Why Biophilic Design Matters

Since Optima’s founding, we have thoughtfully developed environments where nature and architecture coexist. This principle of sustainability – known throughout architecture as biophilic design – is becoming increasingly popular across the world throughout all types of built environments.

The process of biophilic design isn’t anything new to the world of architecture; however, in recent years, the design principle has seen a renaissance. Today, biophilic design is used within modern architecture as a method to fulfill the inherent connection between humans and nature. 

Because our natural habitats have increasingly become built environments, designers and architects have discovered the significant value of adding biophilic elements into all kinds of structures to enhance the relationship between natural and built environments. The framework for designing these biophilic environments consists of employing both direct and indirect experiences of nature. Direct experiences incorporate everything from natural light, fresh air and organic landscapes, while indirect experiences include utilizing natural materials and colors and ecological attachments to a location. Everything from skylights to green walls to fountains all apply the conventions attached to the design principle. 

Health Benefits

Beyond creating connectivity to natural environments, biophilic design also supplies an ample amount of benefits to both its surroundings and those who inhabit them. One of the most prolific benefits attached to the design principle is the improvement of air quality. Designs that employ vibrant greenery absorb the natural toxins in the air, ultimately enhancing the atmosphere.

Having access to vegetation and other models of biophilia also has a direct impact on happiness and wellbeing. When design principles like natural light and ventilation are introduced into built environments, a greater appreciation forms – establishing a more welcoming, advantageous space. 

Biophilic Design in Optima

Throughout our communities at Optima, we use biophilic design to improve the lives of our residents and complement their beautiful surroundings and communities. In our latest project, Optima Lakeview, we’re employing biophilic design throughout many elements of the architecture.

The development features a stunning atrium that includes our signature vertical landscaping system within it. At the atrium’s top, an expansive skylight fills the space below it with an abundance of natural light. Optima Lakeview is also home to a variety of private terraces and setbacks featuring lush vegetation and ensuring residents a seamless transition from outdoor to indoor environment.

From the materials used in construction to the greenery placed throughout a building, more and more architects are discovering how to include biophilic design within their builds, connecting their built environment with the natural world around them.

The History of IgCC

When it was developed, Optima Sonoran Village had the privilege of being the pilot project for Scottsdale’s International Green Construction Code, an alternative to LEED fully managed by local municipalities, and was one of the first projects in the world certified under IgCC. To understand the true breadth of its merit, we’re taking a deep dive into the code: its history, its mission and its modern day impact. 

History of IgCC

IgCC was first conceptualized by the International Code Council (ICC), a nonprofit association that provides a wide range of building safety solutions including product evaluation, accreditation, certification, codification and training. ICC also develops model codes and standards that are used around the world to construct safe, sustainable, affordable and resilient structures. 

ICC realized that there was a significant gap in construction in the way of a mandatory baseline of codes that would address green commercial construction. This kind of regulatory framework was becoming an increasingly appealing concept, with many local and state jurisdictions already exploring their own potential “substitute codes.” 

In response to the call, ICC collaborated with cooperating sponsors – the American Institute of Architects (AIA), ASTM International, ASHRAE, the U.S. Green Building Council (USBGC) and the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) to help get the code passed. And in 2010, ICC established The International Green Construction Code(IgCC) to provide model code regulations that promote safe and sustainable construction. 

IgCC Today

IgCC “provides the design and construction industry with the single, most effective way to deliver sustainable, resilient, high-performance buildings.” Support of the IgCC promotes a new era of building design and construction that includes environmental health and safety as code minimums.

Benefits of certification under IgCC abound; IgCC certification includes measures that result in better indoor environments, lower impact on natural resources, better neighborhood connections and improved walkability, increased resilience to natural disasters and climate change, resource consumption/management and service interruptions.


IgCC vertical landscaping at Optima Sonoran Village
Vertical landscaping at Optima Sonoran Village

IgCC and Optima

IgCC operates as a code that can be easily adapted by public or private entities, allowing government jurisdictions to adopt it and save themselves the labor of creating their own code. Arizona took advantage of this opportunity, adopting the IgCC, which then took effect in January of 2017. 

It was at that time that Optima Sonoran Village became a pilot project for IgCC in Arizona.

Optima Sonoran Village IGCC attributes include major building elements consisting of 95 perfect local and recycled content materials; energy efficiency as a result of the high-performing glazing, overhangs, building configurations and exterior shading devices; water resource conservation from plumbing fixtures and excellent indoor environmental quality and reduced material emissions from the materials used in the development. Because of its environmentally-friendly construction, Optima Sonoran Village passed muster and was one of the first buildings in the world to earn certification.

Optima will continue to push the boundaries of building in pursuit of new and sustainable ways to contribute to our built environment. ICC is an association that will continue to do the same—we look forward to a world in which green building is commonplace. 


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Maintenance Supervisor

Glencoe, IL

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