Decarbonizing Together

Boston Skyline with leaves in illustration
FA Energy skyline illustration created by Megan Brown.

The Path to Zero

Whether for individual buildings or on a campus-wide or portfolio basis, the work of building and infrastructure decarbonization aligns with Finegold Alexander’s AIA 2030 Commitment to reducing the carbon footprint of our projects. We are optimistically engaged in moving the needle during this “decade of action” to create climate-positive solutions and we see decarbonization of existing buildings as key to reaching a zero-carbon future.

This focus on carbon reduction is a multi-faceted process we are pursuing with like-minded partners, building owners, cities, facility managers, and anyone else whose favorite number is zero and loves acronyms! This is a team effort. Decarbonization work is achieved through joint efforts and is an ongoing process, bigger than any one building, firm or project. We are seeking to connect with others who are as passionate about this work as we are!

WHAT we do

Support lower energy use

Provide input on code triggers and poitfalls

Assist in big picture thinking

Find synergies between energy + envelope upgrades

Support system changes

Existing building elecrification

Design for new energy facilities

Determine impacts at building interiors

Preserve historic fabric

Coordinate construction scope

Seeing the Big Picture

Architects play a critical role in influencing both embodied and operational carbon in the built environment. We view decarbonization work through the same creative lens we take on all projects, blending design, preservation and reuse with energy and resiliency goals. This unique, holistic approach is particularly impactful for existing buildings as we seek creative ways to integrate energy upgrades with, ironically, the least architectural impact.

We are not an ego-driven team of architects; we understand many deep energy retrofits begin with engineering efforts. We support and supplement larger engineering-led master plans, teaming on a regular basis as subconsultant to engineers in the shared objective of decarbonizing our environment. Other times we work with the same set of engineers as a prime consultant. In short – it’s not about who’s in the lead – it’s about getting the job done. Decarbonization is key to addressing climate change. Period. We are part of the solution.

Focus on Existing Buildings

We get excited by the prospect of elevating existing buildings to newer standards of operation, improved comfort, healthier environments, and enhanced resilience for systems and people. We simply cannot meet future carbon goals without bringing the existing building stock along. According to Architecture2030, buildings account for nearly 40% of greenhouse gas emissions globally. With over 300 billion square feet of built environment in the US, we cannot ignore the impact of these existing buildings.

Studies begin with a meticulous review of building envelopes for synergistic and energy saving modifications to support MEP system changes. We thoroughly review existing building fabric and systems, original construction details, and take a deep dive with facilities personnel to inform our recommendations and reports. In the case of MIT’s Building 66, we provided actionable plans for potential replacement of the monumental plate glass windows. Minimizing the energy consumption of I.M. Pei’s pristine modernist building while simultaneously preserving its streamlined design profiles gets to the heart of our passion for sustainable and affordable architectural solutions that respect history and context.

A building doesn’t have to be on the historic registry to warrant reuse. There can be multiple financial, environmental and social benefits to adaptive reuse. We utilize several tools for understanding the embodied carbon impacts of renovation compared to starting from scratch. As technical architects who are closely engaged with the building, the client, and the CM, we take a holistic view of constructability and budgetary constraints in our recommendations.


Our Tool Kit

Each building presents unique challenges and often requires tailored approaches. Thermal imagery and air infiltration tests are often the first steps in analyzing existing buildings without disrupting building occupants. These tools can provide clues to the most critical focus areas in an energy retrofit.

Thermal imagery

Embodied carbon tracking

Envelope studies

Existing building expertise

At every site we visit, we find synergies between energy and envelope upgrades, and can provide important information regarding code triggers and other potential unforeseens. Together with technical professionals, we also utilize energy modeling and hygrothermal studies to inform architectural recommendations and improvements.

Projects of all scales, and both new construction and renovation, benefit from a whole building life cycle assessment to track and reduce the embodied carbon associated with the intervention, taking a holistic view of carbon accounting.

Select Projects

We have had the pleasure of collaborating on the projects listed below. Are you looking for a partner to help with your decarbonization pursuits? Please contact us so we can review how we can meet your goals together!

Amherst College
Brandeis University
Smith College
Tufts University
Wellesley College

Energy Case Studies


If you have a project in mind, we would be happy to have a chat about how we can make that happen.