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Korte: Green by Design

Korte Architecture is dedicated to designing sustainable structures in the community for years to come.


Green building techniques have quickly raised the bar in the construction industry today. Crystal Lake’s Korte Architecture considers itself a local leader in this movement.

For more than a decade, husband-and-wife architect team Brian and Andrea Korte have used sustainable design for commercial, municipal any residential projects of all sizes.

“We try to incorporate at least one green component into every project,” Andrea said. “Some projects, because of the client’s willingness, utilize many sustainable technologies and techniques – we call these ‘dark green.’ We consider those with only a few sustainable aspects ‘light green.’”

Designing green, though growing in acceptance, still poses challenges, she said. “Explaining to clients how spending a little more up front can reap large savings in the future remains a challenge,” Brian said. “We have met with some resistance when trying to introduce new technologies or methods into traditional construction, fighting against the way things have been done for years.”

On the other hand, green building is a step in the right direction from an environmental standpoint and the future of the industry. “At the most basic level sustainable design is the only way to be truly responsible in our profession,” Andrea said.

Great Green Projects

Korte is proud to have worked on a number of local green projects, including the Mazzone residence in Lakewood. “Green components included radiant heating, reuse of salvaged brick, advanced framing, spray foam insulation throughout, daylighting, construction waste recycling, high-performance windows and a high energy efficiency heating/cooling system,” Andrea said.

The Davis residence in Crystal Lake is another highlight in Korte’s portfolio. “It includes contemporary design, clean lines and no clutter,” Brian explains. “The public spaces are designed to be open and visually connected with abundant natural light and views. Radiant heat in floor of lower level is more energy efficient and comfortable.

The house was designed with two “fronts” – one facing the street and one facing the lake. The centrally located Rumford-style fireplace is more energy efficient than traditional fireplaces and reflects more heat to the room while conveying less heated air up the chimney.

“The wood mantels reclaimed from diseased oak trees on the property,” he added.

On the commercial side, Korte completed the Becmar Sprinkler Systems Headquarters in Woodstock and is currently working on the Randall Road Animal Hospital in Crystal Lake. “The roof of the hospital is covered with a synthetic slate providing the authentic look and durability of slate,” Brian said. “The lifespan on this type of roof is 50 years.”

“We are also currently collaborating again with Habitat for Humanity, Northern Fox Valley on the design of an affordable and efficient single-family home,” Brian said.

A Decade in Crystal Lake

Korte celebrated 10 years of business in 2010, a milestone by any standard. “We credit a number of factors for our longevity,” Brian said, “including offering high-quality architectural services at an affordable rate; our ability to respond to changes in the market; diverse client base; and our personal attention to each project.”

“In addition, we’re the only husband/wife team in McHenry County – we bring two perspectives to each project,” Andrea added. What’s more, Korte is the only firm in the county where all principals are LEED Accredited Professionals.

The Kortes enjoy working in McHenry County and are happy to be doing business here. “There are many resources for people trying to start a business and a supportive community for small businesses,” Andrea said. “And working in an area that is growing allows us to do a variety of projects that can make a difference in the community. It’s also been rewarding to educate the community on new technologies and sustainable design.”

Andrea, an Arlington Heights native and Brian, who is from a suburb of Toronto, have found a happy home in Crystal Lake. “We found an affordable century home that had great potential within walking distance to downtown and we’ve been renovating ever since,” Brian said.

This green firm looks very much forward to staying in the game of green design as the industry and clients continue to embrace green building. “Reports indicate that the construction industry uses 50 percent of the world’s resources and is responsible for 40 percent of energy consumption,” Andrea said. “Changes in the industry could potentially have a huge impact on the planet  and we want to be a driving force of that change.”

To that end, the Kortes plan on designing homes and businesses that conserve resources, reduce energy consumption and improve quality of life. “We want to be a resource for green design in the community with a focus on quality versus quantity,” Brian said.

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