Member Spotlight: Nicholson Kovalchick Architects

For over a decade, Nicholson Kovalchick (NK) Architects has promoted livable, sustainable cities in Seattle, WA, and, more recently, here in Pittsburgh.

By using Passive House design strategies and specializing in urban housing, NK Architects works to combine energy-efficient designs with historic renovation, development, project rescue, and landmark designation. Through its focus on commercial and residential development, the firm designs buildings that are solutions to problems like poor indoor air quality, inefficient energy use, and lack of durability.


NK Architects has been a GBA member since 2013, and we are glad to have them! In fact, Brandon Nicholson, a founding principal at NK Architects, partnered with GBA as the president of Passive House Western PA to host a Passive House Consultant training session. This training will give local professionals more tools for creating healthy and high-performing spaces in our region.

GBA is grateful for the leadership and expertise our members bring to the green building industry. We are excited to share some insights from NK Architects about Passive House, GBA membership, and sustainable building practices!

What do you value about being a GBA member?

We value being a GBA member because it’s the best way for us to connect with our kindred spirits: the men and women who see the built environment as an opportunity to create a sustainable future. GBA provides a forum for learning, for sharing, and for debate, all critically important for the evolution and progress of the green building movement.

Your company started in Seattle and you’ve worked around the world on green building strategies like Passive House. In what ways can the Pittsburgh region benefit from these building practices?

We were drawn to Passive House because it’s a science-proven technology to create energy-saving buildings that are healthier for people and the planet. For Pittsburgh, the air quality benefits of Passive House are a big deal. Local research shows that conventional buildings actually act as a trap for outdoor air pollution, capturing and concentrating particulates that then linger inside buildings for long periods. Generally speaking, in conventional buildings interior air is polluted air. But in Passive House buildings, interior air is fresh and filtered air. This is because in Passive House design we carefully manage air movement by combining an air barrier with mechanical heat recovery ventilation (HRV). Because the HRV is equipped with robust filters and runs 24/7, pollutants from inside and outside are constantly being filtered out of interior air. Harmful particulates are no longer absorbed by occupants’ lungs.

If you had one sustainability or green building recommendation for others, what would it be?

Building is climate action. Look for the most proven, cost-effective way to reduce the energy consumption of our buildings.

membership-badge-corporateIf you want to connect with organizations like NK Architects who are working toward a more sustainable future, you can become a GBA member.

Our members are the heart and pulse of our organization. We regularly spotlight some of GBA’s corporate and individual members. You’ll love getting to know them and learning how they’re making real change to create healthy, high performing places in our region!

Do you want to suggest an organization or person for the Member Spotlight? Send us an email at

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