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The Role of Design in Sustainability: Meet the Design Forum Panel Speakers!

We are delighted to introduce this year's panel on the topic of sustainability for our March Design Forum. With this well-established and innovative group, we will be parsing the finer details of how to bring sustainability to the forefront of architectural design and what current systems implicate for future projects.

If you would like to attend this discussion in person, register here.

Our Panel

Sam Culpepper

Sam is a technical building design expert with more than a decade-long career as a commercial architect, shaping projects as varied as rowhome renovations for affordable housing in Baltimore to the 16-story Omni Hotel at the Battery Atlanta, and is currently renovating a 1927 house to be net-zero. Sam has a pragmatic, solutions-oriented approach to high-performance design and construction and enjoys the challenge of balancing the realities of construction with the necessity of progress towards a net-zero future. Sam applies this skillset as the Program Manager of Design Consulting and provides charrette services, design review, energy modeling, and consultation to help owners and developers meet a wide range of sustainability goals.

John MacFarland

With over 30 years of experience in designing and commissioning building systems, John is a seasoned expert in sustainable construction practices. He has led numerous projects as a LEED consultant and commissioning authority, and played a key role in developing greenhouse gas emissions tracking software. As a former member of the USGBC LEED Faculty and Vice Chair of the Indoor Environmental Quality Technical Advisory Group, John has actively shaped industry standards. His leadership extends to professional organizations, including serving as president of the Atlanta Chapter of ASHRAE. He spearheaded the development of CxAlloy commissioning software, earning him accolades such as being named one of Building Design and Construction magazine's "40 Under 40 AEC Industry Rising Stars" in 2006.

Howard S. Wertheimer

Howard is a distinguished leader renowned for his expertise in sustainable campus development, seamlessly integrating various disciplines such as architecture, engineering, landscape, technology, and ecology. During his tenure as AVP for Capital Planning & Space Management at Georgia Tech from 2006 to 2019, Howard spearheaded transformative initiatives, including the strategic oversight of the Campus Master Plan and Landscape Master Plan. His visionary leadership drove the realization of the Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design, a fully certified Living Building recognized for its environmental advancements. Overseeing sustainable capital investments exceeding $1.5 billion, Howard's influence led to the development of nearly 3 million square feet of LEED-certified buildings, including multiple LEED platinum-certified buildings and two AIA COTE Top Ten award winners. His impact extends beyond Georgia Tech, having previously contributed to notable projects as a partner and principal at Lord, Aeck & Sargent. Recognized as a 2019 Chrysalis Legacy Award winner by the USGBC Georgia Chapter, Howard continues to inspire sustainable practices as a Fellow in the American Institute of Architects and through his leadership roles in various organizations, including the Association of University Architects. Howard currently teaches in the School of Architecture at Georgia Tech.

Ed Akins

Ed Akins, an experienced Registered Architect and former Tenured Associate Professor, is dedicated to enhancing awareness of sustainability within architectural practice and education. With accomplishments ranging from leadership roles within architectural firms, the AIA, and higher education to being named Sustainable Fellow at Kennesaw State University and serving as the Interim Chair of their Architecture program, Ed brings a wealth of expertise to his work. His skills span various areas, including Urban Planning, Mixed-use development, Comprehensive Planning, Sustainable Design, and Residential Design, backed by a Masters of Architecture from the Georgia Institute of Technology. As the first recipient of the John Busby Award for education and service to the AIA (Atlanta), Ed's decades of applied experiential design knowledge are evident in his commitment to increasing the quality and depth of intelligence within architectural design practices. Ed's approach prioritizes human and ecological characteristics, aiming to reinforce systemic clarity in the built environment. His dedication extends beyond academia, as demonstrated by his involvement in community engagement efforts and collaborations with Atlanta communities to achieve Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) grants. Through local art installations, architectural practice, and contributions to conference papers on reparative planning and solar accommodation in design, Ed continues to explore the delicate relationship between humans and nature while making impactful contributions to the broader architectural community.


If you'd like to learn more about what is going on here in Atlanta, consider attending our next Design Forum on Sustainability. Attendance is free but requires RSVP so click below to register!



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