HOK Architecture – Building a Greener World

by Alison Lueders, Great Green Editing

We’ve made it to the tenth post in our series about local companies that have achieved the City of Tampa’s Green Business Designation. That honor goes to HOK Architecture, a global design, architecture and engineering firm founded in 1955.

HOK’s Tampa office opened in 1984 and they received their designation in 2010. In 2012, for the third year in a row, they were ranked #1 by the Design Futures Council for their leadership in sustainability.


Sustainable Practices

For HOK, sustainability is fundamental to its work with clients AND its own operations. For example, they:

  • Walk the talk in the office. In 2011, HOK launched HOK IMPACT – a firm-wide program focusing on corporate social responsibility.  HOK IMPACT seeks to promote architecture as a social work, finding ways to use design as a means of community support and empowerment.
  • Use green building guidelines. All of HOK’s projects use LEED® or BREEAM™ as green building guidelines. They incorporate basic sustainable strategies, equivalent to the LEED Certified level, at minimum, in all projects – regardless of the client’s intentions to certify the project. This is design making a difference.
  • Innovate with new information systems. HOK is integrating and promoting BIM (building information modeling) to improve quality, reduce waste and increase the energy- and resource-efficiency of their projects. HOK is currently piloting energy, daylighting and material usage modeling on new BIM projects.

 Business innovation for a warmer, wetter world

HOK has launched HOK Product Design®, LLC, to create innovative new products for the built environment. Their manufacturing partners license and sell these products to commercial and consumer markets.

One such product is the Freno Rain Garden. Freno is a wall and curbing system designed to incorporate rain gardens into urban settings. Rain gardens help to reduce run-off, improve water quality and enhance streetscapes. Municipalities across the country are struggling with the massive amounts of stormwater runoff that results from impervious surfaces associated with public and private developments (think roads, parking lots, roofs). When this runoff overloads existing water treatment plants, the often-polluted rainwater is discharged directly into our rivers, lakes and oceans. Rain gardens improve water quality by catching rainwater with plants and soil, thus reducing stormwater runoff.

Freno is manufactured with sustainability in mind. Its precast units are produced in a controlled factory environment, and all material waste is recycled. The concrete design mix uses non-toxic colorants. Using up to 8% fly ash content reduces the amount of cement used in the product.

Looking Ahead

As HOK Architecture looks ahead, their priorities include:

Energy Optimization

HOK’s  standard design process includes setting specific energy performance goals against benchmarks. To do this they:

  • analyze bioclimatic data to identify the best climate-specific strategies
  • define daylighting strategies to reduce the power required for lighting and to improve the indoor environment
  • identify building interior opportunities for load reduction
  • compare the impacts of different building massing, orientation and envelope options for new construction

This detailed analysis helps determine how to cost-effectively maximize a building’s energy efficiency.

Building Performance Analysis

HOK conducts building performance assessments of completed projects to compare actual performance against original design targets. By “closing the loop” they garner key lessons learned that improve future work and provide valuable data for analysis.

Fully Integrated Thinking

HOK is partnering with the Biomimicry Group to develop a new decision-making process called FIT – Fully Integrated Thinking. FIT uses natural systems thinking to achieve the triple bottom line of social, economic and environmental success. The FIT process establishes a concrete framework to organize, map and assign the site-specific systems, living and human, that comprise the triple bottom line. In short, FIT makes tangible the sometimes vague triple bottom line rhetoric.

For more information about the Green Business Designation Program, contact Janet Harrison at 813-470-5055.