Landscape Architect Talks about Capitol Federal Hall's Green roof


The custom-built LiveRoof® green roof system at Capitol Federal Hall at The University of Kansas's new School of Business has taken shape. Teresa Nelson, landscape architect, discusses the complex process and environmental benefits of this 7,000 SF element of the new building.

LiveRoof is a patented, subterranean modular system that unites soil and plants creating a beautiful, meadow-like aesthetic. These green roofs provide numerous, significant environmental benefits: 
.    Reduces stormwater runoff by 50 – 90 percent
.    Lowers interior sound levels by as much as 40 decibels
.    Improves air filtration; one square foot of green roof can filter seven ounces of dust and smog per year. Plant photosynthesis also reduces greenhouse gases in the air
.    Increases roof life; soil and plants provide a protective barrier, along with a waterproof roof lining, to extend roof life by as much as 200-300 percent.

Our Top 5 Sustainable Projects this Year


KU School of Business | Lawrence, KS - New Construction - 166,000 SF


  • Conscious Site Design - Sensitive site development and native landscaping
  • Transit Oriented Development - Public transportation access with bus stop right at building and bike racks
  • Passive Lighting - Daylighting and views
  • Passive Heating/Cooling - Efficient window systems and glazing
  • Passive Cooling - Green roof outside Dean’s suite
  • Active Energy Efficiency - Occupancy sensors on lighting and LED fixtures in select locations
  • Active Energy Efficiency - Energy-efficient HVAC design with modeled energy use approximately 32% better than ASHRAE 90.1 2007
  • Active Water Efficiency - Water usage reviewed with low flow fixtures in restrooms
  • Active Energy Monitoring - Commissioning of building systems
  • Pro-Recycling - Key locations of recycling centers
  • Eco-Materials - Specified low-VOC emitting materials as well as materials with recycled content


UMB Phoenix | Phoenix, AZ - New Construction - 4,000 SF


  • Conscious Site Design - Palette of exterior materials, sugar cube limestone, cast-in-place concrete, slate, glass and metal panels, give the building scale and a presence of its own on the site
  • Passive Heating/Cooling - Energy-efficient program design and space planning
  • Passive Heating/Cooling - Building oriented to maximize solar productivity
  • Passive Lighting - Interiors and materials designed to create openness in public areas
  • Passive Lighting - Daylighting and views
  • Active Heating/Cooling - Photovoltaic panels to offset energy consumption



Cottey College | Nevada, MO - New Building - 30,000 SF

  • Conscious Site Design - An open courtyard in front pays tribute to its donors in a special recognition plaza
  • Passive Heating/Cooling - Energy-efficient design program design and space planning
  •  Passive Lighting - A large communicating atrium will allow for an abundance of natural sunlight
  • Active Heating/Cooling - Photovoltaic panels for solar power generation
  • Active Heating/Cooling - Energy-efficient HVAC design

Village Church Child & Family Development Center | Overland Park, KS - New Building - 48,000 SF

  • Conscious Site Design - Extensive nature explore play area construction adjacent to classrooms
  • Transit Oriented Development - Currently working with KCPL to install (2) EV fueling stations on site with the Church paying for the power to charge vehicles in an initial use period. 
  • Passive Lighting - Daylighting and views
  • Active Heating/Cooling - 51 module 15KW photovoltaic installation to be installed in conjunction with the currently specified 120 gallon solar hot water system. Photovoltaic system designed to accommodate an ultimate build out of a 222 panel 80KW system. The system is designed with electric panel and disconnects to accommodate the final 80 KW system. The panels themselves utilize state of the art micro inverters that allow the system to expand on a per panel basis. The Church is working on plans to provide members with a giving opportunity to add the panels individually at a palatable giving amount. 
  • Active Energy Monitoring - The PV panels can be monitored individually with a smart phone app so that the performance of the panels can be tracked by the individuals that have funded them. It could function like an adopt a panel program.

