Texan by Nature is excited to recognize Overland Partners as a 2023 TxN 20 honoree for their leadership in conservation and sustainability. Overland Partners’ commitment to conservation, their projects, programs, best practices, and lessons learned are an example and inspiration for us all.
Honoree Industry and Size: Architecture, Design & Development–Small
Founded in 1987, Overland has built an international creative community of talented problem-solvers who bring a global approach to architecture, master planning, and urban design. From our offices in San Antonio, Dallas, Denver and New York, we have been fortunate to work in places of cultural and natural importance across the United States and multiple other countries. Our approach to sustainable design brings our clients’ wisdom to center stage to see their aspirations realized. Through a rigorous, collaborative process, we allow it to guide and reveal the highest and best potential of our clients’ visions, creating innovative, equitable solutions for our projects. Sensitive to the environmental and aesthetic contexts of our projects, we thoughtfully integrate technology, materials, art, and craft to create places worthy of affection. An internationally award-winning TSA Firm of the Year and Architect Top 50 Firm, Overland’s work has received more than 200 international, national, regional, and local design awards and has been published in numerous national and international publications.
Overland believes the best solutions are born out of collaboration and understanding that bring their clients’ wisdom to center stage.
What is Overland Partner’s conservation and sustainability mission and why is it important to your culture? Overland was founded in 1987 with the mission to positively influence the world through our practices of architecture, master planning and urban design. A values-based firm, we aim to exercise and hold true to our purpose of unlocking the embedded potential through design that cares for the Earth and creates places where people and communities flourish. We understand the direct impact our projects have on the natural environment and the health and well-being of people. At the enterprise level and individually, we are committed to being good stewards of the Earth, its resources, and its people. Guided by our ethos and commitment to high-performing, regenerative design that promotes measurable human transformation, we pioneered The Human Handprint™, our methodology based on the five pillars of Aspiration, Inspiration, Relationships, Stewardship and Well-Being. The Human Handprint is the outward expression of our values and behaviors in practice. It is our vehicle for collaboration and bringing the best thinking, ideas and solutions forward for design. Over the past 36 years, Overland has built a diverse, creative community of problem-solvers who, guided by our mission, vision and values, integrate technology, art, and craft to create world-class, innovative, and sustainable solutions for highly complex projects across Texas and around the world. Learn more about Overland’s mission, values and The Human Handprint.
How is conservation and sustainability a part of Overland Partners’ business strategy?
Since the firm’s creation in 1987, conservation and sustainability have served as the pillars of our philosophy and are integrated across our business practices at all levels. Our belief that we cannot improve upon things we cannot measure has propelled us forward as an industry leader in conservation best practices. Overland was instrumental in creating prototypes that became the frameworks for LEED and the Sustainable SITES® Initiative and has earned dozens of LEED certifications over the years. Our ongoing commitment to raising the bar of sustainable design and measurable human outcomes has led to investment in Overland’s Design Performance team; supporting Overland staff through continuing education and accreditations; working with leading-edge organizations such as the International Living Future Institute and International WELL Building Institute; and collaborating with world-class consultants, research partners and experts to solve complex problems and continuously innovate.
We strive to be a model for actionable climate strategies, educating our clients and stakeholders about green building strategies that reduce carbon emissions and advocating for designs that promote well-being and stand the test of time. Overland has committed to the AIA 2030 Commitment – American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) challenge to transition to Net Zero Carbon on all of our projects by the year 2030. With The Human Handprint, we have a framework to guide, organize, inform, and measure building performance and holistic sustainability, continually empowering design that fulfills the promises we make to each other, our clients, and the Earth.
Being recognized again as a TxN20 firm is both an honor and continued inspiration – invigorating our team to continuously raise the bar around rigorous, resilient, and deeply sustainable design solutions that positively impact Texas and all the places we serve around the world.
