Integrative Design





A discovery process optimizing the elements that comprise all building projects and their interrelationships across increasingly larger fields in the service of efficient and effective use of resources


by Michael Shilale, AIA, LEED

May 10, 2010

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New City  NY -  Systems thinking is used in many fields such as computing, health, manufacture, management, and more recently building design. Defined as the process of understanding how things influence one another within a whole, systems thinking can deliver incredibly high performing buildings at little or no extra cost. Integrative Design is the use of a systems thinking process while designing and constructing a building. It can also be defined as the intelligent integration of technology with nature. If buildings are the primary culprit of our environmental challenges, with integrative design they can be part of the solution and the path towards energy independence.

Traditional design and construction offer dozens of opportunities to use a multidiscipline approach to improve building performance. Connections between paint color and HVAC systems, window design and lighting, stormwater management and irrigation and many other potential interconnections can deliver higher performance for lower costs. Increasing the reflectance of your interior walls and ceilings can reduce your lighting loads and therefore your cooling costs.  Did you know that for every 3 watts of energy you use to light your spaces, you use 1 watt to cool the space from the heat given off by the lighting?  Many other opportunities are lost in the traditional design method even when individual systems are optimized. In order for the mutual benefits of integrative design to be gained a collaborative design process must be pursued.

There is now an ANSI standard detailing the integrative design process - ANSI/MTS 1.0 Whole Systems Integrated Process Guide (WSIP)-2007. It tells us how using design workshops, pushing collaboration beyond the norm, setting measurable performance targets, and mapping the process will confirm you are truly integrating the design process for higher performing buildings.

Green buildings can improve performance in many areas. From energy use to indoor air quality, greener buildings:
• Reduce energy consumption and operations costs
• Use less potable water
• Maximize the use of sustainable materials
• Minimize negative impacts on interior air quality
• Improve the health, motivation and productivity of human occupants

Green Buildings' Numerous Benefits include:
• Improved Occupant Performance
• Reduce Operational Costs
• Better Indoor Air Quality
• Enduring Facilities
• Instructional Facilities
• Daylighting
• Enhance Asset Value and Increased Profits
• Reduced Environmental Impacts
• Positive Public Image
• Optimized Life Cycle Economic Performance
• Potentially No Increase in Construction Cost

For more information, signup for a class on sustainable design by  Clicking Here.

Michael Shilale Architects, LLP (MSA), an eight person architectural engineering firm founded in 1991, is committed to protecting and preserving the environment through their design work. We help our clients solve their building problems, protect their assets and investments, build under budget, and realize their vision. MSA serves an educational, commercial, municipal, and residential client base, throughout New York and New Jersey.  For more information visit or call 845-708-9200