen to discontinue operations and close their San Francisco-based office, the Architecture for Humanity Chapter Network is eager to continue our work. 57 chapters consisting of thousands of volunteers around the world provide pro-bono design services, advocacy, and training within our local communities.

AFH Chapters have tapped into the growing enthusiasm of the design profession for a socially conscious practice, offering a space for residents, community leaders, designers and nonprofits to convene and build visions of a more inclusive future. We will continue to act as facilitators, fundraisers, teachers, community organizers, designers and listeners for those in need. The commitment of this network of volunteers remains unwavering, and we vow to continue supporting our local communities.

We believe design is a right not a privilege. We organize today gathering our team of over 20,000 global volunteers to adapt to the changing climate of the design profession and to strengthen our commitment to advancing the mission of humanitarian design. True to our grassroots form, we are determined, agile and resilient. We are ready for the challenges of this new year and are looking towards a brighter future. United we stand stronger than ever.

Stay tuned as our congress of chapter leaders continue to share information on our path forward.

See articles at Fast Company and Architect.


Grass Day-Use Building by M2 Architecture and Re:Vision Architecture

The Washington DC area is going to get one of its first Living Building Challenge buildings thanks to the Alice Ferguson Foundation. The environmentally focused Maryland nonprofit hired M2 Architects, Re:Vision Architects, and Andropogon to design a campus of buildings on their 330 Acres in Accokeek, Maryland across the river from Mount Vernon. The Grass Day-Use Building is the first in the phased construction and is nearly complete. It has been designed to meet the progressive ‘regulations’ of the Living Building Challenge. Only one building on the East Coast has received the Living Building Challenge certification thus far. Students from Washington DC public schools will visit the Grass Day-Use Building to learn about the environment and will participate in the Living Building Challenge by measuring the building’s performance and impact on the environment which is required for a year after construction for all Living Buildings in order to get certified.

The Alice ferguson Foundation connects people to the natural world, sustainable agricultural practices and the cultural heritage of their local watershed through education, stewardship and advocacy. 

Read more about the Living Building Challenge. See the other AFF buildings and check out the live Webcam.