Award | Austin Green Awards


Two MRA projects, LifeWorks and the AISD Performing Arts Center, took top honors at the inaugural Austin Green Awards celebration. Launched this year, the awards are the first such program "to specifically highlight the outstanding accomplishments in the broad arena of sustainable design and innovation" in Austin.


The seamless integration of sustainability into all aspects of LifeWorks sets a precedent for responsible development that encourages public health, connectivity and diversity in fractured, low-income communities. LifeWorks is only the fourth commercial project to receive a 5-star sustainability rating from the Austin Energy Green Building program, the nation’s first green building program and the model for the LEED certification system. Since the commercial rating program’s inception in 1995, a mere 2.7% of projects have achieved a 5-star rating.


Compared to a baseline case study, LifeWorks achieves 79.6% less overall energy use, 80% less irrigation potable water use, and 28.3% less indoor potable water use. Over 90% of occupied spaces have exterior views, while light and occupancy sensors monitor energy usage. 52.5% of building materials were sourced in state, the building contains 31.4% recycled content, and 82.9% of construction waste (120 tons) was recycled or salvaged.

AISD Performing Arts Center

From the outset, sustainability was conceived of as a central part of the design of the AISD Performing Arts Center. The project received LEED Gold certification, and became the sixth commercial building to earn a 5-star rating from Austin Energy Green Building, the nation’s first green building program and the model for the LEED system. A 60-kiloWatt rooftop solar array offsets up to 8% of the building’s annual energy needs, while daylit offices and public spaces reduce the overall energy use. Graywater is used for toilets and all irrigation, eliminating potable water used for irrigation, and all plant species are native or adapted.

When compared to a baseline case study, the Performing Arts Center achieves the following: 23% less overall energy use; 100% less irrigation potable water use; and 33% less indoor potable water use. 44% of building materials were sourced within 500 miles, and the building contains 33% recycled content. Situated near multiple bus lines and a planned future light rail line, the center is also equipped with bicycle racks, lockers, showers, and electric car charging stations.