Tim Greening, Assoc. AIA, WELL AP, is a Senior Planner at Spectorgroup. He is responsible for creating and shepherding the graphic realization of our clients’ vision from early-stage decision making to completion. He drives the development of project graphics during the business development cycle and serves a fairly wide-range of roles depending on the project.
He is also WELL AP certified and responsible for guiding clients through the process of following Health and Wellness standards that meet their vision of a space that has a positive impact on the occupants within the building.
- What drove you to pursue this field? I’ve always enjoyed architecture as well as making and building things. I also wanted to have a positive impact on others, even from a young age. As I grew, I began to enjoy the idea of maybe having a positive impact on others through the built environment. Originally, I believed that pursuing a degree in Architecture might have been slightly out of reach for myself, so I went down a path that led to a degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing. After graduating and spending some time in the marketing industry, I noticed that I really enjoyed doing branding work and collaborating with the Graphic Designers at my digital marketing firm. Working with those on the creative side relit my interest in pursuing a degree in Architecture. I wanted to merge my creativity and critical analysis with my passion for architecture and desire to impact others, so I decided to return to school. For the same reason I wanted to have a positive impact on others, I decided to obtain the WELL AP credential.
I believe that we should strive to increase the positive impacts our buildings have on occupants from a performance aspect, not solely from visual, spatial, and tactile designs. In this new age I believe we are heading into a world where we can marry beautiful, artistic spaces with functional, healthy building technologies that allow our buildings to perform for the occupants; leading the occupants to have a happier, healthier outlook on themselves, their work, and their built environment, thereby helping to create a more positive world.
- How would you define your own design style? I prefer a style called regionalism which emphasizes the locality of a building and blending that space with the culture and traditions of its region. I enjoy adding modernist touches and using wood and timber because it’s both sustainable and aesthetically pleasing at the same time. You could say it’s an overarching style, but the goal is ultimately about the building’s performance from a visual and sustainable standpoint. The end goal is to make sure a space functions efficiently without wasting space or sacrificing aesthetic appeal to create a high-performing space.
- Can you go into regionalism a bit more? Any examples that come to mind that you’ve worked on? My thesis in school focused on critical regionalism. Basically our projects were located all across Oaxaca, Mexico and I focused on artisans that were crafting out of clay. So, we traveled down there and for this project, my goal was to create a live-work situation for a family of local artisans. It had to capture the community, their job and their spirit. We used local materials which included clay to make bricks and each of the different components of their home. The aim was to give the family a strong connection to their home by giving them license to utilize their skills to impact the home they lived and worked in as well as showcase their work. Conceptually, this would help drive the structure to fit within the buildings around it. That’s what regionalism is all about; ensuring that the building is not out of place within the community. So, in contrast to universalism – which is creating a building that could be dropped anywhere in the world and still be the same – regionalism aims to ground a building within a place. You take the local context and start from there.
- What would be your dream project to work on? For me it would be a net-zero or passive house mountain home. Something where you can fit within the landscape and the local context to play off of historical building techniques with a modern style to create something beautiful and sustainable. Passive house and Net-Zero standards in the US provide us a higher bar to reach and offer a greater challenge for a designer to build a high-performance space. Those standards allow us to create something that’s really to the utmost quality in building performance. And I keep bringing up performance, but it’s so important – everything we create needs to not only reduce its impact on the environment, but also perform for its occupants.
- How do you approach sustainability broadly and how does it inform your decision making? Well, obviously we’re seeing more and more people realizing that the construction industry has a massive impact on the environment and over the last few years we’ve emphasized healthy materials and occupant health to a greater degree. We spend 90% of our time indoors in the modern world, so we need to develop spaces that do not negatively impact us. We also need to focus on building sustainability because, ultimately, we need to ensure that we have a world to still build in for the future. As an industry we’re moving in the right direction which is the good news, but we can always do more. Health and wellness in the built environment is becoming our number one priority and we’ve certainly emphasized that at Spectorgroup.
In Health and Wellness we have to be cognizant of all aspects of material and systems selection. For interior spaces there is an awareness of how one space will impact another; it becomes a holistic approach. We are driven by our social responsibility to select materials and systems that are rooted in environmental or healthy building principles.
How has the pandemic played a role in all this? How has it affected you both personally and professionally? The pandemic has impacted the way that I approach my work on a few levels. From the standpoint of day-to-day work, I have started to rethink my footprint in terms of paper usage. I have become even more reliant on utilizing technology (tablet, etc.) to markup drawings and reduce paper use. If we can minimize the impact on raw materials in certain production streams then we can reduce waste coming from those products, while also potentially shifting the use of the raw materials into sustainable product streams that last longer, especially within the construction industry. Personally, I have realized that I am just as effective, and many times prefer, to work from home. Initially I wasn’t sure how working remotely would affect a creative industry such as ours, but many tasks can still be completed, both in the design and production sides of the business, just as effectively. Some tasks are still tougher to complete without the in-person collaboration that occurs within the industry throughout the progression of a project. The pandemic has also fundamentally shifted our industry. We are seeing shifts in downsizing of workspaces as more and more employees are continuing to work remotely. With this shift, we need to begin bringing the concepts of WELL and LEED, that tend to be more prevalent in larger, commercial projects, into the home. It should be important that people working from home have access to the same level of care as their contemporaries in an office. There are inherent cost implications that may be difficult to overcome, but at the very least, the more information that is provided to remote workers the more we can empower them to create spaces that positively impact themselves.
I think it is also important to consider the fact that employers are more open to the new protocols brought about by the coronavirus. Some of these are principles that are featured in the WELL Standard and similar health and wellness guidelines. The pandemic has brought to light the importance of creating a healthy, more comfortable place for employees to come to.