EYP has long been committed to high-performance building design, and incorporating energy modeling into every project is part of what helped the firm secure the top spot in sustainability for the second year in a row. Tom Birdsey, AIA, EYP’s president and CEO, calls it “day one thinking.”

“We don’t let a building get to schematic design and then bring on energy modelers to analyze performance,” he says. “We have the energy modeler working hand-in-hand with the design team from the start.”

The firm uses proprietary software called NEO (Net Energy Optimizer), which assesses the implications for everything from massing to orientation to material choice. “We can sit with a set of plans with the owner or operator and analyze different bundles of materials, control systems, mechanical systems, glazing. In real time, the software can analyze how that bundle of materials performs against other bundles.”

A project on the boards at EYP
A project on the boards at EYP

EYP has also committed to post-occupancy benchmarking. “It’s great to try and predict performance, but what’s really valuable to our clients is when we can demonstrate to them that our predictive modeling makes sense,” Birdsey says. The firm now has some 15,000 buildings in a benchmarking platform called B3 and is working with the Clinton Global Initiative on a project to make university and college campuses more energy efficient. Administrators will use B3 to help them discover which buildings at their institutions have the greatest potential to realize energy savings.

The next step: proving that zero energy can be affordable. EYP partnered with SUNY Polytechnic Institute’s Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering in Albany, N.Y., to adapt a typical spec office building to zero energy (the project is now under construction). The goal is to prove that the design could be scaled and used elsewhere.

Check out the overall list to find out which firms rose to the top, and discover who made the cut in business and design. To find out how we generated the rankings, read our methodology, and take a look at some of the data submitted by firms