At Hord Coplan Macht, Every Day is Earth Day


While Earth Day is celebrated annually on April 22nd, we like to think that everyday is Earth Day at Hord Coplan Macht. As a firm that wholeheartedly believes that well-designed, sustainable, and healthy buildings benefit the communities they’re in, we have substantial experience with Sustainability and Well-Being Rating Systems. In fact, we’ve worked on 126 LEED projects, including 58 certified, totaling over 4.8 million square feet. In honor of Earth Day and in celebration of all the hard work that goes into our sustainability practice, we talked to two of our Directors of Sustainability, Ara Massey, LEED AP BD+C, WELL AP, from HCM’s Denver office and Lisa Ferretto, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, WELL AP, GGP from our Baltimore office:

How did you find yourself in the sustainability field? Why did you choose this path/why is it so important to you?

Ara: As a young girl growing up in coastal California, I once lived in a redwood tree “stump house” off the grid built by my father where my family grew, raised, or hunted for our food and natural remedies. During that time, I was very disturbed by the trash littering the beaches and clogging the waves in which I played. These experiences provided the foundation for my dedication to conservation, environmental stewardship, and holistic wellness.


Lisa: I was always in this field – when I was eight years old, I designed an “eco-city,” (that not only received a 100%) but that encompassed sustainable strategies such as density, community, public transportation, habitat restoration, open space, heat island effect, people and food production. That interconnected and holistic system of design and sustainability that is a natural and instinctive part of who I am, and my process and approach.

Tell us about a project or two that you’re proud of from a sustainability standpoint?

Ara: I am particularly proud of the curriculum we designed based on the high-performance features of Colorado’s Finest High School of Choice that explores the relationship between human ecology, natural ecology, and the building. This curriculum allowed us to reach further than we typically can as designers of the building and be instrumental in teaching generations of students about sustainability. I am also very proud of Prairie Heights Middle School, where a solar array was installed to offset nearly all the building’s electrical use.


Lisa: Green Street Academy stands out for me because we helped the school fulfill their vision to inspire students to imagine their careers through the prism of sustainability while also transforming a historic building from near abandonment to a community anchor. It achieved a LEED platinum ranking, making Green Street Academy in West Baltimore the second largest LEED for Schools v3 project certified platinum in the world and the only one in the state!

HCM has a number of accreditations – give us the highlights of what some of these titles and awards mean for HCM.

Ara: Its very rewarding to be recognized for the dedication our firm has to sustainability.  Our project teams work hard to prioritize sustainability and having that effort acknowledges both validates our efforts and the commitment of our clients. 

What would be HCM’s guiding principle or motto when it comes to sustainability and environmentally-friendly buildings as a whole?

Ara: “Design for a Sustainable Future”

Lisa: Our mission is to create innovative and collaborative design solutions for people in their buildings, sites, and communities by integrating strategies that support and enhance health and well-being, resiliency, performance, financial investment, and environmental responsibility including minimizing climate change.

What’s your personal guiding principle or motto when it comes to sustainability?

Ara: “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children”

Lisa:  “Nothing exists in isolation – everything is connected to everything else”   

What’s a small or easy step that everyone can take to be more green?

Ara: Think about what you consume; what went into making it? How long will it last or be wanted? What impact will it have and what is the true cost of ownership?

Why is Earth Day important?

Ara: The Earth is the one thing every person, place, or thing has in common and should be taken into consideration at least one day a year!


HCM is not only committed to improving the lives of the people that live, work, and learn in our buildings, but also going the extra mile to make sure we do so sustainably. Sound like a cause you could get on board with? We’re hiring.