Tusick & Associates Architects’ founder, Susan B. Tusick, is committed to sustainability and is a LEED AP. Through their leadership, the firm is committed to helping their clients understand the environmental and human benefits as well as the financial impact of sustainable design on their project, short and long term. The sustainable design needs to be balanced with the building’s program and its budget in order to be successful.

We believe in sustainability to the point that we have a green office in reality and in concept. We have refurbished furniture, re-purposed carpeting, efficient HVAC, natural daylight, efficient light fixtures and water fixtures. Additionally, we have committed to minimize the usage of fossil fuels by allowing senior architects to work from home and connect through CipherShare. CipherShare integrates encryption, file-sharing services, shared tasks, messaging and chat into a single application, and is the perfect solution for distributed or mobile teams working collaboratively with sensitive, proprietary or confidential information.

We are a member of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). "The U.S. Green Building Council® is committed to a prosperous and sustainable future for our nation through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings.”

Current Sustainable Project
Colonial Oaks Apartments was built in 1972 on 12 acres in White Township, Beaver County, Pennsylvania. It was constructed under the HUD guidelines for 236 units. The apartment complex has 140 units composed of one, two, three and four bedroom units. The unit types are divided between the four apartment buildings and the forty-eight town houses. The one and two bedroom units are in the three story brick apartment buildings. There are 92 apartment units. The three and four bedroom units are found in the two story brick/siding townhouses. There are 48 townhouses. The complex has adequate parking, a large playground with numerous large oak trees and gentle rolling hills, a community vegetable garden, and a community room for tenant usage.

Colonial Oaks Apartments is now under new management. The former management grossly neglected the grounds and buildings. Tenants stated that the property managers were never in the office. New management found that the records were a mess and many bills unpaid. The existing maintenance personal were unmanaged and ill trained. Major maintenance was required throughout the complex both inside and outside. Last year’s autumn leaves were still on the ground in the spring, weeds were everywhere, grass was knee high by the fourth of July and litter was scattered throughout the playgrounds. The inside needed a thorough spring cleaning. Windows needed to be washed and carpeting needed to be cleaned. Fingerprints were on doors and walls everywhere. Public hallways, lobbies and community rooms were in desperate need of scrubbing and new paint. Repairs were needed in all the units ranging from drywall patches, to leaking plumbing, to broken doors, to bad outlets, to bad light fixtures, etc., etc. The management office was in need of total reorganization. The new management had a huge task. They immediately started organizing the office, attending to tenants immediate needs and cleaning up the grounds.

The new management discovered that the utility bills were higher than other properties they managed. They decided to have the apartment complex’s energy usage evaluated and hired Tusick & Associates Architects (TAA) as their consultant in 2009. To start, they requested an energy evaluation of the four apartment buildings. Before beginning the evaluation, the new management and TAA met to strategize on an action plan. The decision was that the first phase would concentrate on a plan to reduce water usage. The next phase would address the amount of electricity used and its reduction. Then the same evaluation would occur with the natural gas usage.

The management staff wanted the maintenance staff to handle the water reduction plan modifications. Vacated units and occupied units that required immediate repairs were addressed first. It was a slow process since the maintenance crew was still responsible for completing all the normal maintenance tasks. From April 2009 through April 2010 the water consumption usage was reduced by 66%. Water rates increased, but the water bill was still reduced by 42% and the vacancy rate when from 21% to 4.7% in a year’s time. The Apartment complex had more tenants while using less water.

As a result of Tusick & Associates’ expertise, there is now one happy apartment manager!