– Adam Bush, AIA, Overland Principal & President
What are Overland Partners’ short and long-term goals as they relate to conservation and sustainability
Overland has pledged to the American Institute of Architects 2030 Commitment which aims to reduce carbon emissions associated with buildings by 100% in 2030. Our Sustainability Action Plan has laid the foundation for our commitment as firm to reduce carbon emissions associated with our built projects in addition to our in-house operations. We reevaluate our commitment to sustainability every three years and in the process reevaluate and retool our processes. Our new goals, strategies, and tactics are then rereleased to the public. In 2022, AIA National recognized Overland as one of the top 2030 Commitment signatory firms advancing the profession towards carbon neutrality, publishing this case study.
As part of our commitment to transparency, we completed our JUST® label in 2022. JUST® is a third-party certification program through the International Living Future Institute (ILFI) which requires organizations disclose information on their organization surrounding: Diversity & Inclusion, Employee Health, Equity, Stewardship, Employee Health, and Purchasing & Supply Chain. JUST® serves as a transparency platform for organizations to disclose how they address their operations, employees, and how they make financial and community investments. Embracing the Just 2.0 label is Overland’s ongoing commitment to holding ourselves accountable for our practices of architecture and urban design for a more sustainable, equitable and just world. Read more about Overland’s commitment to JUST here.
Overland requires all studio team members to attain at least one sustainability accreditation within six months of their hire date and provides study materials for those accreditations including LEED AP, WELL AP, and Living Future Accreditation. Having employees that are certified with respected sustainability certification emboldens the firm with the knowledge to innovate, educate and guide clients and our consultant partners about sustainable strategies and choices for optimal design outcomes.
Who at Overland Partners is leading your conservation and sustainability efforts and what are some examples of employee engagement in conservation and sustainability at your company?
John Byrd, AIA, LEED AP, LFA, Director of Design Performance, Associate Principal
Sandra Montalbo, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP BD+C, WELL AP, LFA, Design Performance Manager
In addition to John and Sandra, every member of Overland’s team across all levels, locations, and market sectors we serve, contributes to Overland’s mission, vision and values for stewardship and sustainable design.
Overland Partners places a strong emphasis on giving back to the community and actively engages in various initiatives to make a positive impact through the following channels:
A community-lead conservation effort between Laredo, Texas and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, the Binational River Conservation Project aims to strengthen the historic relationship between two nations around a unified vision to re-engage communities around a 6.2 mile stretch of the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo.
What conservation and sustainability programs and projects does Overland Partners lead and participate in?
Our “Academy” sessions are one-hour weekly recurring sessions led by internal and external subject matter experts on sustainable design, biophilia, stormwater management, construction detailing, software and simulation training, etc. “The Academy” provides our designers dedicated time to “sharpen-the-saw” and highlights best-practices, design excellence, and knowledge-sharing within the office.
Carbon Offset Program
We calculate our carbon footprint annually which includes energy, water, travel (air and motor vehicle), office supplies, etc. We use this carbon calculation to gauge how sustainable our operations are from year-to-year. We also use this data to inform our annual carbon offsets as part of our pursuit of carbon neutrality.
Overland Partners was certified at the highest level – Gold certification for Reworks San Antonio. The ReworksSA program is a third-party certification program sponsored by The City of San Antonio that promotes improved recycling programs in the workplace. Our employes have access to small individual recycling and trash bins at all workspaces.
We also have an annual material waste cleanup event in which return material samples to product vendors. We also have an architectural materials upcycling program by which we promote upcycling. Our old architectural material samples are donated to local charities to include: the Southwest School of Arts, Thomas Jefferson High School’s Architecture Program and local National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) Chapter.
We have donated materials to several programs and non-profits. Examples include donating wood samples and tiles to the UTSA Southwest School of Art for their art programs as well as San Antonio College’s architecture program for students to use in architectural models and projects. In the renovation of our San Antonio office, we upcycled concrete slabs and joists among other materials for adaptive re-use applications.
We recognize the negative global impacts food waste has on our planet in the form of methane gas. In response, we have contracted Compost Queens to provide composting services which through their innovative composting system allows us to compost nearly all our food waste, and paper plates, etc. Our in-house composting efforts amount to ~ 6,250 gallons of waste which equals ~ 512 pounds of methane diverted annually.
