Licensed architects Jennifer Rennick, CEA, and Andrea (Andy) Pease, AIA, crossed paths when they each had their own firms. Rennick focused on energy modeling and calculations, and Pease offered green consulting. The two began collaborating in 2005 and found integrating their services to be a brilliant combination. Three years later they formed a partnership and established In Balance Green Consulting in San Luis Obispo, California.
A great deal of deliberation went into selecting the name of the firm. Rennick and Pease settled on In Balance Green Consulting to signify both the harmonization of their personal and professional lives and the need to balance environmental ideals with project realities. “We have a passion for our work and know it is important for the community,” Pease says. “Our firm balances our interests and helps clients reap the benefits of sustainability.”
In Balance Green Consulting offers daylighting-analysis, energy-efficiency, green-building, and LEED services for commercial, institutional, and residential projects throughout California. For each design they analyze, Rennick and Pease work closely with building teams to identify the most effective methods of energy efficiency. “We have the ability to bridge the gap between the trades and make sure everyone is speaking the same language so the building is green, energy-efficient, and aesthetically beautiful,” Rennick says.
The partners realized that they could complete three projects a year as architects but as many as 40 as consultants. “We had a goal of making a considerable positive impact on the environment and energy use in our area,” Pease says. “That is why we consciously chose to pursue this as a business.”
The firm’s recent notable projects include Niner Wine Estates, Hilton Homewood Suites, and the Department of Motor Vehicles Field Office in Lompoc, California. Niner Wine Estates, in Paso Robles, California, consists of a production building, a hospitality building, and a boutique winery—all of them LEED Silver certified. “They were one of the first wineries where the production building was included in the certification,” Pease says. In Balance Green Consulting was brought in at the time the foundation was being poured, so they had to rush to catch up. Adjustments were made to water use, light levels, landscape design, and the on-site storm-water system. “A lot was done already,” Pease says, “but we were able to incorporate sustainability into all the spaces.”
Hilton Homewood Suites is a residential-suite hotel in Palo Alto, California, pursuing LEED certification. In Balance Green Consulting was challenged to meet Hilton standards while satisfying California’s higher performance requirements. The firm explored options including overhangs, insulation levels, high-efficiency mechanical systems, daylighting, and greywater recycling. When the firm began working on the Department of Motor Vehicles Field Office, the developer had identified 35 potential LEED points but wasn’t familiar with the nuances of the rating system’s online forms. With extensive LEED experience with LEED, Rennick and Pease were able to recognize what else would qualify and make some adjustments in the documentation.
LEED certification requires projects to be commissioned; an advocate must come in on behalf of the owner to review the project for potential problems. Though In Balance Green Consulting works with multiple commissioning firms, The Palt Company has served as the authority on six of Rennick and Pease’s projects, including the winery and the field office.
The partnership between Pease and Rennick has significantly influenced the way their California clients approach design and construction. As clients are educated, they incorporate the green practices into future projects. “When those clients don’t need us as much, we bring on new clients and expand our services,” Pease says. “We hope to help our clients achieve even higher levels of sustainable design.”