What Sustainability Means To Us

Throughout history, architecture has responded to its surroundings through styles and movements which have embraced the various aspects of the time. It is a continual expression of the cultures and values which shape and progress our civilization. Today, we face the challenges of a diminishing environment and exponential population growth. With solutions to these challenges clearly ahead, it is crucial that sustainable design and practices are both implemented and advanced to improve the natural environment and maintain our quality of life.

VIA design not only recognizes, but understands the sustainable movement and aims to be a leader within it. Designing with sustainable practices in mind
is the core value of our firm. Through continual learning, we are evolving the practice of architecture in a way that is holistic, firm-wide, project based, and data-driven.

With advances in the tools we use, we are able to prioritize energy performance, test design decisions before implementation, and provide accurate data to back them up. As a result, we design projects which continually improve in efficiency, comfort, longevity, and financial health while providing positive contributions to both the built and natural environments.

The Essex
Rear of Building from Above Reservoir
Essex from the corner of Bank and Plume
Thoroughgood Elementary_Project Card Standard
ESSL Flood
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Making the Commitment

 “The urban built environment is responsible for 75% of annual global GHG emissions: buildings alone account for 39%. Eliminating these emissions is the key to addressing climate change.” 1 

“The mission of the American Institute of Architects 2030 Commitment is to support the 2030 Challenge and transform the practice of architecture in a way that is holistic, firm-wide, project based, and data-driven. By prioritizing energy performance, VIA is actively working toward carbon neutral buildings, developments and major renovations by 2030.” 2 

As a data-driven initiative, the 2030 Challenge encourages firms to engage in iterative energy modeling throughout the entire design process and voluntarily share the predicted energy use intensity results on the AIA’s Design Data Exchange. This process of experimentation, discovery, and sharing brings greater understanding of the effects of various early-phase design decisions on energy use. The results are more thoughtful, intentional buildings designed to perform better while using less energy.  

VIA is currently one of approximately 400 Architecture, Engineering, and Planning firms have adopted the 2030 Commitment. If you’re interested in joining us as a signatory, you can learn more about the 2030 Commitment through and, and more about how to get started energy modeling by reading our Architect’s Field Guide to Energy Modeling. 

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Sustainable Action Plan

Defining what ‘sustainability’ means is a critical first step to make impactful change in the design and construction industry.  VIA has worked for several years to bring clarity to our beliefs in sustainability, set a course for action, and establish our goals and targets.  Our definition of sustainability has shed light on the most important factors that we intend to address, and serves as a point of reference upon which we measure the progress of your efforts.  Through this process we have learned a great deal about ourselves and intend to continue our own evolution through research, experimentation, and practice.  As a statement of our commitment to the continual improvement of the built environment, we have created and publicly posted our Sustainable Action Plan.

Click here to view our Sustainable Action Plan

Framework for Design Excellence

Sustainability is about much more than just energy usage. It is a wholistic approach to design for the future. The most sustainable designs withstand the test of time, provide flexible uses and adapt to change. They bring good design to every person who visits them and serve as the backdrop for strong communities. 

VBP+R - Geothermal

Geothermal Well Field @ Virginia Beach Parks+Rec

Thoroughgood Elementary - Rainwater

Rainwater Capture and Retention @ Thoroughgood Elementary

VBP+R - Daylighting

Daylighting Study @ Virginia Beach Parks+Rec

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The AIA’s Framework for Design Excellence represents the defining principles of good design in the 21st century. VIA considers opportunities to maximize the 10 principles at the onset of every project and incorporates each into the work as appropriate to the project scope: 

  1. Integration, 
  2. Equitable Communities,  
  3. Ecosystems,  
  4. Water,  
  5. Economy,  
  6. Energy,  
  7. Well Being,  
  8. Resources,  
  9. Change, and  
  10. Discovery 


VIA design strives to harness the power of design to contribute impactful solutions that address the most significant needs of our time. Architects’ greatest contributions are brought forward on every project through creative solutions that address real-world problems, resulting in functional, resilient structures that withstand the test of time. 

The Framework for Design Excellence provides a strong framework for creating truly sustainable projects that support diverse communities, provide uplifting buildings for occupant well-being, maximize the use of resources, and adapt for the future. 

Green Building Certifications and Recognition

Numerous certification programs exist for green buildings and site developments. The number of programs continues to grow as organizations seek to achieve their own idea of sustainability. VIA relishes every opportunity to pursue certifications and leaps at the challenge to design to the rigorous requirements of each program. Below is our proven experience with some of these programs: 

Our team brings documented experience with multiple certified projects, including:  

  • LEED Certification – Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation 
  • EarthCraft Multifamily Platinum Certification – Church Street Station Studios 
  • EarthCraft Multifamily Platinum Certification – Cypress Landing 
  • EarthCraft Multifamily Platinum Certification – Crescent Square 
  • EarthCraft Platinum Certification – The Essex 

We are currently in pursuit of certification on multiple projects, including: 

  • LEED Certification – The Essex (VIA’s home),  
  • LEED Gold – Thoroughgood Elementary School 
  • LEED Silver – VIMS Visitor Center 
  • LEED Silver – VIMS Administration Center. 

VIA has lead the pilot program for Viridiant’s Sustainable Preservation certification: 

  • EarthCraft Sustainable Preservation Pilot Program – The Essex 

VIA’s site planning and Landscape Architecture has achieved certifications for several projects, including VIMS Wachapreague site. 

VIA has also been recognized for our efforts by:

  • Viridiant Building Sustainability Conference Award (Commercial)  | The Essex
  • Virginia Energy Efficiency Leadership Award | The Essex
  • U.S. Green Building Council Virginia Leadership Award for Virginia Environments | Virginia Beach Parks+Rec
  • Virginia Beach Planning Commission Honor Award for Sustainable Design | Landscape Architecture @ TCC Learning Resource Center