M+A Architects


2015 Enterprise Green Communities Criteria — A Collaborative Effort

  • APRIL 16, 2015
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For those of you unfamiliar with Enterprise Green Communities Criteria, it is a sustainable certification program specifically designed for use on affordable housing projects. Last week marked a big milestone in the continuance of this widely used system, as Enterprise officially released the 2015 version of the Enterprise Green Communities Criteria.

The 2015 Criteria marks the culmination of a year long process of reviews and revisions from partners across many different disciplines all contributing to an enhanced end result.  It is this collaborative effort that is at the heart of the new criteria, which contains much refinement of existing credits, as well as the creation of new credits that align with the direction of green design in the industry.


Over the past several years, fueled by a growing generation of internet and social media savvy professionals, the architecture, engineering, construction and development industries have seen an increase in collaboration from all aspects of a project.  Professionals that normally wouldn't talk with each other during the design process are getting the opportunity to learn from each contributor’s expert knowledge base.  Architects get to hear from the facilities manager, engineers get to learn from the owner, everyone is sharing their ideas with an end goal in mind – increasing the quality of housing for the end users.  While this may seem daunting to some and invoke the opinion of “too many cooks in the kitchen,” more knowledge only seeks to enhance the decision making process.  It is this notion which has seemed to fuel several of the changes in the 2015 Green Communities Criteria.

[caption id="attachment_5126" align="aligncenter" width="520"]2015 Enterprise Green Communities Criteria Source: Enterprise Green Communities (click to visit) [/caption]

The most widely revamped section of the new 2015 Green Communities Criteria surrounds Integrative Design Process, which relies primarily on early collaboration from the entire team in the planning of a project.  Enterprise Green Communities believes that “a successful integrative design process facilitates the design and development team’s achievement of their objectives throughout the project life cycle.”  With greater descriptions on Goal Setting (credit 1.1a) and Criteria Documentation (credit 1.1b) and new sections dealing with Designing for Project Performance (credit 1.1c) and Resident Health and Well-Being (credits 1.2a & 1.2b), the new 2015 Criteria helps foster a unified team throughout the design process.

Leveraging an Expanded Team

Having an expanded set of stakeholders involved it’s easy to get off-track, however there are several ways to help maintain the focus of the team:

  1. Have a strong leader steering all of the meetings. Having agendas and priorities for each meeting are a must to make sure time spent is valuable. Time is one of the most precious commodities to any professional.
  2. Set goals early and with the entire team. Making sure everyone feels they had a part in setting the path for the project keeps the team on track for the remainder of the project.
  3. Establish personal priorities for the end user and owner. This can be something as simple as “only use products from a certain manufacturer,” or can be as big as "the percentage of energy efficiency that will be attained.”
  4. Be prepared to share your expertise but also be willing to listen to team members on areas in which you're less familiar. The more knowledge being shared, the better informed decision making will be during the design process.

While highly sustainable and green projects can be complicated, a strongly led team with a collaborative, holistic approach to design is more advantageous. The 2015 update to the Enterprise Green Communities Criteria has done an excellent job of supporting team collaboration and success. Throughout the criteria document, you will find online resources and recommendations from others who have fully embraced the collective effort needed for these projects. Through the 2015 Criteria update, design and construction professionals will continue to share ideas, fine-tune the process and pave the way for innovation in the sustainable community.

M+A Architects