Sustainability at ARO

Leadership in Sustainable Design

We have demonstrated leadership at all scales of sustainable design with a particular focus on urban climate change adaptation. From overall planning for energy efficiency and daylight to the careful selection of systems and materials, our goal is to weave sustainability into the larger architectural identity of each project.

lower Manhattan with proposed landscape buffer

Our research and design in the field of urban climate change adaptation has been internationally recognized as a new paradigm for a beneficial relationship between cities and the waters that surround them. In “A New Urban Ground,” commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art in New York, our project with DLANDstudio reconceived public space for lower Manhattan in response to climate change. Transforming the streetscape and waterfront through an “ecological infrastructure,” the project proposed an entirely new relationship between the city and nature.

We work closely with industry leaders in sustainable design to identify performance goals to support our design process, including reducing energy and carbon emissions, water use, utilizing sustainable materials, amplifying indoor environmental quality, and occupant / user comfort.

Our collaboration with Reed Hilderbrand on Long Dock Park was rated three stars from the Sustainable Sites Initiative.

Most of ARO’s recent and current projects target LEED and/or WELL Building Standard certification, including the mass timber Milgard Hall and the Education and Welcome Center at The Green-Wood Cemetery, both targeting LEED-Gold certification. We have also implemented innovative approaches to improve energy efficiency, such as an ultra-low energy and low-cost housing prototype certified Passive House in Syracuse, NY, and the current design of 100 Flatbush, a new primary and high school building in Downtown Brooklyn, which will be the first certified Passive House NYC public school.

Section detailing sustainability strategies and educational program elements of the Launch School building
Sustainability strategies and educational program elements of the Launch School building.

We know that sustainability applies to the full social, economic, and environmental wellbeing of communities and is not limited to the criteria involved in green building certifications. At Floyd Bennett Field, we are reimagining the former Brooklyn airfield as a net-zero campus for Launch Charter School’s new anti-racist high school to advance equity and sustainability. We are collaborating with SCAPE and Colloqate on the design that will include a three-acre farm to combat food insecurity, and that will feature a high-performance envelope and solar energy generation.

Climate change and environmental degradation are existential threats and we take our responsibility as designers and educators seriously in shaping sustaining, inclusive, equitable spaces.

Office Initiatives
Photo of two people looking at material samples in a daylit office
Materials Working Group
Zero-Waste Initiative
ARO at the 2019 Climate Strike