BLDD Architects Inc.
Since 1929, BLDD Architects Inc. has been a premier architecture and design firm serving Illinois and Iowa. Founded in 1929, BLDD takes a collaborative approach to create innovative and effective design solutions. By incorporating freedom of thought and expression, paired with the latest technological advancements, BLDD truly is a unique partner.
BLDD began as a two-person operation in Decatur, Illinois, at the onset of the Great Depression. While the company’s first official project was a passenger terminal station, BLDD soon added clients in the areas of education, health care, municipalities, religion and private business. With great perseverance and vision, BLDD has grown to its present staff of more than 65 employees throughout its five offices in Decatur, Chicago, Champaign and Bloomington, Illinois and most recently Davenport, Iowa.
The goal for the sustainable design group at BLDD is to make sustainable design a more integral part of the company both internally and externally. Externally, BLDD aims to remain current with requirements in such aspects as LEED. “We want to make sure that our basis of design is green,” says Rebecca Jourdan, sustainability director for BLDD. “We’re currently working on greening up our specs and refraining from using products that are not environmentally friendly.”
In addition to design and building techniques, BLDD puts forth an effort to engage with clients and follow up with sustainable education upon completion of projects. “We feel that it is really important,” shares Jourdan. “In this industry, it is often that you will complete a LEED building with sustainable features and then five years later there is turnover and folks aren’t keeping up with the sustainable practices. We want to come back to those places and continue to educate people on those practices.”
BLDD also reaches out the local community with education efforts. In 2015, the company’s Champaign office was involved in a Green Apple Day of Service (GADS). Green Apple is a global movement to put all children in schools where they have clean and healthy air to breathe, where energy and resources are conserved and where they can be inspired to dream of a brighter future.
The GADS that BLDD participated in took place at Garden Hills Elementary school in Champaign. When the school was built four years prior, a large planting area was included as a community and educational-based aspect. “Nobody really took care of it so it basically became a weed field,” says Jourdan. “We worked with the school district, the City of Champaign and landscape architects for a full day of service to not only replant the area, but also educate the students, teachers and parents on the benefits of the green space.”
By volunteering in the GADS, BLDD is adhering to its goal of being involved in at least two volunteer outreach programs per year. An ongoing process, BLDD works to document its external and internal efforts and then integrate those factors into its practice and a part of its corporate goals and core design group.
In 2016, BLDD is planning to establish a corporate-wide plan for the future of the company’s sustainability efforts. BLDD will align its training and business practices in regard to sustainability throughout the company. Also included in its initiatives is to include green design in the company’s QA/QC process. “Even if a project isn’t pursuing LEED certification, we want to assign a team that is more familiar with the LEED process and perform a QA/QC analysis on larger projects with a green eye,” explains Jourdan.
A green future
BLDD has found success throughout its 85 years in existence by thinking outside the box and deviating from the norm. As a firm that approaches diverse markets and industries, the company is comprised of trained professionals stemming from numerous backgrounds. “I am proposing to the company that our entire corporate staff take the LEED GA exam. That way, everyone will have an understanding of what the LEED process consists of,” explains Jourdan.
In her career as a sustainability director, Jourdan finds it rewarding, challenging and exciting to work for a company that has been recognized on a national level as a leader in certain market segments. “One of our principals is an expert in the senior living market and will be speaking at the LeadingAge Illinois conference about cross pollinating other market segments into senior living,” says Jourdan. “It has really been an exciting experience for me to come from a smaller firm to a company that is a leader and innovator in the industry.”
A goal that Jourdan is looking to achieve with BLDD is for the company to complete a senior living facility that is either fully sustainable or achieves LEED Gold certification. She is also intrigued by the possibility of completing a BlueZone community, whether it be a senior living facility or a college campus. With its past and future sustainability efforts, BLDD Architects Inc. is on track to remain a leader in sustainable design.
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