Mission Hills Country Club  l  Mission Hills, Kansas - New Addition - 12,160 SF Renovation/5,000 SF

  • The addition is a long and narrow building, allowing us to utilize daylighting throughout the entire space. 
  • The building is oriented with the longer facades facing southeast and northwest. This allows us to utilize the lower morning sun early in the day while blocking the majority of the harsh western sun in the evening. 
  • There are large deciduous trees on the west side of the building that provide evening shade in the summer and allow sunlight to warm the building in winter. 
  • The majority of the glazing on the building faces southeast, which is great for optimizing both the amount of usable daylight and it provides great views out to the surrounding landscape.
  • The addition sits with its long axis close to the swimming pool, which allows us to take advantage of the evaporative cooling effect off the water.
  • Building Envelope
  • High efficiency glazing.
  • Continuous insulation provided. 
  • Building envelope designed to exceed energy code standards. 
  • Exterior sun shades along south façade. 
  • Cross ventilation provided in several areas. 
  • Motorized MechoShades on all windows to provide additional control of hard sunlight and reflective glare off of pool. 

- A highly efficient mechanical system will be installed. It will provide supply air near the windows along the building envelope to help combat heat gain/loss at the source.


From Sustainability to Savings


Samantha McCloud

Samantha McCloud

In conversations around the world and across industries, environmentally-conscious decision-making continues to materialize as the heart of innovation, cost-saving, and responsible practice. We have been at the forefront of this discussion for many years.

That tradition continues as we give great consideration to how our clients can capitalize on the aspects of sustainability and green design and engaging clients early on in the design process.

According to, research studies show:



Green Buildings are Cost Effective

  • Owners of green buildings reported that their ROI improved by an average of 19.2% for existing building green projects and an average of 9.9% for new projects.
  • Operating costs decreased by 13.6% for new construction and 8.5% for existing building projects.
  • Building value increased by 10.9% for new construction and 6.8% for existing building projects.
  • Increased asset valuation: New green building projects 5%; Green building retrofits 4%.

On our team, Andy MeyerBen AllersJoel MarquardtMelissa BrownKathy BurkeSteve McGuireJohn Price and Kirk Gastinger have all earned LEED AP certification. Additionally, all of our designers incorporate LEED and sustainability principles into their designs.

Our LEED Certified Buildings

Green Buildings Attract Tenants

  • Buildings with lower operating costs and better indoor environmental quality are more attractive to a growing group of corporate, public and individual buyers. The new Class A office space is green; lease-up rates for green buildings typically range from average to 20 percent above average.

Green Buildings Provide Better Health Standards for Commercial Building Tenants

  • Improved lighting design leads to a 27% reduction in the incidence of headaches, which accounts for 0.7% of the overall cost of employee health insurance. This equals approximately $70 per employee annually.
  • In terms of health care costs, building retrofits which improved the indoor environment of a building resulted in reductions of: communicable respiratory diseases of 9-20%; allergies and asthma of 18-25%; and non-specific health and discomfort effects of 20-50%.”

While the complete list of projects that exemplify our commitment is extensive, here are a few specific examples of our sustainable, efficient design:


Kansas City Art Institute, Dodge Painting Building, Kansas City, MO

  • In our climate region, educational buildings average a total of 69 kBtu/sf/yr.
  • Through the use of a compact floor plan to classroom proportion; excellent insulation; a judicious use of glazing areas; and modular mechanical equipment (for ease of zoning the building for different days and time of the year), the Dodge Painting Building averages only 20 kBtu/sf/yr.
  • Annual energy savings of 73.3%!jg


Wildcat Glades and Audubon Center, Joplin, MO

  • The center is oriented for optimum solar efficiency and all spaces have access to natural lighting.
  • The passive solar design, ground source heat pumps and well insulated walls teach visitors about conservation.
  • A growing green roof system was planted with no maintenance plants and the parking lot is paved with permeable asphalt, keeping rainwater runoff to a minimum.
  • Bioswales located on the property catch the small amount of runoff and keep the glades free from human contaminants.


UMB, Phoenix, AZ

  • Roof top solar array creating 55,000 kWh (kilowatt-hour) annually, equal to annual building use.
  • Low-flow plumbing fixtures, 35% water use reduction.
  • 75% recycled or salvaged construction waste.
  • 20% recycled content, regional materials.
  • The building was developed under highly restrictive development guidelines that required the specific uses of building materials, glazing, finishes, site circulation and orientation.


As a forward-thinking architectural practice, we are committed to providing high-quality service and life-cycle cost-saving designs to our clients, grounded in the basics of energy conservation. It is our goal to be current in the latest technologies and tools for green buildings so we may help clients make well-informed and educated decisions.

How can we help you with your next “green" design?

2030 Challenge Accepted: What Does it Mean, Why Does it Matter?

by: Evan Needman

by: Evan Needman

Architecture and a sustainable future go hand in hand. When we accepted the challenge in 2006, we agreed to meet benchmark reductions in energy consumption by buildings, resulting in carbon-neutral designs by the year 2030. Our goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions attributed to building operations.

