Tools To Help You Get There

SPI’s toolkit is a little different from the typical green building tools. Sure, green products and technologies are important, but we see too many firms struggle even when they have those resources. So our focus is on the tools needed to help firms truly institutionalize sustainability in their culture, process, methodology and project delivery. Whether you are trying to fulfill your 2030 Commitment or just deliver a consistent, high quality sustainability service to your clients, our services and resources support your goals.

Some of  our resources are straightforward, like roadmaps and workplans. Others are more abstract, like change management and integrative design project management. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, contact us! We often work with companies to  develop specialized resources to fit their specific needs. Have another tool or resource you love? Let us know and we may add it to the list!

For external resources, we’ve linked to the original site wherever possible. If you discover a link is broken please contact us and we may be able to send you a pdf of the resource.

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SPI Tools & Resources

SPI has created a number of tools that can help you raise the bar in your professional practice and plot a course for continuous improvement. The Report Card, Self-assessment, Leadership Circle and web resources are all free. The SPI Assessment, Consulting Services and Green Firm Certification are available for a reasonable fee.

SPI Report Card Owners and team leaders can use our report card to rate your consultants and collaborators. Practitioners can use it as a ‘voice of the customer’ survey to get feedback on how others view your sustainability capability.

Self Assessment Our quiz gives you an objective baseline of your company’s leadership, culture, capabilities and effectiveness in delivering sustainability and aligning your operations, management and services with your sustainability goals. Solicit multiple responses from your company using the same company name and we will aggregate and send you the results!

SPI Open LinkedIn Group

SPI Leadership Circle (LinkedIn)  Request to join our national peer group of sustainability directors/leaders

SPI Blog includes articles about institutionalizing sustainability in your firm

Alternative Team Member Interview Process

Mility How to map your project delivery processes and re-design them to achieve better outcomes and higher performance

SPI Assessment reviews your firm and provides gap analysis with recommendations. SPI Consulting goes beyond assessment to fill the gaps and improve your performance. Green Firm Certification provides 3rd party validation that your firm can deliver consistent, high quality sustainability services

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Architecture 2030

Buildings are the major source of global demand for energy and materials that produce by-product greenhouse gases (GHG). Slowing these emissions is critical to address climate change.  Architecture 2030 set clear targets for new and existing buildings in order to reach net zero by the year 2030. The AIA has partnered with A2030 and firms sign a commitment to track their progress and report annually. As part of the commitment, firms submit their sustainability plans. Those can be downloaded on their site. We have provided links in the next section to the plans we thought were exemplary.

Architecture 2030 website All you need to know about 2030.

2030 Implementation Guidelines: A Resource for Firms and Organizations Adopting

The 2030 Challenge

AIA 2030 Commitment page AIA’s program in support of 2030.

AIA 2030 reporting tool

AIA’s report on the 2030 program Results of the reporting data from participating firms, including, for the first time, data on energy use by specific project type and size. Individual Sustainability reports of participating firms  (link is at the bottom of the page for download.) See also our list below of Sustainability Plans and Reports for some of our favorites.

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Climate Change, Resiliency, Adaptation and Planning

Severe weather events cause major damage to buildings and infrastructure. Corporations, institutions and cities around the US are finally beginning to answer the question,” What do we need to do to protect our resources and plan for the future?” The science of climate change and grassroots initiatives

Regenerative Cities by Herbert Girardet, an in-depth case study applying regenerative design to a city in Australia.

Boston’s Climate Plan

BUILDING RESILIENCE IN BOSTON: “Best Practices” for Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience for Existing Buildings

A stronger, more resilient New York

PlaNYC 2011 chapter on Climate Change

GSA Climate Adaptation Plan

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Strategic Sustainability Planning: Corporate Reports & Plans

Strategic sustainability planning is necessary in some form to achieve specific and measurable goals. Some organizations have published their plans or reports of their progress, either stand-alone or as part of 2030, GRI or other reporting structure. Below are samples of some good ones. If you are beginning your sustainability strategic planning process, the reports are as good to review as the plans. The reports also share the structure, strategies and metrics firms are using to chart a course for continuous improvement.


Pathways to Sustainability: A Comprehensive Strategic Planning Model for Achieving Environmental Sustainability

The Ceres Roadmap for Sustainability CERES roadmap is a detailed guideline for institutionalizing sustainability within a corporation. CERES’ website also has an extensive Resources page with a wide variety of content relating to different aspects of corporate sustainability.

