Green Design

Green design (also called "environmentally responsible architecture" or "sustainable design") chooses to place a high priority on using environmental and social factors to inform design decisions. Goals of green design are minimizing the impact of the built environment on the natural environment, relieving over-stressed resources, and improving health and comfort of inhabitants. Green design is in high demand based upon the increased awareness of the general public. Consumers and end-users are requiring buildings, products, and processes to align with their desire to promote health and longevity for the environment, themselves, and future generations. 

The most widely recognized benchmark for green design is the LEED rating system (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) established by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The rating system developed by the USGBC assigns points for implementation of green design principles and certifies projects that comply with various thresholds. LEED certification is not required for a building to be "green," but certification does establish an association with a legitimized green design program.

Reiss Design Studio is LEED accredited and experienced in green design practices. Owner education and direction throughout the design process enables many green design strategies to be implemented without adding to the construction budget. Reiss Design Studio encourages the implementation of environmentally responsible practices for an improved environment for the users, the community, and ultimately, the world.

Reiss Design Studio has identified a variety of ways to implement simple green design principles outlined by the LEED rating system regardless of whether the project will pursue LEED certification:

Location on Site:

  • orient building to take advantage of the sun's path across the sky
  • minimize site disturbance
  • choose a location with inferior soil quality or topography so that higher quality land can be used for a higher purpose
  • take advantage of views

Site Design:

  • preferred parking for low-emitting vehicles
  • bicycle-friendly design
  • tree coverage over hardscape to reduce temperature on the site


  • provide high-quality insulation
  • select materials that have low-toxicity

Water Use:

  • select low-flow fixtures
  • collect rainwater or greywater for non-potable uses
  • install native landscaping

Design Elements:

  • maximize daylighting (reduces the need for electric lighting and provides a healthier indoor environment for inhabitants)
  • provide thermal mass elements that stabilize the temperature swings within a space
  • provide shading at windows exposed to the sun (with either vegetation or man-made shading devices)
  • provide natural ventilation (reduces the need for mechanical ventilation and increases the user's control)
  • utilize a structural design that minimizes thermal bridging