With the help of the AIA 2030 Design Data Exchange online reporting platform, recording, reporting, and visualizing local and national progress has never been easier.

Our clients receive the benefits of our leadership in sustainable design.

Inspired by the challenge, we blazed a trail when we become the architect of the Ecoworks project, the first LEED Certified speculative office building in the United States located in Lenexa, KS. Many of our projects have taken advantage of solar and wind power, geothermal heating, energy efficient glazing and more. We celebrate that heritage every day by favoring design solutions that conserve energy and improve building performance.

An important watershed opportunity for building renovation and new construction is happening right now.

In the year 2035, approximately 75% of America’s buildings will have been renovated or newly constructed in the 25 years leading to that date. Right now, building operations such as heating, cooling, and lighting, total nearly 75 percent of US electricity consumption and contribute over 40% of carbon emissions in the United States. Our clients have the greatest opportunity to change these numbers and reduce carbon emissions, while slashing the inherent costs of outdated, inefficient buildings by incorporating techniques outlined in the AIA 2030 Challenge.

from left: Evan Needham, Kirk Gastinger, Samantha McCloud

from left: Evan Needham, Kirk Gastinger, Samantha McCloud

ECOWORKS: The first LEED Certified speculative office space in the United States.

ECOWORKS: The first LEED Certified speculative office space in the United States.


One reason to design green, is the green.

Over the last five years, innovations in sustainable technology, such as photovoltaics (solar Panels), have reduced the cost of products. Incentives such as utility rebates and tax credits have shortened the payback period of these systems.

The improved ROI of green technologies have allowed many of our clients to reach and exceed their operations and maintenance goals. Sustainable certifications include LEED, Energy Star, and “Carbon Neutral”. These designations are excellent marketing opportunities that clients may incorporate into their brand or product identity.

We explore sustainable solutions with clients throughout the design process.

Decisions made early in our design process, known as passive design strategies, can make the greatest impact in reducing operating costs through the entire life of the building or space. The simple alignment or position of a building, the use of efficient or renewable material, and even the shape of the building can help with a building’s efficiency.

Clients joining us on this 2030 design challenge have and will discover the financial benefit of incorporating sustainable principles and technology into the buildings they construct or operate.

Earth Day 2015


(Clockwise, starting in the upper left): Our team shows off their green and earth-tone clothes to show their support of the environment; Rhonda Pearlman and Steve McGuire select which white oak saplings they would like to take home and plant (30 were available to the team); To be good stewards of the environment personally and professionally, team members were encouraged to fill out leaves and post them to our pledge tree; John Kyger creates wild flower "seed balls" to plant in his yard (our team made up to 100 seed balls with the provided material).

Throughout the day, the team also received emails about how to design with LEED in mind; they received a calendar of local recycling events; and everyone learned where our recycling goes after it's collected.

It was fun to celebrate on April 22nd, but our team believes that every day should be Earth Day.

Discussion With A Green Design Expert: The Rise Of Solar And Renewable Energy

by Steve McGuire

by Steve McGuire

Steve McGuire, AIA, LEED AP has been a proponent of green and sustainable design techniques since 1970. In this Q&A, Steve answers questions about solar and renewable energy and how we design to make the world greener.

Q: For the Kansas City region, what are the most common/popular forms of renewable energy?

A: Geothermal is the alternative energy resource that we use most frequently - not as a fuel, but as a means to provide heating and cooling from a non-fossil fuel source. Solar energy, however, can be concentrated on a larger-scale as well as for hot water systems.  Wind in our region is not much of an option on a per project basis but is available for purchase as green power offset.

Q: Many people have heard that solar power is expensive. How have advancements helped to lower the cost? 

A: Per a study done by MIT, the cost of PV (Photovoltaic devices) has dropped dramatically by about 75% since 2004. This extreme change has been fueled by a huge amount of Chinese investment in manufacturing strategy coupled with new technology and a higher quantity of materials purchased.

Q: What’s the payback of using solar technology? 

A: Making buildings as efficient as possible is good for the environment and good for the customer. To be good stewards of the environment, companies are offering more and more rebates to entice prospective users of solar. Investment made in alternative energy sources pay off in about two years. The ROI is outstanding, and adds long-term value to property, especially with equipment lasting 20-25 years with little to no maintenance. That’s a gain of about $25/sq ft that sticks with the property.

