AS+GG Launches New Firm, PositivEnergy Practice, with Roger E. Frechette III as Founding President

February 2010

CHICAGO, Feb. 17--The partners of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture LLP are pleased to announce the launch of an affiliated energy services, engineering and consulting firm, PositivEnergy Practice LLC, with Roger E. Frechette III as the new firm's founding president.

PositivEnergy Practice will conceive, design, implement and manage energy performance, resource management and carbon reduction strategies. It will offer energy and engineering services to a broad community of professionals and clients--including corporations, universities, medical campuses, transportation authorities, cities, states and countries around the world--to advance sustainable initiatives and high-performance design on a large scale.

Frechette, a licensed mechanical engineer and LEED-accredited professional with more than two decades of experience in the field of sustainable engineering and building design, joins PositivEnergy after leaving his position as Director in charge of Sustainable Engineering at the Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.

The services of PositivEnergy Practice include new decarbonization and energy master plans; sustainable MEP systems design for new buildings; greening strategies and systems for existing buildings; sustainable techniques for open space, infrastructure and natural assets; funding strategies; and working with providers to develop clean energy applications.

"I see great opportunity for organizations, institutions, towns, cities and countries to make a meaningful investment in their future with the help of our new firm," Frechette said. "This new decade brings with it a renewed sense of hope, but also an unprecedented need for change. The new economy will require us to have smarter systems, higher-performing buildings and greener infrastructure. The process of decarbonization is good for humans, good for the planet and good for business. At PositivEnergy, I feel a renewed sense of purpose."

The new firm will also build on the Chicago Central Area DeCarbonization Plan, an AS+GG project for the City of Chicago that lays out a methodology for meeting the goals of the Chicago Climate Action Plan, which would mean a 25% reduction in carbon emissions below 1990 levels by 2020, and the 2030 Challenge, which set a goal of 100% reduction in carbon emissions for new and renovated buildings by 2030.

"For the past two years, we've been discussing a variety of ways to advance the sustainability agenda of our architecture practice to address the climate and energy challenges that face our world, and we've decided that it's time to act," said Adrian Smith, who joins Frechette, Gordon Gill and Robert Forest as founding principals in the new venture. "We can't keep approaching urban design in the same old ways. Instead, we must move aggressively toward retrofitting our vast existing stock of commercial structures into energy-efficient, energy-generating buildings. For us, forming this new energy company is the obvious way forward. And Roger Frechette, whom we've worked with and admired for many years, is the obvious person to lead this effort."

"Our goal with PositivEnergy is to deepen the ongoing discussion to embrace a truly holistic approach to sustainability--for buildings, institutions and cities," Gill added. "We want to validate sustainable energy practice from technical, lifestyle and economic standpoints, and to do so in a practical way that bridges the gap between policy and promise."

Under Frechette's guidance, a set of PositivEnergy standards will be applied to the areas under study that identifies the extent of savings and reductions expressed in kilowatt hours per year, metric tons of CO2, dollar value, return on investment or timeframe for payback. PositivEnergy will also identify policy actions required to enact and preserve the guidelines of the energy and decarbonization plans, including policies governing shared energy, carbon credits, power to grid, renewable energy generation, etc.

In addition, PositivEnergy Practice will establish a national benchmark for clients' energy use and carbon footprint via a parametric energy/carbon model that can be manipulated in order to produce varied outputs for energy and carbon on a building-by-building or block-by-block basis. PositivEnergy will update the model and report annually to its clients on savings and strategies.

At SOM, Frechette led engineering teams for Burj Khalifa (formerly known as Burj Dubai), which opened last month as the world's tallest building, and Pearl River Tower, the world's most sustainable supertall building, now under construction in Guangzhou, China. (Smith designed Burj Dubai while a Design Partner at SOM. While they were at Skidmore, Gill and Smith collaborated on the design of Pearl River.) Frechette's body of work also includes a wide range of projects ranging from government buildings and museums to laboratories, airports, hospitals, academic buildings and corporate offices.

Frechette is a Senior Fellow with the Design Futures Council, a global network of design community professionals, and a frequent lecturer on high-performance design and green engineering. He is the co-author of Nantucket Principals (2002), which focused on trends and issues influencing green building and sustainable design. In 2004, Frechette was recognized by the United States Congress for his work in sustainability.

PositivEnergy Practice will draw upon Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture's expertise in sustainable projects around the globe, which currently include the positive-energy Masdar Headquarters, which will generate more energy than it uses, now under construction in Masdar City, a carbon-neutral, zero-waste development outside Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. AS+GG's other highly sustainable, high-performance projects include an ongoing greening and modernization of Chicago's Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower), designed to reduce base building electricity use by 80%, and a low-rise residential complex in Vancouver designed to use 90 percent less energy and generate 80 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than typical homes in its neighborhood.

The PositivEnergy Practice offices are located 115 S. LaSalle, Suite 2800, Chicago, Ill., 60603. For more information about the firm, call (312) 870-4300 or visit

About Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture
Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture is dedicated to the design of high-performance architecture and the creation of new paradigms for sustainable development. The office uses a holistic, integrated design approach that emphasizes symbiotic relationship with the natural environment. The approach results in buildings that not only greatly reduce their negative environmental impact, but in some cases virtually eliminate it altogether. AS+GG is currently working on projects in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, China, South Korea, Malaysia, Canada and the United States. The firm was founded in 2006 by partners Adrian Smith, Gordon Gill and Robert Forest. For more information, please visit