One of our core values at Lionakis is doing the right thing, we are committed to sustainability and doing the right thing for our clients and the environment. As a core value, sustainability is integrated into all that we do! We have long been committed to finding ways to reduce our impact on the planet. Through our commitment to doing the right thing, Lionakis is recognized as a regional leader in sustainable design. When helping you plan your site, Lionakis works with you to determine sustainable considerations that are ideal for your specific project, space and budget. Here are five projects to highlight what can be done with a sustainable approach.



Sustainable site design involves sensitivity to building orientation, prevailing winds, solar control and topography. Other strategies include minimizing paving through the use of permeable materials and using native plant materials for landscaping in order to minimize irrigation. Trees should be planted to provide shade for the building and any natural waterways should be preserved. Lionakis is sensitive in preserving the natural conditions of each site and utilizing sound design practices to produce environmentally friendly solutions for our clients. For the San Jose Evergreen Project, which also achieved LEED Platinum certification, here are just a few of the methods we used:

Indoor/outdoor air ventilation & circulation and water use reduction practices

Daylighting as the main light source, resulting in significant power use decreases

Valuing diversity in active design – 40% of the current student body is female (Project Drawdown advocates for global access to education for women and girls)

Partnering with local businesses that would eventually be hiring the students

Lionakis completed a design-build project for Cosumnes River College that was aiming for LEED Gold, but ultimately achieved LEED Platinum without extra budget dollars having to be factored in. Project Drawdown has identified solar energy and particularly, rooftop solar as a top 10 solution towards improving the environment and our planet as a whole. For the Winn Center, we collaboratively based our design approach on having the building ultimately become a long-term teaching tool, in addition to incorporating significant sustainable functions. One of these functions was the use of photovoltaic solar panels. Just a few of the other ways this build received the coveted LEED Platinum status are:

Ample natural daylight throughout the building with views of the outdoors

Low-VOC materials used in all interior spaces

Use of recycled materials and wood from forests with sustainable practices

 Low-flow plumbing fixtures and low-water-use plant species


Our in-house sustainability studio helped achieve LEED Gold on this new building and it is now a solid, high-performance education facility. It features a geothermal-based mechanical system that makes it highly efficient and the ability for temperatures to be controlled in all spaces. Project Drawdown ranks geothermal technology as the 18th most important factor in environmental long-term solutions and Lionakis is proud to be on board with experience in this area. Geothermal power is literally “earth heat” and it involves tapping into underground reservoirs of steamy hot water, which can be piped to the surface to drive turbines that produce electricity. Geothermal is reliable, abundant, and efficient. The actual heat source itself is free. Some of the other sustainable features of this build include:

Drought tolerant landscaping

Building orientation that takes full advantage of daylight

Full array of rooftop solar photovoltaics which generates approximately 25% of the building’s energy requirements

Lowered energy, operations and maintenance costs along with reduced overall carbon footprint

Nestled sustainably in the Yosemite Community College District is the award-winning Science and Natural Resources Building of Columbia College. Certified LEED Gold, there are numerous features which contribute to the building’s sustainability roster. The building orientation allows for solar electric power, solar water heating and tubular skylights for lighting and long-term energy savings. The exterior canopy and walkways make for impromptu community gathering spaces and also reduce direct heat gain from the sun. The recycled materials and finishes further enhance the natural rustic palette while also being put through a second life cycle. More detailed features include:

Geothermal heating and cooling

High-efficiency electrical transformers

High-efficiency heating and air conditioning

 Energy Metering System to measure efficiency


This new science center in the Yosemite Community College District is a living example of how we’re beginning to discover just how far sustainable and integrated design can go in the newly built environment. Certified LEED Silver, this combination Science Center and Community Center has introduced and successfully implemented a true representation of Science on Display. Everything from landscaping, to artwork to design and to the labs themselves tie into this shared concept. At over 109,000 square feet it houses an entire science program, a community museum as well as faculty and division offices and laboratories. Just a few of the sustainable implementations worth noting:

Fundamental and enhanced refrigerant management. Project Drawdown lists this as the #1 thing we can do to help the environment

 Alternative transportation, bicycle storage and changing rooms

Storage and collection of recyclables

Indoor chemical and pollutant source control

With over 180 professionals and 5 offices throughout California and Hawaii, Lionakis is perfectly positioned to help your project actualize outstanding contemporary design and architectural solutions that incorporate award-winning sustainable measures in ways that save cost over time, improve the lives of people and our planet.