Once the initial investment is returned, the potential for savings with a much greater return on that investment is huge.  And it is the right thing to do.

Q: What are the incentives for using renewable energies (tax credits and rebates included)?

A: There are incentives provided by both the federal and state governments. Each state is different of course, but filling out paper work for rebates has become the norm and not the rarity. Companies are now used to it. At this time, rebates are only offered locally in Missouri via KCPL but do not include Kansas.

Q: How can clients with very tight budgets incorporate environmental design?

A: Manufacturers have discovered a way to offer solar PV panels to clients with varying budgets. They are making equipment available to purchase or lease. The benefit of a complete purchase would be the cost savings to our client over an extended period of time. Clients will still save money if they lease the equipment, just not as much. This is all determined by the customer and their budget. If the goal of a company is to use less fossil fuels but they don’t have the funds, leasing is the best option. Ultimately, a purchased system saves you more money. 

Q: What are other short and long term benefits clients would receive by investing in either solar power or an alternative energy source for their project(s)?

A: Dollars and natural resources are saved, recognition by peers in your industry, positive image, and again, because it is the right thing to do. Two of our residential clients have not had an electric bill since their system was installed several months ago!

Q: What is GastingerWalker&'s solution for clients?

A: We don’t immediately jump to recommend solar energy to our clients. Through conscientious architectural design, we systemically evaluate ways that clients can take advantage of efficiencies that are already available at no extra cost. Factors we take into account are the building’s orientation and shape; site; building envelope efficiency; materials used; how the heat gain and loss is managed; and space efficiency. These influences need to be considered first. At that point, a mechanical means to effect comfort conditions may be integrated into the design. We will run the numbers to help our clients discover what's best for them.

Q: What projects has our firm completed with energy saving incentives?

A: We have energy savings projects in all of our sectors. They range in building type, scale and budget.

Additional clients who have benefited from incentives include:

-          UMB, various locations

-          Richard Bolling Federal Building, Kansas City, MO

-          Capitol Federal, various locations

-          BKD, Various Locations

-          Fort Leavenworth Building #465, Army Management Staff College, Ft. Leavenworth, KS

-          Potawatomi Early Childhood Center, Mayetta, KS

-          Overland Park Environmental Education Center, Overland Park, KS

-          Kansas City, MO Library System, Kansas City, MO

-          Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, MO

-          Meneilly Center, Overland Park, KS

-          Westwood Park Residence, Kansas City, MO

-          Wildcat Glades and Audubon Center, Joplin, MO

-          Various Foutch Brothers projects, including Mitchell Park Plaza in St. Joseph, MO

-          Bell Street Residence, Kansas City, MO

Q: So if someone is thinking of switching to Solar Power, can they go “off the grid”?

A. On average, residents receive five hours of quality solar power a day, when the sun peaks overhead. This depends on the weather and the season. Houses and businesses still need to stay on the grid for electricity use at night, especially with larger appliances.

Q. How do we stay ahead of the trends in energy?

A. We are constantly attending seminars, meeting with vendors, and keeping well-read on the latest energy trends. A recent technological advancement that we incorporate into most projects is the correct placement of an air/moisture barrier on the exterior skin of our buildings. Efficient air barriers have become so important, in fact, some municipalities now require them in their code. More and more building science data is becoming available about how heat and moisture effect our buildings and the results are significant. As a result, it is becoming more utilized in commercial construction.

Glass technologies have improved dramatically as well. It is not unreasonable to specify commercial glazing that has an R-value of 3.5 - equivalent to the insulated qualities of most Styrofoam beer coolers. And you can see through it!!! Pretty amazing when you think that you can hold boiling liquids in your hand with a 1/8” Styrofoam cup.

If you have a new or existing project that would benefit from the use of solar energy or other sustainability and efficiency techniques, we would be happy to discuss the possibilities!

Some of the energy saving strategies are:


New York Life Building, Historic Renovation, Kansas City, MO: Designed with high efficiency chillers in the basement to make ice during low cost rate periods in order to produce cooling during peak demand hours.



Ecoworks 1 and 2, Lenexa, KS: The first LEED Certified Speculative Office Building in the United States: water-cooled air conditioning units and computerized monitoring. Sustainable elements include wind power, storm water reuse, native and naturalized plant materials.


Cottey College, Nevada, MO: To help offset an increase in energy consumption of the added 30,000 sf to the campus, 60kW (kilowatts) of solar panels are being installed on the roof.