Joshua Gassman

Senior associate, Lord Aeck Sargent

Lord Aeck Sargent, Joshua Gassman, Living Building, Georgia Tech

Role: Design team project manager for the Living Building at Georgia Tech.

Background: Received bachelor of arts at Washington University, St. Louis, and master’s of architecture at Arizona State University. Has practiced at Lord Aeck Sargent for 17 years, focusing on a diverse range of project types with challenging sustainability criteria.

How is designing a Living Building Challenge building different from designing a LEED building? Fundamentally, LEED starts with a conventional building and tries to improve it to the greatest extent possible, whereas the Living Building Challenge starts by asking: “How do we build an ideal building?” — meaning one that is not just sustainable, but is regenerative for the environment, the economy and society. A Living Building attempts to meet that ideal within the context of current conditions. As a consequence, you get a significantly higher performing project. Another way to put it is that LEED is trying to improve on the conventional, whereas the Living Building attempts to go beyond conventional from the start.

Why are you so interested in designing buildings so that they’re more sustainable? It may sound overly dramatic, but I want to do my part to change the world for the better, and I believe you have to be the change that you want to see. So in my professional life, I’ve tried to focus on opportunities to reduce the negative impact of the built environment on society and natural resources, or in many cases to allow them to enhance each other. This project is an opportunity to put my professional practice where my mouth us — to build the most sustainable building in the Southeast.

Website: Lord Aeck Sargent.