Enriching the experience of those who occupy the buildings and spaces we create is the foundation of our design approach.


Sustainable Design

Green design strategies that create healthy indoor environments, promote energy and water use efficiency, and provide long-term value are central to our design approach. Our staff includes LEED and WELL Accredited Professionals and we are proud to be part of the ongoing dialogue about best practices in sustainable design through our participation in the AIA 2030 Commitment and Living Products 50. We are committed to designing responsive solutions that are appropriate to each project’s unique context and programmatic goals.

AIA 2030 Commitment

MDS is a signatory of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) 2030 Commitment. This program seeks to reduce fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions of the built environment by tracking energy usage. As part of the 2030 Commitment, MDS confidentially reports energy performance projections of each project to the national AIA 2030 Design Data Exchange (DDx) database. This focus on performance helps us identify best practices and anonymously compare performance metrics of MDS projects and others. We developed a framework to define goals—such as Predicted Energy Use Intensity (PEUI)—for each project type as it aligns with the 2030 Commitment. The following charts describe our progress towards meeting the initiative's goals.


AIA 2030 Design Data Exchange (DDx)

91 Projects and 1,409,119 GSF included in analysis.
Interior-Only Projects: 78 projects and 576,872 GSF included in analysis.
Non-Residential and Residential Projects: 13 projects and 832,247 GSF included in analysis.


Integrated Design Process

We encourage an integrated design process that brings all stakeholders and experts around the table early in the process. Typically, we have a green design charrette to establish project goals. We then map out a work plan and assign responsibilities for meeting building performance targets and other project goals. We review passive strategies, such as daylighting, envelope thermal improvements, and occupant comfort, while evaluating mechanical system options. Energy modeling and Life-Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA) are typically done at the end of schematic design to evaluate mechanical system options in greater detail. As a best practice we use certifications such as the USGBC LEED Rating Systems and Well Building Standard to guide some of the goals in the early phases. 

Harvard Business Publishing Headquarters Green Design Charrette

Harvard Business Publishing Headquarters Green Design Charrette


MDS stands for transparency in the health and environmental impacts of building products and materials and is a Living Product 50 Member.

Massachusetts College of Art and Design Kennedy Campus Center Renovation and Expansion LEED-Gold certified

Massachusetts College of Art and Design
Kennedy Campus Center Renovation and Expansion
LEED-Gold certified

Material Selection + Specification

Enriching the experience of those who will occupy the buildings and spaces we create is our primary design goal. This influences our approach to material selection, ventilation, and daylighting strategies, among many other factors. Our in-house Specifications Team continually researches and updates our standards with green materials. In evaluating new materials, we review the chemical composition to limit usage of materials that contain chemicals of environmental or health concern, or products that have unvetted, third-party certifications. MDS is a member of the Living Product 50 (LP50), a collaboration of leading manufacturers working to ensure that healthy, high performing building materials with full ingredient transparency are the rule, not the exception.

Resiliency Planning

As architects and planners working with clients in Boston and the greater New England region, we understand our region is vulnerable to sea level rise, increasing intensity of storm events, rising temperatures, and other impacts of climate change. We are committed to providing high-performance buildings that are flexible and respond to these external stresses. While each project is site- and place-specific, we evaluate structure and system types and placement so they can withstand climate events and our buildings can provide shelter in the event of a disaster. Our collaborative design teams work to provide buildings that contribute to resiliency and provide a positive transformation to the built environment, while also creating new landscape amenities for public use. 


Boston University, Myles Standish Hall Renovation, anticipated LEED Gold certification

Boston University, Myles Standish Hall Renovation, anticipated LEED Gold certification



Culture of Sustainability

Our commitment to the principles of sustainable design extends beyond our project work. We strive to continually improve our green practices in the firm — from replacing computers and other equipment with more energy-efficient models to using green cleaning products, and encouraging staff to pursue healthy and sustainable commutes to our office and project sites. 


If you have visited our office, you know MDS is a community of passionate bicyclists and active commuters. The firm and individual staff members participate in a range of organizations and groups that encourage safe and sustainable transportation options in the Boston area and beyond, including Green Streets Initiative and MassCommute Bicycle Challenge, among others. For the second year in a row, MDS was recognized by Green Streets Initiative as its Walk/Ride Day Corporate Challenge winner. The firm also received the 2015 Biking Tourney Enthusiasm Award from the MIT Changing Places Group, a collaboration between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab and Austrian Institute of Technology.