I tell architects, your project is not the project. Your project is the health of the ecosystem. Why else do we do green buildings?
– Bill Reed
Human development should serve as an instrument for regenerating life
7group began our existence focused on how to improve the technical design of green buildings. We developed a keen focus on systems thinking and an integrative process. Along the way we discovered that applying an integrative process to technical systems was not enough. Our focus needed to shift from seeing building projects as the outcome, to projects as a developmental instrument for achieving a larger purpose and processes aimed at the vitality and viability of the larger systems in which the building is nested. This process called us to shift our aim and direction toward regenerative design and development associated with living systems. We believe that any project can be leveraged as a highly effective acupuncture point for helping transform community vitality and regenerating life. We can help you to explore connections that develop interrelationships, to promote the holistic affects that you are aiming to manifest in the world.
In short, 7group can help your project to realize its full potential. Through our experienced network of partners and associates, we can provide a vast array of services, including regenerative process facilitation, commissioning, video production, energy modeling, daylighting analysis, materials consulting, ecological assessments, the implementation of green building assessment tools, and so much more (click here for a comprehensive list of services). We also offer comprehensive design and construction services for projects, which align closely with our values and aspirations, through partnerships with local construction firms. One of our particular strengths is helping the owner to delineate specific project requirements and build the right design team that understands the importance of an integrative, regenerative process and how to effectively implement it. Our services all share one thing in common, they are customized to provide you with the help you need to manifest your project in a way that develops its evolving capacity to serve as an instrument for the change you seek to embody.
The Integrative Design Guide to Green Building
Our book, published in 2009 with co-author Bill Reed, has been called the definitive guide to the integrative process. It is full of examples from our early projects that revealed the systemic connections between building systems including the building and the larger ecosystems within which it is embedded. The last chapter, Evolving the Field, foreshadowed where we were heading. While our process has evolved since the book was published, the core principles associated with integrative design still apply and inform our work every day.
“Understanding that buildings, their components, and their context are nested whole systems, the way to solve interconnected problems without creating new ones is to “solve for pattern”. This is done by discovering the story of each place, and designing not merely to restore ecological functions but to facilitate the ongoing evolution of a place to higher and better functioning. Ultimately, the focus of resources, energy, and attention that comes about when designing and building or renovating a facility becomes an opportunity to transform both the place and the participants, helping both initiate a continuing evolution. If this all sounds like pie-in-the-sky idealism, read a few of the many real-world stories to see the potential.” – Nadav Malin, Environmental Building News book review
Visit the Book page for more information.
Re Farm Cafe
The owners came to 7group wanting to build an off-the-grid, LEED certified, farm-to-table restaurant located on a working farm. After engaging a co-discovery process, exploring the owners’ underlying aspirations, the effort shifted to using the process of designing and constructing this farm-to-fork café as a means for building the capacity of all project participants to serve as co-creative agents for affecting systemic local building and fooding practices in the region. Created from the vision and aspirations of the owners and their project’s stakeholders, the project’s purpose expanded and evolved in a way that inspires people to create a stronger connection to the place so they can contribute to its health in a meaningful way through immersive educational experiences. How we produce and consume food on diversified, small farms in this place is the project’s instrument for regenerating life in the community and lifeshed it serves.
More information at https://refarmcafe.com/.
Phipps Conservatory Center for Sustainable Landscapes
Phipps applies an evolving regenerative focus to all that they do from the food in the café to their educational offerings. This focus is uniquely manifest in their buildings and infrastructure as well. The Center for Sustainable Landscapes was the organization’s first major attempt to implement an integrative process as part of the pursuit of the Living Building Challenge. 7group facilitated numerous project-focused design and community workshops and served as technical consultants. The end result is one of the most highly touted green building projects in the world. Phipp’s Executive Director, Richard Piacentini, has become a regional and national leader promoting regenerative design and has embraced a developmental mindset joining us in our work with Carol Sanford. Phipps continues to innovate and evolve their regenerative capacities on three other projects pursuing the Living Building Challenge. 7group has been helping to apply an even deeper regenerative design process to recent projects and has worked with the Phipps staff to embed this mindset into everything they do.
More information on the project can be found here.
Here is an article on the application of regenerative principles to the work Phipps does.
At its core The Willow School embraces each unique student’s joy of learning based on moral virtues and the wonder of nature, so that each can make a meaningful contribution to the world. Their operations and infrastructure are a major part of the lessons learned at the school. From the beginning of the development of the campus Willow has embraced an evolving, developmental process of building, aspiring to higher levels of integration and regeneration with each project. The process began with the creation of a Story of Place® by our colleagues at Regenesis which served as the basis for the development for the project’s master plan. Three building have been built with 7group playing a role on each. Most recently the Health, Wellness and Nutrition building achieved full Living Building Challenge certification. In addition to the incorporation of the building systems into the curriculum, this project has a focus on the growing and eating of healthy, nutritious food from the gardens surrounding the building and prepared in the teaching kitchen inside. The building systems fully embody and reflect the focus on creative, systems thinking capacity they instill in their students.
More information here.
Check out the Living Building Challenge case study.
Hear about Willow in the words of its students.