HEDs Architects Logo in gray


Diagram Showing Passive Solar Design for Habitat for Humanity Homes located in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Green Home Design Closes the Wealth Gap in the US

Sustainable homes may seem like a luxury, but green design solutions can help close the wealth gap in the United States…

New research on “mother” trees | the importance of FSC certified wood

Mother trees that communicate to their seedlings, sending them nutrients? Trees that share information among species to ensure their mutual survival?…

Architects’ Perspectives on the issue of Confederate Statues

Charlottesville, Virginia was recently visited, or more aptly invaded by, members of nearly fifty different organizations loosely falling under the umbrella of the Alt-Right…

Wooden Modern House with Slatted Porch
Is Beauty a Trade-off for Green Design?

Nature teaches us the importance of beauty for survival. Color in the plumage of birds, the smell of flowers are but two examples of natural selection …

Zero energy homes | the Passivhaus approach to reducing energy bills in homes

True or false – adding insulation has diminishing returns? True, doubling the thickness of a roof insulation doubles the cost while halving the heat loss/gain, and half of a half is a quarter and half of that an eighth…. So, “How low should we go?” as some have asked.

In Pursuit of Happiness – The Question of Size and Architecture

The topic of size comes up a lot at architectural conferences. The issue is an important one for obvious reasons – bigger homes require more energy to heat and cool and more energy goes into the construction materials.

Affordable Green Buildings: Lessons From the Make It Right Homes

To understand how to build affordable green buildings, it’s useful to look toward low-income communities where these strategies are being applied at scale, where costs and paybacks are being measured.

Rendering of Modern Green Home in Virginia Beach Home Shows Fountain, Trellises and Second-Story Covered Porch. Designed by Top Virginia Architect.
Modern Green Virginia Beach House Tour

Superinsulated and designed to meet Passivhaus standards, triple glazed windows, Huber Zip system, FSC certified woods and many other sustainable features.

Charlottesville Net Zero Home With South-Facing Solar Panel Roof, Trapezoidal Windows, Wood, Hardipanel Siding and Carport by Virginia Residential Architect HEDS.
Solar Energy: Let the Sun Shape the Roof

Solar energy is becoming more affordable by the day (see blog post 3/16/2106).  Before long, the cost for solar power will become cheaper than grid-sourced.

Virginia’s Lewis & Clark Exploratory Center in Film

Teen filmmaker James Hill documentary showcases the Lewis & Clark Exploratory Center’s green features.

Solar Power Becoming Dirt Cheap

A new product will make solar energy dirt cheap.  Solar power used to have a payback of about 20 years. The lifespan of photovoltaic (PV) panels was about 20 years, making solar a difficult sell given the high cost.

Creating Layers of Value – What’s Good For Environment is Good for Business.

We consider a project unsatisfactory if it’s just beautiful.  We consider a project unsatisfactory if it’s only green — or only functional.  We consider a project falls short if it’s not a good fit for it’s natural setting or urban context.

Low-energy Solutions

We humans, occupants of the habitat we call The World, find ourselves in a predicament – confronted by a changing environment, we must adapt and do so quickly, achieving carbon neutrality by 2030

Lewis & Clark Exploratory Center of Virginia: Engaging People is Key to a Building’s Success

We design with the philosophy that engaging people in our buildings is key to a project’s success.  We think a lot about how to create opportunities for discovery, for collaboration, for a conversation with nature

Architects and Community Engagement

We believe in win-win solutions. Obstacles can be surmounted with creative thinking and a few skills. One area where architects can make a difference is in the public arena.

Sustainable Design Requires Creative Solutions

A sustainable architect needs to solve for more than would the typical designer.  I liken our process to solving the Rubic’s cube – where all the goals, challenges and givens must be in alignment.

Harness the Sun at the Community Level

Passive solar design is well understood yet little considered at the community design level. New York City planners had the foresight to lay out the NYC street grid with solar aspect in mind.

Charlottesville VA Architect Chris Hays’ Interview with Home Style Green

Charlottesville VA architect Chris Hays talks with broadcaster Matthew Cutler-Welsh about how homes can improve your life.

Allison Ewing Shares Her Green Design Expertise at Hanley Wood’s Vision 2020 Symposium

She discusses why the building is at a Darwinian crossroads and it’s time to evolve an Architecture of the Fittest.


Lichen grows on the sunny side of the bark of a tree, capitalizing on the warm of the environment. I’m fascinated by the compass termite amitermes meridionalis, native to northern Australia, that builds its nest like a sundial.

The Not So Big Apartment

Nature has more to teach us on size: Scientists are observing radical changes in body size in countless mammals, birds, insects, flowers… as a result of climate change.

Shape in Context

The natural world has many examples of adaptation to climate. The northern white-tailed deer has a lower surface area to volume ratio than does its more diminutive southern cousin and radiates less body heat per unit of mass, allowing it to stay warmer in the colder climate.

Safety in Numbers

In Aristotelian terms, techné, craftmanship, craft or art, was considered the imperfect practice of nature.  Nature was regarded as teacher and keeper.

Engaging the Developer

The developer-builder operates under a series of environmental pressures the most important of which is to sell homes while making a profit.  The Developer-Builders consider first costs, first because profit equals marketability less first costs.

The Elephant in the Room

Those committed to changing the business-as-usual of the industry must define a new species of building, one that operates at scale.

