Our Approach

We adopt a common sense approach to sustainability and believe that doing the right thing doesn’t necessarily have to be showy and more expensive. We haven’t adopted these practices to win awards or collect points, but from a real commitment to reversing climate change, through more conscious building practices. We try to implement the following on all our projects:

Buildings, and building elements should be reused and repurposed whenever possible to divert waste from landfills, and reduce embodied carbon.

Any project can achieve net zero operating carbon, or at least be net zero ready. We achieve this through tested standard details, attention to passive solar design, and use of energy efficient all electric systems. This positions our clients to purchase solar energy to offset use, or install on site solar panels.

Continued analysis of our building materials to evaluate embodied carbon and provide year to year reductions in carbon footprint for our projects.


These terms can be mystefying for our clients. When we refer to operating carbon, we simply mean the amount of carbon dioxide produced generating electricity for our homes, or fossil fuels burned in the heating of our homes. Net zero operating carbon in turn means that we’re using all electric systems to heat and cool the home, minimize the amount electricity required to that, and then offsetting that use with on or off site solar or wind power. Embodied carbon on the other hand refers to the amount of carbon dioxide emitted in the production of the materials that we use to build our buildings. The number one way to reduce this is to reuse existing buildings. The second is to use materials that capture more carbon than they emit, like wood and other organic products, over energy intensive materials like concrete or metal. Minimizing operating and embodied carbon allows us to make the biggest impact.


Founder Gideon Stone is passionate about building reuse and is a sitting Board Member of Ithaca Reuse, our local building recycling and resale organization. Gideon has brought this passion to Trade Design Build, and we look for projects where we can rehabilitate old buildings and spaces, or if a building must come down, look at ways to ensure the building is recycled, rather than demolished. Gideon recently coordinated the deconstruction of a series of homes in Ithaca, in collaboration with Cornell’s Circular Construction Lab and Director Felix Heisel.


Trade Design Build uses Autodesk Revit to develop initial concept designs. Revit is a Building Information Modeling (BIM) tool in which we’re modeling three-dimensional, digital equivalents to real world construction assemblies. A wall modeled in Revit as the same components and physical properties that a real wall would, including structural and thermal properties. Through Revit’s integration with Autodesk Insight, an energy modeling program, we’re able to evaluate the performance of building systems and concepts early in the design process, which in turn informs our design decision making.


We also leverage Revit’s assembly information to track and evaluate the embodied carbon footprint of our building systems. Revit is also able to quantify the amount of material associated with model elements. We use this information, and Autodesk’s Tally plug-in to associate real world carbon footprint information with materials embedded in Revit. We’re then able to run multiple scenarios during early stage design to evaluate the embodied carbon in different design iterations, or material choices.