Collections of plans and reports

GRI report database (and an intro to how it works)

Index of AIA 2030 company reports

And some specific ones that are good models:

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Leadership, Change Management, Communication & Influence

Coming up with strategies to implement sustainability is easy; implementing those strategies effectively – that’s where failure happens! Any change in an organization has to be intentional and thoughtful – cultivating leadership at many levels is important, understanding how to communicate is critical and developing strategies that incorporate the fundamental tactics of change management will make or break you. The resources below can help. SPI also provides coaching and consulting in real-time to help you achieve success.

Change Management

Leading Change, John Kotter, (Harvard Business School Press, Boston, 1996). An absolute MUST read for anyone trying to lead change in their organization.

Kotter’s blog, summary, 8 Step Change Model, and How to create a sense of urgency around your initiative.

SPI blog series: Putting the Management Back in Charge, ties Kotter’s principles to the A/E/C industry (for the full blog post, click here).

How to execute a gap analysis by Mind Tools™

How to facilitate a current/future discussion as a part of a strategic process —coming soon

Resolving Social Conflicts and Field Theory in Social Science by Lewin, Kurt (Dec 13, 2010). Lewin’s force field is a model for overcoming resistence and analyzing where to put your energy

Mapping Sustainability to Services Exercise–coming soon

Timesheets change management case study–coming soon

Force field analysis tool from Mind Tools

Another force field analysis tool from Change Management Consultant

Haworth: An Introduction to Competing Values Framework

Organizational culture and the success of corporate sustainability initiatives: An empirical analysis using the Competing Values Framework By Liz Abbett, Anna Coldham, Ryan Whisnant (ERB Institute, 2010)

Communications skils

Negotiation skills are really the basis for effective communication skills. The following books and links provide wonderful content that can help you be a more effective.

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert B. Cialdini, Ph.D. (Quill, NY, 1984, revised 1993)

Getting to Yes, Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, Roger Fisher, William Ury and Bruce Patton, (Penguin Books, NY, 1981 and 1991)

Getting Past No, Negotiating Your Way from Confrontation to Cooperation, William Ury (Bantam Books, NY, 1991 and 1993)

Difficult Conversations, Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton and Sheila Heen, (Viking, NY, 1999)

Secrets of Power Negotiating, Roger Dawson, (Career Press, NJ, 2001)

Beyond Reason, Roger Fisher, Daniel Shapiro, (Penguin Books, NY, 2006)

Mindtools resources on Negotiation, Persuasion and Influence


Leadership skills are critical for people throughout an organization, especially those who want to lead any form of change (including “leading from the middle”).

The Leadership Challenge, James Kouzes and Barry Posner, (Jossey Bass, San Francisco, 2007)

Zapp! The Lightning of Empowerment, William Byham, Jeff Cox, (Ballantine, NY, 1988)

Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman, (Bantam Books, NY, 1995)

Primal Leadership: Learning to lead with emotional intelligence, Goleman, Daniel et al., (Harvard Business School Press, Boston, 2002)

The 360 Degree Leader: Developing Your Influence from Anywhere in the Organization by Maxwell, John C. (Oct 18, 2011)

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Design methodology, Integrative Design Process (IDP) & Integrated Project Delivery (IPD)

Design methodology is the unsung hero of green building. The effectiveness of team collaboration, analysis and critical path decision-making has more impact on cost than any single technology or strategy. Yet, highly collaborative, integrative design is rarely implemented and makes most practitioners uncomfortable. Most firms think that the eco-charrette or LEED charrette at the kick-off IS IDP, when actually it is one small piece of a longer project management process. Below are some resources that lay out what IDP really looks like.

The Integrative Design Guide to Green Building: Redefining the Practice of Sustainability, 7group and Bill Reed

Jerry Yudelson’s website (Yudelson Associates) includes both books and free resources

Stantec presentation on Integrated Design

Roadmap For the Integrated Design Process, Busby Perkins+Will and Stantec Consulting White Paper (2007)

ANSI/MTS 1.0 Whole Systems Integrated Process Guide (WSIP)-2007 for Sustainable Buildings & Communities

Integrated Design Process: A Guideline for Sustainable and Solar-Optimised Building Design, International Energy

Mapping Project Delivery to Sustainability: Directions for Implementation. How to map your project delivery processes and re-design them to achieve better outcomes and higher performance (SPI)

Sample IDP Workplan – coming soon

Autodesk AEC Headquarters IPD Project Story and Metropolis Magazine article on the project

Integrated Project Delivery: A Guide, AIA National and AIA California Council (2009)

Integrated Project Delivery: Reality and Promise by Ted Sive (2009)

Harvard University Office for Sustainability guide for project team members to adopt integrated design for cost effective green building innovations.