The Butterfly Effect

If a single flap of a butterfly’s wings can be instrumental in generating a tornado, so also can all the previous and subsequent flaps of its wings…

Belvedere Civic Core Winning Competition - Rendering Showing Plaza and Open-Air Pavilion by Charlottesville Commercial Architect
Architecture of the Fittest – 01

Fossil records support a theory on evolution whereby isolated populations, subjected to a new environmental pressures adapt rapidly, often within several or a dozen generations.

Cover Image of Book Dream Homes.
Dream Homes

New View Image of Interior with Quote from Allison Ewing overlayed
New View: A Curated Visual Gallery: Twenty Magnificent Homes by Northeast Architects

Wine & Country Magazine Cover with Bartender Making a drink in a martini glass
Wine & Country Living, Vol 7, 2018

Modern House with large windows and a big flat overhang amongst trees in the woods
The Green House: New Directions in Sustainable Architecture

Residential Design Vol. 6: A Timely Way to Build

Live/Work: Working at Home, Living at Work

Green Homes: Dwellings for the 21st Century

Good Green Kitchens

Good Green Homes: Creating Better Homes for a Healthier Planet

150 Best Sustainable House Ideas

50 US Architects: Residential + Planning: Damir Sinovcic

Dwell: Linkhorn Bay House and the Japanese Concept of Shakkei

The Modern Residence

The Modern Residence: Inspired Modern Homes Imagined and Designed by the Nation’s Leading Architects

Virginia Construction Journal

Abode: Country Mod

C-ville Weekly: On the Waterfront: Lewis & Clark Center Builds River Connections

Home Style Green: How Architecture Can Help People Create a Better Life

C-ville Abode: Global studies: Travel reveals endless possibilities for architect Christopher Hays

Abode: Porch Perfect: 11 Local Spaces Maximizing Outdoor Living

C-ville: Fresh Face: Waynesboro Factory Solutions Place Gets a Second Life

Huffington Post: Lawns Gone Wild

houzz: Design Workshop: The Modern Dogtrot

C-ville Weekly Abode: East and West: An Asian-inspired Home Embraces Virginia’s Seasons

Architect Magazine: ECOBUILDING Pulse- Building Design + Performance

Architect Magazine: ECOBUILDING Pulse – Do You Know What’s Really In Your Products?

Architect Magazine: ECOBUILDING Pulse: Integrative Design and the Laws of Attraction

Architect Magazine: ECOBUILDING Pulse: Think Like a Lizard

inform: VSAIA Awards for Excellence

The Wall Street Journal: The New Lawn: Shaggy, Chic and Easy on the Mower

Residential Architect: The Home Team

Architect Magazine: Case Study: 11-Year-Old Charlottesville, Va., Home Reveals Enduring Performance of Environmental Design

USA Today: Make Your House More Green

Residential Architect: Is Graywater Harvesting Worth the Effort and Expense?

C-ville Weekly: You, Me and green

dwell: Woolen Mills House

decojournal: Charlotte Residence By Allison Ewing and William McDonough

Planetizen: Banff’s Eco-Courtyard

Treehugger: Bill McDonough’s Bison Court in Banff

Washington Post: At One With Nature

Inform Magazine: Coming Home

Architect Magazine: Breaking the Circle

Architect Magazine: ECOBUILDING Pulse: Inside the Revolution

Salon: Great Big Green Monster Mansions

ArchNewsNow: Riverside Reveries: The Museum of Life and the Environment by William McDonough + Partners; Ralph Appelbaum Associates; and Nelson-Byrd Landscape Architects


Nike European Headquarters

    • American National Design Award 2004
    • I.D. Forty, I.D. Magazine, February 2001

Gap Inc.

    • Green Roof Award of Excellence, Green Roofs for Healthy Cities 2003
    • Award of Excellence, Washington Chapter/AIA Awards Program 2002
    • I.D. Forty, I.D. Magazine, February 2001
    • Energy Efficiency Award, Savings by Design 2000
    • Good Design is Good Business Award, Business Week/Architectural
    • Record, 1998
    • First Place, Design competition for 340,000 SF Corporate Campus 1994
    • Herman Miller “GreenHouse” Factory and Offices
    • Good Design is Good Business Award, Business Week/ Architectural Record, 1998

Sarah Heinz House

    • Certificate of Merit, AIA Pittsburgh 2009
    • LEED Gold

Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies, Oberlin College

    • Top Ten Green Buildings, AIA Committee on the Environment 2002
    • Honor Award, AIA Committee on Architecture and Education, 1999
    • LEED Pilot

Lewis & Clark Exploratory Center of VA

  • VSAIA 2018 Honor Award for Excellence in Architecture

Dogtrot House

    • Honorable Mention, American Institute of Architects Central Virginia 2012
    • Award of Honor, Virginia Society of the AIA 2012

Rivers Edge House

    • Award of Excellence, Virginia Society of the AIA 2009

Charlotte Residence

    • Honor Award, Central Virginia AIA 2004

Pine Island Residence

    • Merit Award, Central Virginia AIA 2003

Virginia Beach House

    • Inform Award, Virginia Society AIA 2003
    • Presidential Citation for Sustainable Design, AIA DC 2002
    • Custom Home of the Year, Custom Home Magazine 2002
    • Honor Award, Central Virginia AIA 2001

Woolen Mills House

    • Honor Award, Central Virginia AIA 2002

Cave Avenue Homes

    • Merit Award, Central Virginia AIA 2006

Bison Courtyard

    • Honor award, Central Virginia AIA 2006
    • LEED Silver

Orchard Downs Community

    • Honor Award, Central Virginia AIA 2008