A Member Impact Story

ILFI is proudly featuring a series of impact stories to showcase and celebrate the exciting positive effects of our Living Future Member community. In this month’s interview, we are pleased to feature the team at evolveEA.

When evolveEA was in its infancy, sustainability looked a lot different. “Embodied carbon, health impacts, and resilience weren’t all that well-defined 20 years ago,” shares Marc Mondor, AIA, who co-founded and leads the Pittsburgh-based firm with his wife, Christine Mondor, FAIA.

A recent construction photo of current project Bridger View Neighborhood Development in Bozeman Montana. evolve led the community master plan and landscape design process, and also managed the recent LEED ND Gold certification. The master plan creates 62 mixed-income homes. Photo credit: Christine Walker, Trust for Public Land

These days, the scope of problems that the green building movement addresses has greatly expanded, and as the industry moved forward, so did value-driven firms like evolveEA. What began for them as sustainable building consulting and design grew into education and communications, planning, and urban design. With this diverse experience, they’ve been able to apply sustainability principles at scale, and work with their clients to enhance their vision or mission–whether a sports team or a nonprofit—through sustainability solutions. They’ve worked on certified projects running the gamut from Living Buildings to WELL and EcoDistricts.

An excerpt from the award-winning Rain Check 2.0 green stormwater infrastructure plan for Buffalo Sewer Authority (Buffalo, NY).

As members in the ILFI community might understand, certifications like the Living Building Challenge (LBC) can serve as both validation for work you’re already committed to as well as education into new areas to grow. “[We thought], of course we’re green…until we started looking at sustainability frameworks and realized we’d never considered this other issue.” What sets LBC apart for the firm is its standard of absolute sustainability rather than relative sustainability. 

A similar shift for evolveEA began with winning the Green Workplace Challenge held by Sustainable Pittsburgh starting in 2011. This celebrated and validated the firm’s first year of  carbon neutrality after having set the goal two years prior. These achievements started us on the path to our first B Corp Certification (2013), which we’ve maintained now for a decade and counting.

Evolvers standing in their soon-to-be new expanded office space.

When the Just label was introduced to the industry in 2007, the team at evolveEA wondered whether this label differed at all from B Corp. They quickly realized the Just label complemented their work well, and helped strengthen their firm operations. “Just encourages us to continually re-examine how we operate,” shared Daniel Klein, Senior Communication Designer at evolveEA. 

This continual re-examination has led to new policies and standard operating procedures for internal improvements, but also helped the team to deepen and broaden their positive impact on communities where they work. Their Community Engagement Strategies are tailored to the needs of the project, in ways that build capacity within the community to ensure that plans reach their highest potential to benefit local organizations and individuals. Neighborhood planning processes have inspired participants to start small businesses and initiatives, addressing local issues like food desert status or initiating renewable energy installations. On other projects they’ve collaborated with artists or hired youth ambassadors who have emerged as community champions for equity and sustainability. Over time, evolveEA has established internal systems that ensure they’re engaging every community and client with intention and focusing on their unique needs, whether they’re designing a Living Building, a public transit station, or planning for the future of a whole city.

evolve environment :: architecture is a sustainable design and consulting practice founded in 2004 by Christine Mondor FAIA and Marc Mondor AIA, LEED Fellow, with a focus on people, processes, and places.

Christine has been active in shaping places, processes and organizations in the US and around the world through her work as an architect, educator, and activist. As evolveEA Principal, her projects are frequently recognized with national and regional awards for architecture and urban planning, and led three Pittsburgh area communities to become the world’s first EcoDistricts Certified municipalities. Christine also teaches architecture, landscape design and sustainability at Carnegie Mellon University and has been an invited lecturer and guest critic at many institutions and has presented at the Living Futures Conference, Greenbuild, and other international venues.

Marc sees triple-bottom line potential in every project and has been an influential voice in sustainability for decades. As Principal and cofounder of evolveEA, Marc works with greening design and construction projects, including the first LEED certified project in Africa, the oldest LEED EB certified project (1869) and the first certified Living Building in Pennsylvania. As former President of AIA Pennsylvania, Marc created the thriving COTE (Committee On The Environment) and EDI (Equity Diversity & Inclusion) committees, and Marc is Vice Chair of the PA Climate Change Advisory Committee, producing the Pennsylvania Climate Action Plan.

Daniel believes in the power of visual communication as a force for social impact and informed change making. As senior communication designer at evolveEA, he contributes conceptual direction, visualization, and content development to a broad array of project types. Daniel also leads evolve’s B Corp certification and Just label processes.

Interested in becoming part of our community of practitioners, organizations, and everyday advocates transforming the building industry through the holistic lens of climate, health, and equity?

Written By

Liz Harder

Liz manages the Living Future Membership program, helping to expand the growth of ILFI’s membership base & seek new ways to bring value to the Living Future Member community. If you have any questions about becoming a member, you can reach her at membership@living-future.org.