The latest news on New York architecture.

  • The Benefits of Incorporating Sustainable Building Strategies into Mixed-Use Designs

    The Benefits of Incorporating Sustainable Building Strategies into Mixed-Use Designs

    As our awareness of natural resource limitations continues to grow, the advantages of sustainable building strategies and their incorporation into mixed-use designs becomes increasingly important. Mixed use design fosters integration and density with two or more residential, commercial, cultural institutional, and/or industrial uses. Efficient building strategies are those that make highly productive use of natural resources and drive benefits for the city and its inhabitants. What are some of these advantages?  

    Efficient Use of Space

    Sustainable building design enhances efficiency in the use of energy, space and materials. For mixed use buildings, space efficiency is a key component in sustainable building strategies. The efficient use of space translates into saving energy and reducing waste over the lifecycle of a building.

    Environmental Impacts

    Sustainable building design optimizes energy performance and savings with the use of energy efficient equipment and utilizes design strategies to decrease reliance on heavy use power systems. This leads to a more efficient use of energy and reduces the impact on the environment. Mixed use buildings also promote walkability and help drive positive environmental impacts by reducing the carbon footprints in cities. With a greater variety of uses offered within a smaller footprint, people are more likely to explore on foot or via public transit versus exploring the area by cab or car.

    Health Benefits

    Smart growth strategies such as mixed-use development encourages pedestrian-friendly design. By building mixed use environments, this can help drive more active lifestyles, drive a greater sense of community and contribute to a greater sense of place. Sustainable building strategies also drive better environments for their inhabitants by maximizing natural light and providing increased air quality.

    Social Stimulation

    UCal Berkeley’s Professor of Urban Design Donald Appleyard’s lifetime of work pursued studies in the social and psychological effects of traffic and neighborhood layout as well as how to make cities and neighborhoods safe and livable. His research showed that the volume of traffic on a street affected the quality of life for residents in profound ways. People tended to rank their neighborhoods more favorably if they lived near transit corridors, sidewalks and activity. 


    All these qualities of  mixed use landscapes add up to increased productivity, vitality, and variety in neighborhoods, with an increasing focus on driving sustainability. The sprawling suburban model that the advent of the automobile encouraged is simply no longer viable for much of the world (is this relevant?). Mixed use design considers the fact that the city is constantly in a state of flux and provides opportunities for innovation in sustainable building. By promoting health, economy, efficiency, productivity, sustainability, and the social interaction of its inhabitants, mixed use design provides  more dynamic city life.

    For more information on mixed use design and driving sustainable building strategies, please contact Scott Henson Architect.

  • What is the Green Plot Ratio?

    What is the Green Plot Ratio?

    The green plot ratio, known as GPR, is a powerful metric in urban design and development.

    GPR is an architectural metric utilized for assessing and planning the inclusion of greenery in cities and buildings. This metric was devised by Singaporean landscape architect Dr. On Boon. GPR was developed with the intent of optimizing the amount of green space, or plant coverage, in an urban environment.

    Using GPR an architect has a quantifiable measure to determine how much greenery should be incorporated to counteract the absorption of heat in the building fabric as well as enhancing the qualities of open space.

    How is GPR Calculated?

    GPR is a scientific ratio of plant coverage onsite to determine the ideal amount of greenery for creating sustainability in urban design. The ratio is determined based on the biological parameter of the "leaf area index", or LAI, a form of measurement for the total leaf area  per unit of ground area. LAI is calculated by taking a sample of foliage from the plant canopy, measuring the leaf area of the sample, and dividing it by the relevant plot size. The resulting GPR is the average LAI of the greenery on site, and the ratio depends on the type of greenery:

    • Grass: 1:1
    • Bushes/shrubs: 3:1
    • Trees: 6:1

    Urban green space helps play a vital role in the sustainable design and biodiversity within cities. Quality urban green space can help improve the quality of city life. Architects can utilize GPR to help maximize your green space potential without sacrificing on the utility or overall vision of the building project.   

    Why Use GPR?

    Urban sprawl has led to increases in pollution, consumption of energy and resources. As a response to the global climate crisis, increasing the use of greenery in our architectural designs can help drive sustainable development.

    The increased use of plants in urban design drives health and well being benefits, affects the quality of the air in our city and can contribute towards decreasing the effect of heat islands.

    If you’d like to know more about implementing GPR on an upcoming project, contact Scott Henson Architect. By creating more efficient buildings in NYC with the use of GPR, we are working to help reduce the contribution of carbon emissions in the city.