We design for you. And your planet.

In the early 2000s, green practices were taking hold in commercial building industries. But we noticed something. There was little talk of sustainability in the residential market.

For Shelter, that was a significant moment.

Our team chose to embrace — and champion — earth-friendly approaches throughout our work. We pledged to create beautiful environments that could save energy, reduce pollution and inspire people. This commitment fueled our designs for one of the first net-zero energy building in the U.S. and the first LEED-H Platinum-certified home in Minnesota. We also received a LEED-H Silver-certification for, of all things, the renovation of a classic Victorian Home. And we’ve helped organizations including Mayflower Church champion the movement to improve aging building stock already in use.

Now, we’ve reached another important moment.

Today’s sustainable design solutions are more wide-ranging — and more crucial — than ever before. As early adopters, we’re well positioned to build on our experience and extend our leadership in this arena.

So, we’re exploring new building methods and materials. We’re incorporating renewable energy systems into our designs. And we’re partnering with clients to create spaces that meet rigorous sustainability standards — including those of the Living Building Challenge. Five main principles guide our thinking around sustainable design:

We welcome all opportunities to help people live and work more sustainably. From the day we opened our doors, that’s been a core component of our mission.


How our ongoing commitment informs our work

Our team designed one of the first net-zero energy buildings in the U.S. We were early adopters of solar panels and green roofs.

Discover some of Shelter’s legacy sustainable projects:

Learn what LEED-certified means

We’re a signatory firm of The 2030 Challenge. The national effort helps architects and designers respond to climate change by reducing energy use and carbon emissions within the built environment.

We’re also pursuing comprehensive and rigorous commitments to sustainable design and building practices through our engagement with the following International Living Future Institute’s programs and standards:

From paint to furniture to floor coverings, we’re savvy at sourcing materials and products that use green manufacturing methods — and don’t bring toxins or off-gassing into our clients’ environments. We’re compiling our own “red list” of chemicals, carcinogens and other substances to avoid as we make our design choices. And we work with vendors and installers who share our diligence in this area, which is often reflected in a Declare label.

We often use passive design strategies, such as placing windows or orienting footprints in ways that maximize — or minimize — the amount of heat that sunlight will generate inside a building.

We can design spaces to promote healthier habits and environmental advocacy. For example: We might arrange a kitchen so that it’s easier to place waste in a recycling or organics container than a trash can. Or we could design food storage and prep areas to support the use of fresh ingredients while cooking. We see design as a pathway to help people pursue wellness.

We use energy modeling software to project and compare how specific design decisions would affect a building’s energy use.

Sustainable design doesn’t have to be expensive. It can even result in cost savings over time. For example: We can choose approaches that will reduce the need for auxiliary heating or cooling.

Shelter president and CEO Jackie Millea has earned Living Future Accreditation (LFA), reflecting our firm’s dedication to the aspirations and rigorous sustainability standards of the Living Building Challenge.