Design Ecology

"In hot climates, the cooling affect of green roofs can improve solar panel performance by up to 35%."
"Vegetative architectural systems can reduce membrane temperatures by 90ºF, reducing energy for cooling by 30%."
"Green roofs capture and slow the flow of rainwater, significantly reducing impact to stormwater conveyance systems."
"Sea levels are predicted to rise twice as fast as was forecast by the United Nations only two years ago."
"Water scarcity occurs even in areas where there is plenty of rainfall or freshwater."
"Cities are facing increasing challenges dealing with infill from rural areas, outdated infrastructure and budget shortfalls."
"82% of the U.S. population live in a city, that number continues to grow."
"An investment of $11.3 billion per year is needed to meet the drinking water and sanitation target of the Millenium Development Goals."
"Natural systems cannot keep up with the speed and intensity of the impacts of development and urbanization."
"735 species of plants and 496 species of animals are listed as threatened or endangered."
"Utilizing technologically enhanced products and strategies, designers can elevate ecosystem function to a rate that enables system processing to meet the needs of the new industrial ecology."
"A fully integrated design approach can result in the building itself becoming an engineered but highly functioning ecosystem component."
"This concept of restorative architecture promotes air handling, water processing, habitat creation, sequestration of carbon, food production, the treatment of toxins and heavy metals, and the production of energy to all occur seamlessly within an integrated building."



In an era of resource scarcity, global climate crisis, and failing civic infrastructure, new development and infrastructure projects must be efficient, reliable, resilient, and ultimately regenerative. Natural systems are under strain to support urban populations and absorb associated downstream impacts. Our interventions provide a rigorous, metric-based approach to passively attenuating human impact by reintroducing ecology and related benefits to the built environment. What we are discovering, and research is conclusively supporting, is that putting nature back into our cities helps them operate better by a factor of nearly 30%. We invite you to engage our experienced team of professionals to make your project part of the solution.

living roofs

The benefits of green roofs are many, including building performance, sequester carbon, stormwater control, habitat, agriculture, urban heat island, noise control, air and water filtration, accessible outdoor space, and aesthetic enhancement. Perhaps the most tangible is the extension of membrane life. Roofing membranes typically degrade due to UV exposure, temperature fluctuation, and physical damage. All of these impacts are mitigated by green roof systems, and the major US membrane manufacturers offer warrantees of equal or greater value to conventional systems.

living walls

Vertical vegetation systems on structure provide many of the same benefits as green roofs, with the ability to improve building performance and provide civic benefit in the form of infrastructure, habitat, and climate. Living Walls are more specialized, and offer some very unique opportunities. For indoor use, studies by NASA and others conclusively show the ability of vegetation to condition indoor air, removing and metabolizing toxic airborn Volatile Oganic Compounds (VOC's) such as formaldehyde, tulomene, and benzene in addition to converting CO2 to Oxygen. Wall systems can also be designed to filter wastewater, provide habitat, or grow food in tandem with building function such as cooling and noise reduction.

living pools

The health and environmental risks associated with the manufacture, transport, and use of chlorine and other disinfection agents are well known. Natural Swimming Pools are a chemical free, wetland-based approach to swimming pool filtration developed in Austria during the 1980s. This approach quickly spread to Germany, France, and England and during the 1990's became known throughout most of the world. Today, more than 10,000 such pools utilize this solution for private and public pools worldwide. The US has been slow to adopt the technology, but the idea is catching on and we've been involved in the design of six natural swimming pools to date. We appreciate the ability to integrate swimming areas into natural settings, provide a wetland element to the swimming experience, and provide chemical-free water bodies with habitat value. Living Pools do not provide habitat for mosquitos or other pests, are generally not recommended for use with fish, and are fabulous refuges for native frogs and turtles!


Cities across the US and abroad are experiencing sever stormwater infrastructure failures, resulting in flooding and untreated Combined Sewer Overflows (CSO's) into natural water bodies. With cost prohibitive upgrade requirements, infrastructure managers are looking for stormwater reduction solutions and leveraging developers with increasingly stringent requirements. It is unnatural for rainfall to be rapidly conveyed to pipe infrastructure. Our passive, often vegetated solutions slow down, retain, reuse, and infiltrate stormwater as a functional component of site and structure. This water can be simply slowed down to allow pipes to move water over a longer period of time to prevent flooding, or used to cool buildings, irrigate, flush toilets, and support local ecology.

rain harvesting

Rainwater is appropriate for a variety of uses including laundry, toilet flushing, wash water, and irrigation. Rainwater can be a reliable supply, providing about 600 gallons per inch of rainfall for each 1000 square feet of collection area. At this rate, a 2000 square foot home in San Francisco is capable of capturing up to 50,000 gallons of water from the roof alone! Our team assesses conservation, efficiency, climate, storage capacity, filtration needs, and distribution to provide effective low-maintenance on site water supply.

graywater reuse

As worldwide pressures force difficult decisions with finite water resources, there is no good reason to utilize valuable potable water for such uses such as irrigation and toilet flushing. Design Ecology applies package systems, low-tech gravity flow irrigation, and sophisticated technical solutions to provide reuse of household water such as baths, showers, and sinks at minimum capital and maintenance expense. With first permits in six jurisdictions, our experienced team can help navigate local regulation to design an effective and code compliant solution.

local food systems

Food eaten in the US travels an average of 1,700 miles before reaching our tables. This increasing trend results in a large environmental impact, poor quality of fresh goods, compromised local enonomies, and vulnerable food supply chain. Culturally the result is disconnection from a basic understanding of how food is created and the people who have dedicated their lives to providing our basic sustenance on a daily basis. Incorporating local food systems into design provides functional solutions for a fresh, resilient food supply while reconnecting people with their food and local agricultural communities. Our expertise includes Building-Integrated Sustainable Agriculture (B-ISA) solutions such as rooftop and wall production systems, hydroponics, organic farm masterplans, value-added branding, site production systems to meet demand, edible schoolyards, and backyard homesteading.

sustainable landscapes

With roots in Landscape Architecture and licensed Landscape Architects on staff, Design Ecology provides sustainable landscape design to a limited clientele when there is an intent to integrate our solutions into a comprehensive site system. Our team enjoys the creative process and the application of form into outdoor experience that subtly informs and empowers the user to engage with site function. Permaculture, Systems Thinking, and a love of the outdoors and outdoor living inform our process. Our portfolio of ecological schoolyards, organic agriculture masterplans, public spaces, and residential landscapes are evidence of our 20 year commitment to environmental sustainability.

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