The renovation of Building 1000 exceeds the College’s mission and vision, which is to promote student success and community development by providing affordable access, through traditional and distance learning modes, to higher education and workforce training, including appropriate applied baccalaureate degrees, in its service area.
– Paul R. Mason, Project Manager, Austin Community College District
How do you see the future of conservation and sustainability evolving, and what role will Overland Partners play in that progress?
We will continue to refine and apply our sustainable design skills to all projects while leveraging emerging technologies and building analysis software to improve energy and water efficiency. While much of the current conversations related to the built environment focus on efficiency and carbon, we believe access to freshwater and loss of biodiversity are more pressing.
We will continue to advocate for environmental policies and codes that safeguard our most precious resources and challenge the status quo. We will integrate new, innovative strategies and leverage time tested techniques to safeguard the natural environment and design places that promote human flourishing.
How does Overland Partners quantify investment and return on conservation and sustainability?
At Overland Partners, our mission is to “unlock embedded potential by modeling how we should live and influence the world through the practice of architecture”. As part of this commitment, we recognize that our firm calculates our annual carbon footprint which includes energy, water, travel (air and motor vehicle), office supplies, etc. We use this carbon calculation to gauge how sustainable our operations are from year-to-year. For example, one year we determined that if we eliminated sparkling water carbons and rented a sparkling water machine, we would save approximately $6,000/year. We also use this carbon footprint calculations to inform our annual purchase of carbon offsets thru Carbon Fund as part of our pursuit of carbon neutrality.
In 2014, our firm invested in photovoltaics to offset the carbon emissions associated with our building’s energy consumption. Our initial investment produces 100,000kwh per year which amounts to approximately $11,000/year. Our solar array has offset our energy consumption by approximately 52% in 2022. In 2022, we invested $1815 dollars offsetting 146 Tons of CO2 for our organization’s operations.
Determining financial return on our conservation, sustainability, and environmental causes is challenging to assess within architecture firms as it is for many industries. Assigning economic valuation to natural resources in our modern economy is based on a profit-driven premise as if natural resources limitless and solely for the benefit of human consumption. At Overland, we recognize that the exhaustion of finite and non-renewable resources can cause irreversible environmental damage.
What is the one lesson that Overland Partners has learned from your conservation and sustainability efforts that others can take back and think about applying within their own space?
We meet our clients where they are and approach sustainability and conservation through the lens of listening first to our clients and the landscape with an open mind and willingness to share knowledge. Our promise of Unlocking the Embedded Potential™ through our method of The Human Handprint comes from our curiosity and passion to always find a better solution that is unique to every client, project, and place. We integrate sustainability aspirations with real-world practicality. The decisions we make about sustainability have a ripple effect. It is never too late to start making sustainable choices that will influence and inspire others to do the same. When you strive to do the right thing, those efforts build upon each other creating a virtuous cycle that leads to a brighter, more sustainable future for all.
Why is Texas an important home or base of operations for Overland Partners?
Overland was founded in the Lone Star State, and although we work on projects all over the world, we choose to call Texas our home with design practices in San Antonio and Dallas. Given the diverse and fragile ecosystems across Texas, we have a unique opportunity to take the values and lessons we learn here to others around the world and reciprocally, can bring the very best we learn from others to influence and inspire our practice here. The diversity of people, landscapes, and communities present in this state are like no other and offer rich opportunities to make a powerful impact on those in our own backyard.
Learn more about Overland Partners conservation and sustainability efforts here.
Employees are accredited with LEED AP, WELL AP, and Living Future Accreditation, employing more living future accredited professionals than any other architecture firm in America.
As well as $900,000 invested by hiring new staff, providing training, and becoming a Silver Sponsor of USGBC and AIA San Antonio’s Committee to the Environment
Furthermore, 100,000 kWh produced annually with photovoltaics to offset carbon emissions (saving $11,000/year)
San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas