AIRLIT studio is an environmental design consultancy with an approach rooted in technical excellence focused on developing sustainable and innovative solutions for our clients and their buildings.
Through our collective experience working within architecture and MEP firms, we offer a consulting dynamic that is sensible to every discipline on the design team. We prioritize regularly touching base with our clients to stay informed about design updates that may seem, to the untrained eye, tangential to performance, but could be critical to success. And when in-house technical teams are part of the workflow, we collaborate with them, identifying collective strengths, and sharing tools and approaches that may be more efficient when implemented internally.
Our founders’ passion for high performance building design originated in the Building Technology Lab at MIT, where they both obtained their PhDs in the design of naturally ventilated buildings. Prior to founding AIRLIT studio, they led the design process of award-winning projects from in-house and third party consultant perspectives, having collectively worked as sustainability consultants, mechanical engineers and in-house building scientists. They have also served as expert contributors to ASHRAE technical committees, USGBC technical advisory groups, as well as city- and state-level energy code development efforts.
We believe each building’s high performance vision, priorities, and story are unique. Our approach is centered around occupants and how they will experience a building. Our comprehensive outlook on design considers:
- human well-being
- visual and thermal comfort
- overall indoor environmental quality
- operational and embodied carbon emissions
- HVAC system sizing
- budget and maintenance considerations
- aesthetic appeal
Experience: Alejandra began her career as a rocket scientist who veered off course to address the climate crisis by becoming a natural ventilation expert. After earning a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from MIT, she spent several years as a Building Scientist at Payette and later became a Vice President at Thornton Tomasetti, where she built and led their Boston-based sustainability team. Alejandra is the consummate translator, leveraging her technical and architecture experience to provide clients with a clear understanding of how design strategies impact long-term building performance, occupant wellness, and life cycle cost. Alejandra’s expertise includes passive design, occupant and visual thermal comfort, indoor air quality, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), and high performance HVAC systems. Her portfolio spans from energy-intensive to purely passive buildings, and includes several AIA COTE Top Ten recipients. She has served on several of ASHRAE’s technical committees and was a vice-chair of the USGBC Indoor Environmental Quality Technical Advisory Group. Alejandra has lectured at MIT and the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and has mentored several brilliant students who have emerged as inspiring disruptors in the AEC industry.
Pet peeve: Using wind-roses (with wedges) for climate analysis. Alejandra believes they have misguided the design process for decades by making low wind speeds look small and insignificant.
Favorite rule of thumb: You should only need to look up to the building facades to know where north and south are.
Experience: Alonso is an expert in solving clients’ uncommon technical challenges by using first principles in building science to achieve high-performance, occupant-centric solutions in the built environment. After completing his Ph.D. from MIT in natural ventilation, he worked as a mechanical engineer at Arup and as an energy and carbon specialist at Thornton Tomasetti. He leverages this experience in mechanical system design, energy and comfort analysis, and computational fluid dynamics, to guide teams in finding cost-effective, low-carbon solutions that meet our clients’ aspirations. Alonso’s diverse project experience includes university campuses, science labs, museums, performing arts centers, elementary schools as well as residential and office buildings. In addition, he has collaborated with states and cities to develop cutting-edge carbon neutrality policies. Notably, he contributed to the design of New York and Boston’s first all-electric skyscrapers.
Pet peeve: Teams obsessing over decimal points in the inputs of a simulation, when the uncertainty of the outputs is much greater.
Favorite rule of thumb: You don’t need a CFD for that! 90% of the time back of the envelope and basic principles calculations will often give you the answer that a CFD will only confirm.