Tell us about your role at LS3P.

I see my role as facilitator of innovation and opportunity. That’s what sustainable design really is about. We indeed design beautiful intelligent buildings at LS3P, and now we’re upping our game to design beautifully performing buildings that give more than they consume ecologically, culturally, and economically.

What’s inspiring you right now? 

City-scale sustainability initiatives! I am so excited about urban design projects incorporating nature and targeting zero energy/water/waste as a district or region. This is huge and possibly the real key to achieving balance in our built environments. My next technology focus is learning geospatial design tools to better understand these larger environments.

What are the greatest challenges we’re facing in the industry?

The greatest challenge is how we talk to our clients about opportunity and impact. It’s not just in the South that architects are hesitant to openly introduce best practices in sustainable design, despite our ethical obligation as members of AIA. Many architects either wait for the client to set sustainability goals or practice “stealth” sustainability. A huge misconception among both clients and architects is the idea that a sustainable building costs more. The data simply doesn’t support that. However, tacking on sustainability goals purely as a checklist is almost certain to cost more.

What is your favorite hometown restaurant, and what should I order if I go there?

Farm Bluffton, Bluffton SC…. Four Course Chef’s Tasting Menu (with wine pairings), followed by a singer-songwriter concert at The Roasting Room next door.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in your role?

Create architecture with empathy and integrity. It’s more cost-effective and results in better design and healthier places. We must put ourselves in the place of the owner, the user, the neighbors, the ecosystems nearby. We are all connected, and architecture can enhance that connection or break it.

What is your all-time favorite song?

Moondance by Van Morrison

What role should green building rating systems play in our work?

Green building rating systems were created to provide accountability and comparability among buildings competing in similar markets. There was a lot of greenwashing in the 1990s. Flash forward to the 2020s and the checklist has become a costly burden that reflects a single day of operation. I think the most relevant green building systems are those that require actual performance – Living Buildings (including Petal Certification) and LEED OM (Operations and Maintenance – we can design new buildings ready to certify under this system).

If you could board a plane right this minute, where would you go?

Provence, France

About Elaine

Elaine Gallagher Adams, AIA, LEED AP BD + C, serves as LS3P’s Sustainability Leader. Gallagher Adams brings substantial multidisciplinary expertise and experience as a practicing architect, professor, sustainability consultant, historic preservation specialist, conference speaker, and contributor to national sustainability guidelines.  She is based in the firm’s Savannah office and serves as a firmwide resource for high-performance building design.

Gallagher Adams has a broad range of high profile project experience that includes leading an urban autonomous vehicle study for Volvo, managing high-performance integrative design on the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and serving as a national voice for whole systems design and deep energy retrofits at Rocky Mountain Institute as a senior consultant, architect, and senior project manager. Leading significant historic preservation projects for many years in New England and then Denver, her conservation mindset led naturally to a deep commitment to sustainable design at every scale and put her into design and consulting roles for contemporary architecture, historic preservation, nationwide corporate energy retrofits, city sustainability initiatives, campus sustainability plans, federal buildings, and international mixed-use developments.

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