Tate Walker of OPN Architects named 2015 LEED Fellow

Tate Walker

Tate Walker, LEED Fellow Sustainability Director

OPN Architects’ Sustainability Director Tate Walker has been named a 2015 LEED Fellow by Green Business Certification Inc, the premier organization independently recognizing excellence in green business industry performance and practice globally.

This year’s 35 Fellows are honored for their outstanding work as LEED Professionals and for the significance of their contributions to the green building community at large. The LEED Fellow designates the most exceptional professionals and it is the most prestigious designation awarded from GBCI.

Tate, who leads sustainability for all three of OPN’s locations from the firm’s Madison, Wis., office, is one of approximately 200 LEED Fellows and the only architect in Wisconsin and Iowa to receive this designation.

“Being named a LEED Fellow so early in his career is a testament to Tate’s dedication pushing our industry to think differently about integrating sustainable solutions into our designs,” says OPN Principal and President Daniel Thies. “He is an invaluable member of our team, and I cannot imagine an more deserving individual for this honor.”

Tate’s recognition is a reflection of his ardent belief that the nexus between architecture and energy provides leadership opportunities for architects as creative problem solvers, particularly for those that willing to stretch practice beyond its traditional boundaries.

As an architect focused on energy and sustainability in the built environment, he steers OPN’s sustainability initiatives, focusing on energy research, technology evaluation, and high performance design. He regularly writes and presents on issues relating to energy, technology, building science, and promoting environmental awareness through design. His experience includes integrating teams, design charrettes, building systems, and sustainability initiatives on capital projects.

“Tate drives innovation and adoption through his own actions” says Wesley Reynolds, Principal in OPN’s Madison office. “He displays extraordinary excellence in numerous areas of practice.”

Tate has worked nationally for clients such as Northwestern University, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Iowa State University. He served  the United States Green Building Council in various capacities since 2008 and has been a leader within the Wisconsin Green Building Alliance since 2005, including serving as the organization’s vice president in 2009.

At OPN, Tate led the adoption and administration of the 2030 Challenge to transition to net zero energy buildings. He also is chair of the firm’s annual Green Day event and an internal sustainability committee.

He is currently leading the sustainable design for the new Advanced Teaching and Research Building for the Biosciences at Iowa State University, which is targeting LEED Gold. The 115,000 square foot, $52 million project will be an anchor building on campus, incorporating innovative site, water, advanced materials and daylighting components to support a unique, sustainable experience for its users.

Tate is also at the helm of the sustainable design of the Krause Gateway Center, Kum & Go’s new downtown Des Moines headquarters. Designed to achieve LEED certification, plans for the five-story building incorporate a large green roof to decrease the impact of energy use and water runoff. Roof overhangs further reduce energy consumption, as well as provide architectural interest to the design.

Sustainable design has always been ingrained in the culture of OPN. That’s what drew Tate to the firm nearly two years ago when OPN expanded to Madison.

“I’ve always felt like we have something really special here at OPN. I want to elevate that. Make it a bigger part of the conversation. Make people feel more comfortable bragging about what they’ve done,” he says. “We’re working at or above what’s being done on a national level and we’re really humble about it.”

It’s the firm’s size and attention to detail, he says, that empowers each architect to design sustainably with the client in mind.

“That relationship that you have with your team and your client just makes better buildings,” he says. “The best solutions are about place and culture. That’s what’s unique about what we have here, what makes it relevant and innovative.”

To be selected, LEED Fellows are nominated by their peers, undergo an extensive portfolio review, must have at least 10 years of experience in the green building industry and hold a LEED AP with specialty credential, among other requirements. The evaluation process is carried out by the LEED Fellow evaluation committee.

The 2015 LEED Fellows will be recognized in Washington, DC at the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, which is being held Nov.18-20, 2015.

Established in 2008, GBCI exclusively administers project certifications and professional credentials and certificates within the framework of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating systems as well as the PEER standard for power systems, the WELL building standard, the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES®) and the GRESB benchmark, which is used by institutional investors to improve the sustainability performance of the global property sector.

OPN has more than 100 people working in Cedar Rapids and Des Moines, Iowa, and Madison, Wisconsin. The firm has won wide recognition for their design work and are listed by Architectural Record in the top 100 Design Firms nationally. OPN practices a holistic blend of architecture, planning and design across varied market types and projects of all scopes and sizes.