Skip to main content

Matrix by Callison

Explore five categories and over 80 sustainable design strategies


1.0 Energy

This section covers strategies that reduce operational energy and costs. Incorporating design measures such as daylight and clean air access not only leads to higher performance buildings, but increases health, safety and productivity of occupants.

Show: All | The Matrix for Retail


2.0 Water

Access and supply of clean water is difficult in many parts of the world. The water tool includes measures that reduce demand and encourage re-use of non-potable water.

Show: All | The Matrix for Retail


3.0 Waste

The waste tool highlights strategies to reduce, filter and reuse wastewater and solid waste to reduce utility costs and potable water demand.

Show: All | The Matrix for Retail


4.0 Materials

Material harvest, manufacturing, installation and disposal contribute to natural resource depletion, carbon emissions and landfill contributions. This section covers strategies that reduce the environmental impact of building materials through the use of regional, recycled, recyclable and/or salvaged materials, as well as enhance indoor air quality through reduction of chemical and particle emissions.

Show: All | The Matrix for Retail


5.0 Tools

Design tools such as eco-charrettes, BIM and energy modeling help maximize a project's potential and assure the design will function as intended.

Show: All | The Matrix for Retail


Learn about the Matrix by Callison and how to use it
Matrix by Callison is a free design strategies tool. Design is derived equally from performance-driven and aesthetic choices and Matrix by Callison provides high-performing strategies that foster aesthetic exploration and design definition.

Matrix by Callison streamlines the design process by identifying and selecting the top sustainable design strategies for any given project.

With the Matrix by Callison you can evaluate over 80 specific strategies in five categories to increase design performance.

You can collect and download strategies for your own use by adding them to Your Book.

Matrix by Callison will help you:

  1. Substantiate your design decisions through an analytical, methodical and easy to present process
  2. Improve occupant performance, productivity and health
  3. Reduce operational cost (energy, water and waste)
  4. Increase resale value through high-performance design
  5. Reduce exposure to utility price volatility
  6. Reduce exposure to regulatory uncertainty
  7. Improve public profile and achieve third party endorsement (i.e. LEED certification)
  8. Improve tenant, customer, and employee retention
  9. Take advantage of Energy Code and industry incentives as well as local, state and federal tax credits
  10. Accelerate the entitlement process

How to use the Matrix by Callison:

  1. Select “Matrix” in the top navigation menu to explore the five sustainable design categories. The strategy content for the “Energy” category will already be displayed.
  2. Scroll down and select a sustainable design category.
  3. If you want to highlight retail specific sustainable strategies, select “The Matrix for Retail” link.
  4. Once you have expanded the contents of a category, click on a specific strategy to view more details.
  5. If you would like a copy of the information, select “Add To Your Book” while you are still on the details page.
  6. You can remove previously selected strategy details by clicking on the “Remove From Your Book” button.
  7. If you would like to continue researching other strategies, close the current page or use the back browser arrow button. You can also click on the “MATRIX” tab in the site navigation.
  8. When you are ready to download your customized Matrix book, click on the “Your Book” tab in the site navigation.
  9. Enter your email address in the field box and click on “Download Your Book.”
  10. Your PDF book is now downloaded to your computer.

Matrix by Callison consists of five sustainable design categories:

1.0 Energy

Energy strategies help to reduce operational energy & costs and increase performance values relative to both: occupant health, safety and productivity and design resilience.

2.0 Water

Water strategies help to reduce demand and encourage re-use of non-potable water.

3.0 Waste

Waste strategies help to reduce, filter and reuse wastewater and solid waste.

4.0 Materials

Materials strategies help to reduce the environmental impact of building materials and maximize occupant safety.

5.0 Tools

Design tools such as eco-charrettes, building information modeling (BIM) and energy modeling help maximize a project's potential and assure the design will function as intended. Individual strategies are explained in detail and are cross-referenced with industry links we’ve found relevant.

*For the purposes of this tool, Callison defines sustainable design as an approach to building procurement and other urban development where the goal is to achieve zero net environment impact, as expressed in the AIA 2030 commitment.


Answers to your questions
For more information about the Matrix by Callison, or if you need support, please contact

Why is Callison hosting the Matrix by Callison website?

Design is derived equally from performance-driven and aesthetic choices and the Matrix by Callison seeks to provide the necessary background relative to high-performing design drivers that will serve as a basis for aesthetic exploration and definition. We are passionate about design. Design should work well, look attractive, be resource-efficient, look resource efficient and meet the benchmarks of economy and marketability. By hosting the Matrix by Callison we disseminate valuable information that will make it easier for everyone to streamline the process of evaluating sustainable design strategies for their relative merit and applicability. Given this information, you are empowered to unlearn old habits and explore a new design aesthetic, expressed by performance and environmental values. What is good for the environment is good for business.

Who would benefit from using information from the Matrix by Callison?

Architects, Designers, Engineers, Planners, Investors, Real Estate Developers, Property Owners, Academia.

Is the Matrix by Callison a free resource?

Yes, the Matrix by Callison is a free-of-charge online tool.

Do I need to create a user account to use the Matrix by Callison?

No. In order to download and save pdf documents you only need to submit your first name, last name and e-mail address.

When I select a strategy in a sustainable design category (e.g., 1.0 Energy, 1.1.1 Site Selection), what does “cost” mean?

