Carly Coulson is on a mission to write a new language for green construction, and her term “invisible sustainability” defines that mission in two words. The invisible aspect refers to all the variables that make for a zero-energy equation: sun, shade, air tightness and super-insulation. Already meeting the 2030 Challenge geared toward carbon-neutral buildings, Coulson is passionate about motivating the architecture industry to make the shift.

Since 2009, Coulson has been the principal and owner of the COULSON architecture firm in Duluth, Minnesota.She admits that undertaking the shift to respond to climate change is both exciting and terrifying, but one that is very necessary.

According to Coulson, there is a need to prove to architects that making this shift does not place constrains on their creative design freedom.

“We have to seduce the architect first with the possibilities, magic and beauty, which we often skip over to the metrics. That doesn’t communicate the powerful elemental part of a building working in harmony with nature,” Coulson says.

An upcoming example of Coulson’s work is the MH House, a 2400 square-foot, four-unit home and office space in Duluth’s Central Hillside. The building is designed not just for energy sustainability, but also for longevity through versatility.

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