A Guide for Architects on integrating energy modeling into practice (AIA)

RTKL’s DART interactive tool to guide designers toward Performance-Driven DesignSM

Integrating Energy Engineering & Performance Modeling into the Design Process (Better Bricks)

The Partnering Solution by Bill Ronco (Career Press, 2005). Partnering, a methodology born in the construction industry, includes practical steps to enhance any team relationship and achieve better performance and cost control, regardless of whether your team follows a formal partnering process or not.


Mike Davis, FAIA exhorts us to get it done

Randy Deutsch, AIA blogs about BIM and integrated design

Life at HOK includes Biomimicry, sustainable design and change management categories

SPI Blog contains articles about institutionalizing sustainability in your firm

Cultural engagement

WeSpire (formerly Practically Green) is a tool for engage employees of large firms in sustainability and social responsibility

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Frameworks and Rating Systems

Frameworks have been developed to answer the question, “what is green building/sustainability?”. Many times these frameworks are misused as substitute for systems thinking and sustainable design. The best use of these tools is to open the dialogue and define the critical questions that need to be asked. Then Natural Step is a great tool to use before taking out a LEED checklist! The Living Building Challenge goes beyond LEED to design towards the future we want. Other lesser-known frameworks such as Envision address civil engineering and large scale planning and infrastructure development.

2030 Commitment ( See Architecture 2030, above)

Project-based systems:

Natural Step (system conditions) The Natural Step is comprised of four guiding principles. This is a simple, yet holistic approach to thinking about flows and systems. We highly recommend beginning any project by thinking through the Natural Step framework before taking out a LEED checklist!

Living Building Challenge sets the bar for radical transformation. LBC goes beyond ‘less bad’ to define what health, regenerative buildings look like. Check out the projects around the country and see what success looks like.

Envision addresses large scale planning and infrastructure, the life blood of communities.

GreenGuide for Healthcare has a unique set of complex conditions and performance standards. GGHC was developed over the years to specifically address the healthcare context.

The Sustainable Sites Initiative™ (SITE) is an interdisciplinary effort by the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin and the United States Botanic Garden to create voluntary national guidelines and performance benchmarks for sustainable land design, construction and maintenance practices.

The Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) focuses on the specific conditions that are posed by the K-12 school environment. These technical guidelines have been adopted and customized by different states.

BREEAM, based in the UK, was the first green building rating system, preceding LEED

The USGBC’s LEED program is essentially a “green building code” and defines the standards for performance in different building types.

Organization-based systems:

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is a platform for corporate sustainability reporting, with categories tailored to specific sectors.

B Corps are certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.

CERES coalition members use the CERES Roadmap as a guide to institutionalizing sustainability within their corporations.

JUST™, the International Living Future Institute’s new social justice transparency platform

How SPI Certification compares to other rating systems

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Technical Tools & Resources

Institutionalizing sustainability within an organization relies on leadership, culture and process, but also on the consistent use of tools for research and analysis for decision making. Below are some of the key tools we recommend for different purposes.

Building Green Research on products, case studies, interviews and more and Greenspec, BuildingGreen’s green building product site

LEEDuser is the best resource for tapping expertise of leading practitioners and best practices and making your documentation process easier!

Pharos Lens The only source of trusted information and transparency about product contents. Pharos and its sponsor, HealthyBuildingNetwork, can be relied upon for the information you need to make healthy decisions.

D-profiler This tool enables very early analysis and decision making from project planning through massing and design.

EVAtool This cloud-based environmental management tool integrates internal knowledge and experience with case studies and outside resources.

Lorax Pro: LEED project management tool.

Harvard University Life Cycle Costing (LCC) Calculator

Powering the Future of Healthcare: Financial and Operational Resilience: A Combined Heat and Power Guide for Massachusetts Hospital Decision-Makers, Boston Green Ribbon Commission

U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

New Buildings Institute has resources on high performance building, benchmarking and more.

Sustainable Building Technical Manual by Public Technology, Inc. (a classic from 1996–still worthwhile)

Whole Building Design Guide. Building-related information with a “whole building” focus provided by the National Institute of Building Sciences

A Guide for Architects on Integrating Energy Modeling into Practice (AIA)

Integrating Energy Engineering & Performance Modeling into the Design Process (Better Bricks)

Tally™ Environmental Impact Tool is a Revit application that allows architects and engineers to quantify the environmental impact of building materials for whole building analysis as well as comparative analyses of design options.

Carbon Footprinting Build Carbon Neutral’s web based tool helps developers, builders, architects and land planners estimate the net carbon emissions of their projects

Carbon Disclosure Project ‎includes reports, scoring methodologies and more

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