David Baker Architects

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by Erin Feher
California Home + Design Magazine
Green Behind The Scenes

September 2008


Meetings are held outside to take advantage of the daylight.

From alfresco meetings illuminated by the afternoon sun to companywide bike tours of project sites, David Baker makes being green look like a whole lot of fun. The San Francisco architect says he never thought there was another way: "I was raised in a solar-powered, rammed-earth house that my father built in the 1950s," says Baker, who specializes in low-income and green housing projects throughout the Bay Area. Besides the LEED-certified projects that fill the firm's portfolio, the most powerful indicator of Baker's beliefs is his office. Nearly a dozen bikes hang from the ceiling, and more lean against bike racks in the courtyard. Employees who get to work by biking, walking or taking public transit receive perks including REI gift certificates, free membership in City Car Share and the use of a newly remodeled in-office shower. The incentives have helped shave the number of drivers in the 19-person office down to 3. The kitchen is stocked with organic produce and organic coffee, and bulk foods in glass containers eliminate packaging waste. A recent overhaul of the office's lighting system, which included a switch to LED fixtures, decreased electricity usuage by 59 percent. While Baker thinks his childhood put him on the right track, he believes today's understanding of sustainablility goes deeper. "We are more sophisticated in our efforts today," he says. "Now we know it's not just about one thing, like going solar, but that all of our choices are interconnected."

Blue Star Corner is a green residential project in Emeryville.

Employee bikes hang from the office ceiling.