This piece was first published on July 26 on

Veteran structural engineer Don Davies has a dream. He wants to grow farm-to-building materials. Davies already owns the family farm in his native Idaho, but isn’t quite ready to plant the seeds to realize his dream. One reason is that the Seattleite is busy cultivating a broader movement: slashing embodied carbon in the built environment. And he is doing that by forgoing engineering and donning an owner’s hat.

Davies’ debut sustainable development is a 5,126-sq-ft adaptive-reuse and seismic-retrofit project in the Green Lake section of Seattle—about a half mile from his home. In early 2021, when Davies and his wife, environmental policy activist Joan Crooks, bought the two-story unreinforced masonry building they recently named Hubbard’s Corner, they had a vision. The project would not only breathe another 100 years of life into the 1912 brick-bearing-wall building, it would serve as a living laboratory to test and showcase cutting-edge low-embodied-carbon systems and materials, among them cement, concrete, steel, timber and insulation.

“I saw an opportunity to put into practice many things we talked about but never, as a structural engineer, had the opportunity to control,” says the 58-year-old Davies, who left Magnusson Klemencic Associates in February after 33 years, including his last eight as president.

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