Biography

David White has been practicing, studying, and teaching about built environments since 1998.  Through Right Environments, he supports people committed to making better buildings with technical expertise and facilitation.  David is a Certified Passive House Consultant.

Teaching has played a central role in David's work, including professional training and university teaching.  David hs taught energy modeling at professional training for the Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) and the Passive House Academy.  He has taught architecture students at UC Berkeley, Columbia, CUNY, Stevens Institute of Technology, and part-time/full-time over many years at the School of Constructed Environments at Parsons The New School.  David garnered the 2014 NCARB Award for SCE, fully stocking a laboratory of building science equipment and linking students with leading professionals.

David has shared his work through publications including Northeast Sun, Environmental Building News, and Detail (see publications & presentations).  He regularly presents on his building and research work at conferences for the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA), the Passive House Institute, PHIUS, and New York Passive House.  Selected research work is available for download on this website (please check back for updates), including a calculator that helps professionals minimize the global warming potential associated with insulation materials.  He serves on building code advisory committees, including for the NYC energy conservation code and for code measures to make NYC construction more resilient.

David studied mechanical engineering and architecture in parallel, both as an undergraduate at Yale College and a graduate student at UC Berkeley.  He worked in energy-efficient building design at Obayashi Corporation in Tokyo, Burt Hill Kosar Rittelmann in Pittsburgh, Short Associates in London, and the Pacific Energy Center in San Francisco, where he wrote the software "Sunpath," which makes sun path diagrams for any type of fisheye projection.  In fall of 2004 he went to work as a climate engineer for Transsolar in Stuttgart, and opened their US office in New York City in 2005.  David represented Transsolar on many ground-breaking buildings, including the Syracuse Center for Excellence, the Klarcheck information commons, and the Asian Culture Complex in Gwangju.

Right Environments was founded in 2009.  The name was inspired by the Buddhist Noble Eight-Fold Path, in which "right" practices support insight.  "Right" is intended here less in the sense of conventional morality and more as a matter of what matters most and how that manifests.  By carefully and methodically examining these questions, we naturally make buildings that reflect our deepest intentions.

Philosophy

"Right" is a matter of values.  Buildings primarily serve their occupants, so occupant health and comfort usually come first with my clients.  Invariably, buildings cost money, use natural resources, and impact life outside their boundaries.  Therefore economy and ecological harmony are also essential values.  Each client, site, and building is different; therefore each value manifests in different objectives for each project.

It continues to baffle (and inspire) me that people automatically perceive economy as though it were in conflict with everything else that we care about in buildings, especially the natural environment.  I think this unrealistic idea, perhaps a holdover from the distant past, inhibits our progress more than technological or economic limits.

It is sometimes true that better than typical construction costs more, but in most cases I've witnessed, it costs less.  Oversized equipment and the space to house it cost money, energy costs money, and repairs cost money.  Badly designed and built details often cost more than well designed, well built details.  It is just a matter of clearly seeing what we value and what we have to work with. 

Please take a look at my work, and let me know how we can work together to make a better world.