Kelly Karmel

Kelly A. Karmel, AIA, LEED AP BD+C    

Founder and Principal Sustainability Consultant 
Design Balance LLC


Kelly A. Karmel, AIA, LEED AP BD+C is the Founder and Principal Sustainable Design Specialist for Design Balance LLC.  She started the firm in 1996 after 16 years in the design field to follow her twin passions for preserving and restoring the natural environment and helping create design-forward high performance buildings.

She was an early adopter of the LEED Green Building Rating System and also the Living Building Challenge and WELL Building standards.  Her firm was awarded LEED Proven Provider status in 2014 in recognition of consistent excellence in facilitation and documentation, and knowledge of sustainable design and LEED.  Kelly has led over 90 LEED projects in five rating programs to all levels of certification, and she is currently involved with several cutting-edge Living Building Challenge projects.

Kelly holds degrees in Civil/Structural Engineering and Architecture, and uses this interdisciplinary training to work effectively with design and construction teams on all types of delivery methods. She specializes in Commercial, Education, Community & Government, Recreation and Multi-Family building types throughout the United States.  She has been a LEED Accredited Professional since 2001, and holds certifications in Forest, Land and Habitat Stewardship and participated as a Living Building Challenge Ambassador for 5 years.

A special talent for facilitation and explaining complex subjects in engaging ways led to Kelly providing a wide range of coaching and training services to help design firms craft and implement their sustainable design strategies.   She provides one-on-one coaching, development of sustainable design programs, continuous firm-improvement and success measurement, inspiration and encouragement to her clients.

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Professional Focus

  • Certification Consulting
  • Sustainable Design Program and Firm Development
  • Strategic Sustainability Plans
  • Coaching and Training
  • Leading Edge Research

Client Industries

  • Universities and school districts
  • Design firms
  • Commercial and Non-Profit Businesses
  • Community and Governmental Agencies
  • Real Estate Investment Trusts


  • B.S. Civil Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, California, 1979.
  • M. Arch, University of Colorado, Denver, Colorado, 1985.

Professional Licenses and Accreditation

  • Licensed Architect, Colorado 1990 – present (License # 202717).
  • Licensed Civil Engineer, California 1981 -1991, Colorado 1984 - 1999.
  • LEED Accredited Professional with Specialty, June 2001 - Present.

Professional Experience

  • Founder and Principal Consultant, Design Balance, January 1996 - present.
  • Director, Design Technology for the Built Environment, University of Denver, January 1996 - April 1997.
  • Principal and Project Architect, Klipp Colussy Jenks DuBois, Architects, P.C., Denver, Colorado, October 1985 -
    October 1995.
  • Project Engineer, Forell Elsesser Engineers, Inc., San Francisco, California, July 1979 - June 1982.

Professional Involvement and Recognition

  • LEED Accredited Design Professional, June 2001 – present
  • U.S. Green Buildings Council Member, 2000 – present
  • Board Member, Montana Chapter of the USGBC, 2009 – 2014
  • Sustainable Business Council Member, 2010 - 2014
  • Living Building Challenge Ambassador, 2010 - 2015
  • Western Regional Council, 2010 - 2013
  • American Institute of Architects Member, 1990 - present
  • Licensed Architect, 1990- present
  • Certified Habitat Steward, 1999 - present
  • Certified Forest and Land Steward, 1998 - present
  • Research Excellence Award, Sustainable Design Resource Guide, AIA Denver, 1998
  • Chair and Editor-in-Chief, Sustainable Design Resource Guide, published periodically, regional environmentally
    preferable building materials and issues, 1994 - 1998, Co-Chair 1992 - 1994
  • Technical Advisory Committee for Commercial Building Energy Standard, Governor's Office of Energy Conservation,
    State of Colorado, 1996 - 1997
  • Secretary, Board of Directors, AIA Colorado Chapter, 1997
  • Chair, AIA Denver Chapter, Committee on the Environment, 1993- 1998
  • AIA Leadership Award, 1997

Phone: 406-721-7077