Sustainable Practices & Standards

We are an architecture firm with a focus on design for communities: academic communities, religious communities, neighborhoods, towns, and cities. To us, designing for communities means a commitment to the people, place and environment that make up each community we work with. That’s why we believe in designing buildings with purpose and beauty, sustainability, and suitability for the communities who will use them and the environment we all share.

Sustainability has been a focus since our firm was founded in 1996 and is integral to our practice at every phase of design and construction. From reviewing siting, massing and building systems at the conceptual phase to carefully specifying materials with low embodied carbon, sustainability is interwoven into all aspects of our work.

As a signatory to the AIA 2030 Commitment since 2018, we strive for all projects to be carbon-neutral by 2030. We are proud to be among the 27 firms nationwide (15% of participating firms) that met the 70% energy reduction target for 2019.

We use LEED Silver as a basis for design standards, regardless of whether a project will be submitted for LEED certification. For us, designing buildings to be as high-performance, low-carbon, and greenhouse-gas-free as possible is as important as meeting basic code and program guidelines. And since today’s technology allows for the creation of sustainably designed structures with minimal compromises or cost increases, everyone is a winner — our clients save money on energy bills while protecting the environment we all share.

We take pride in the progress we’ve made toward higher-performance, lower-carbon, and more resilient and enduring buildings. And, we’re constantly working to reduce the environmental impact of every one of our projects — which helps our clients save money and protects our natural resources.

Some of our recent sustainable design projects.

Willis Point Residence, Westport Island, ME
  • Net Zero
  • Super-insulated (continuous 6” – 8” layer of exterior insulation)
  • R-40 Walls
  • R- 60 Roof
  • Triple-glazed windows
  • continuous peel and stick air-water barrier on the outside of the frame
  • Heated and cooled with an air-source heat pump system (the house never draws more that 3,000 watts)
  • Solar panels
  • Battery backup
  • Efficient lighting and appliances
Reuben Hoar Library, Littleton, MA
  • Targeted for LEED Silver certification
  • High efficiency air sourced heat pumps.
  • No fossil fuels in the building
  • Daylight harvesting and automatic light dimming
  • Automatic window shades to reduce solar gain
  • Planned for future photovoltaic system
  • Campus design with shared parking
Concord Free Public Library Expansion (and connection to historic house), Concord, MA
  • Robust building envelope (walls 30% / roof 55% better than Code)
  • Projected energy savings of 80% compared to baseline, with possibility of zero emissions once fossil fuels are eliminated from the electric supply
  • Wood structure (stores embodied carbon)
  • Adaptive reuse of a 1790’s building with envelope improvements to reduce energy use
  • High-efficiency all-electric, fossil fuel-free HVAC system (air source heat pumps)
  • Natural ventilation where permitted by Code
  • Passive daylighting

We are proud to now be members of the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA). This green organization advances sustainability practices in the built environment by cultivating a cross-disciplinary community where practitioners are encouraged to share, collaborate and learn.

We are also happy to be members of Built Environment Plus (BE+). They are a membership-based community advocating for green buildings at the state and local level. And they provide green building education, networking, advocacy, and leadership opportunities for the sustainable building practitioner community and beyond. The results of their activities include better buildings and corresponding environmental and social benefits. Utilizing a broad matrix of building assessment processes leads to reduced energy use and corresponding greenhouse gas reductions, reduced water consumption, reduced toxicity, and improved indoor environments for occupants. All things that Johnson Roberts strives for in our designs.

Sustainable Design

We begin all projects with maximum sustainability in mind.

LEED-Certified Projects

Boston Public Library, Brighton Branch

Erving Public Library

Granby Free Public Library

Hopkinton Public Library

Mashpee Public Library – LEED Silver

Pearle L. Crawford Memorial Library (Dudley, MA)

Shute Memorial Library (Everett, MA)

South Hadley Public Library – LEED Silver

4 others are awaiting certification

Sustainability Practices

  • By using heat pumps (air source and ground source/geothermal) and more robust building envelopes, we have been able to substantially reduce energy use without any major changes to our design approach.
  • Our mechanical engineers typically do a series of energy models, beginning early in the design process, to evaluate different building envelopes and systems. These help us show clients the life cycle cost savings for high performance envelopes and systems.
  • We are constantly adding to our library of high-performance envelope techniques and systems to ensure that every new project utilizes robust, proven approaches by default.

AIA 2030 Commitment

We were one of only 15% of participating firms to surpass the AIA 2030 goal of 70% energy-use reduction for 2019 on a number of our projects.