Austin, Texas-based McKinney York Architects often weaves sustainable design ideas into its work. So when the 14-person firm moved into a building in the East Austin neighborhood last year, it worked hard to make the cost-conscious renovation as green as possible. “Where we were already going to have to spend money, we did it in the most sustainable way we could,” says principal Heather McKinney, FAIA, LEED AP.

She and her partners focused in particular on lowering energy and water consumption, with a carbon-neutral office as their long-term goal. They replaced existing single-pane windows with low-E double glazing, which reduced street noise and heating bills. The bathroom features low-flow fixtures and super-efficient Dyson Airblade hand dryers. And McKinney says the firm hopes to eventually install solar panels on the building's flat roof.

McKinney York also considered the environmental impact of employees' commutes. The firm chose a location close to a rail station, making public transportation a convenient option. Additionally, it installed showers for staff members who bike to work.