The Cost bar reflects our collective market experience and serves as a relative, qualitative measure to gauge initial capital cost impact, relative to default/industry standards or ‘do nothing’ of any given challenge. The bar is a conceptual guide, to be used in the evaluation of the economic weight of a given strategy choice, only.

Where does the Matrix by Callison information come from and how was it developed?

The Matrix by Callison is the product of extensive technology and market research and has been derived from many years of international, professional experience by in-house architects and designers. Matthias Olt is responsible for ideation, tool design and development and Joey-Michelle Hutchison is leading the tool’s expansion and maintenance.

Does this tool have any applicability for property owners and users of existing buildings?

The tool’s predominant purpose is as a design tool for new construction however it is also useful for real-estate and facilities management decisions relative to existing buildings and respective performance-improvement opportunities.

When is the best time to apply these sustainability strategies during a building’s design process?

The maximum benefit of this tool is during the architectural planning phases of Concept and Schematic Design.

When I add the Matrix by Callison strategies to my pdf book, what can I do with the information?

You may e-mail this information to yourself and use it toward your goals of improved design performance relative to climate, culture, and environmental and economic resourcefulness.

Why is there a filter function specifically for retail content? Aren’t there other applicable industries, venues or communities that have unique sustainability strategies too?

Retail design is one of Callison's core market sectors and offers a very specific performance potential relative to effective sustainable design strategies. Retail design is predominantly focused in the interiors of a space, only. Our other core market sectors (i.e. high-rise design, corporate office, mixed-use, residential, hospitality, health care and mission critical) do not require a strategies filter as the applicable design performance choices are broader, affecting the entire building and beyond.

How often is the Matrix by Callison content updated?

The Matrix by Callison content is updated quarterly.

May I add the Matrix by Callison website as a hyperlink to my website?

Yes, we encourage you to spread the word and share the knowledge.

Are there more sustainable design categories or topics not covered in the Matrix by Callison?

Design is an ever-evolving field, reflecting the changes in our society, economics and environment. New strategies and ‘ways of doing things’ constantly emerge and we are trying to reflect the most relevant sustainable design strategies, relative to the building industry, here.

Can Callison help with services mentioned in the "Tools" sustainable design category (e.g., computer modeling, energy and daylight modeling, LEED certification, code and zoning research, developing eco-charrette presentations, translate strategies into a compelling design aesthetic)?

Yes, Callison services include all of the above.


Experience, outlook and other values
Articles are culled from Callison’s blog, Charrette. Additional content highlights Callison’s Sustainable Design projects and services.

Sustainability through Data-Driven Design

Recently Eddy Santosa and I ventured to the “Data-Driven Design Forum,” an exciting conference where local and national firms meet to share and spread new ideas about sustainability through showcasing successful completed works.  As members of Callison’s sustainable design team, Eddy and I were there to see new up and coming design trends such as Net Zero design, as exampled in the Bullitt Center, and new computer modeling techniques for natural daylighting. These are all techniques that are currently in use at Callison, and in seeing them it was nice to reaffirm our status as a firm that also resides on the cutting edge of sustainability.

If you’re not a sustainability architect you might be asking, what is Data-Driven Design (DDD) and what does it have to do with sustainability? DDD in its essence allows architects, designers and engineers to collect data that analyzes building performance (e.g., energy usage) under various circumstances. Over time that data, which can be collected from computer modeling or real world measurements, gives designers the ability to decrease energy usage by incorporating certain efficiencies into architectural plans. For example, at Callison we primarily focus on the data obtained from the Department of Energy website that tracks weather patterns. By understanding these weather patterns we’re able to alter the bearing and shape of buildings based on sun and wind exposure. Taking these environmental effects into account we’re able to increase our buildings efficiencies, depending on the climate, by maximizing shade time and utilizing natural cross ventilation for cooling, yet still allowing for natural daylight to decrease the need for artificial lighting.

The Bullitt Center, Seattle’s first net zero office building by the Miller Hull partnership, is an excellent example of this data in action. Data collected at the conception of the design came primarily from an early energy-modeling program called E-quest that comprehensively predicts buildings energy consumption. By running multiple simulations against preexisting designs that benchmark sustainability, designers can choose the most appropriate building attributes to integrate based on climate, location and usage.

A presentation that particularly fascinated us, from Dr. Carl Hensman of the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, outlined the importance of water conservation in relation to sustainable energy concepts. Dr. Hensman, pointed out stats that show increased energy consumption correlates with increased water usage. He discussed the importance of “reinventing the toilet” to minimize water and energy usage―driving home that sustainable design is a two pronged effort that must focus on both reducing carbon emissions and the practice of conserving life sustaining resources.

The Forum was stimulating for Eddy and I not just because of the amazing work of our industry peers, but also because Callison is actively promoting and participating in the same practices. Recently, Callison trained eight new energy modelers in all of the aforementioned programs. On top of that we’ve created the Matrix by Callison, an online collection of strategies with open accessibility that helps promote sustainable design. At Callison it’s our belief that the more we share, the faster sustainability will grow and develop much like the open source computer programs that have helped shape the digital world. All in all, it feels wonderful realizing that we’re all integral parts of something so important and so much larger than ourselves.


Author: Anton Toth