Johnston Design Group names Casey Smithling as an Associate

Casey Smithling joined us five years ago as a designer. Since then, she’s become a project manager, licensed project architect and LEED Green Associate.

Now she has a new title — Associate. We caught up with her to see what it all means.

What are you working on these days?

I’m working on multi-family, senior living, and smaller upfit projects in Rock Hill, Greenville, and Richmond, Virginia. It’s what I’ve always done, but now I’m also more involved in construction and project management.

I’m also more of a team leader. I’ve been able to keep building on my knowledge base while helping other designers grow into their roles, which is exciting.

Are you seeing more interest in restorative design?

I am! Our clients come to us for many reasons, including the fact that we promote green building practices and use passive techniques to reduce environmental impact.

Our projects don’t always lead to a LEED certification, but we look for opportunities to use reclaimed materials, solar power and be more energy efficient. We like a smaller carbon footprint.

The value of restorative design will only increase as the years go by. We’ve been doing it for a long time and our clients want that experience and expertise.

Plus, our designs make beautiful buildings.

With more firms adopting sustainable and restorative practices, how does Johnston Design Group stand out?

We always ask what we can do to get clients on board. Sometimes that means educating them about passive design techniques and the benefits.

For new construction, we look at the building orientation, site placement, and solar studies. For existing buildings, it’s a little trickier, but first and foremost, we try to make sure the building envelope is updated to be efficient.

With existing buildings, there are usually unique opportunities to use reclaimed materials.

The firm recommends solar power, although more residential clients ask about it, because they know solar power lowers their bills and can be capitalized.

We aren’t fanatics and we don’t have an all-or-nothing mindset. When clients see the benefits of our approach, including the cost savings, they’re excited about including them in their project.

Can you tell us about your work with the firm’s work in retrofitting and rehabbing old buildings?

We’re doing more and more of these projects, where the building is dilapidated and falling apart, and there are hundreds of these buildings in the area.

109 West Stone, on Stone Avenue in Greenville, is a good example of what we do. It’s my favorite kind of project because we’re changing the situation — taking a historic structure as a starting point, then combining reclaimed materials with our restorative design, and making a new space for the community to enjoy.

Like everybody who works here, I love the variety of projects we take on — and after five years here, I’m braver and ready to take on different challenges.

Congratulations, Casey!

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