• Binita Vora

Sustainable Design = Eco-friendly Building

Updated: Dec 10, 2021

Our community and the current administration is all leading the path towards energy efficiency and creating a better future for all things living on this planet. Climate change has been a serious issue and longs for us to think about how we can carefully plan and design the future, be it the manufacturing process, design and build buildings, outdoor spaces like parks and recreation or handling waste. So lets first understand the basics of Sustainability.

What does it mean to build sustainable?
Sustainable design seeks to reduce negative impacts on the environment, and the health and comfort of building occupants, thereby improving building performance.
The basic objectives of sustainability are to reduce consumption of non-renewable resources, minimize waste, and create healthy, productive environments.

The 6 basic principles of sustainable design:

1. Site selection and location:

Sustainable design process starts as early as land acquisition. Assess the site location in terms of designated brownfield sites, relation to urban infill, neighborhood development, and proximity to transportation. The design phase involves building orientation, minimizing building footprint, selecting the right landscape, hardscape and irrigation.

2. Water Efficiency:

As fresh water resources deplete and drought conditions occur every so often in the USA, it’s all about utilizing water efficiently. Assess the indoor and outdoor water demand, fixtures types, flow rates, utilize water savings fixtures, HVAC equipment condensate, landscape & irrigation requirements and evaluate water recycling techniques.

3. Energy Efficiency:

The highest operating costs lie in electrical and HVAC systems. Utilizing renewable energy systems, energy efficient appliances, lighting and mechanical systems that reduce energy loads and are less dependent on fossil fuels help reduce the operating costs to a great extent. Whole building energy simulation model during early stages of design help determine the efficiency and make modifications accordingly.

4. Building materials & resources:

This forms the 3 R’s – reduce, reuse and recycle. There is a two-fold benefit, one forming the bulk of construction materials including site improvements and other forming daily operations. Understand the life cycle cost of a product, the raw materials source, local availability, materials that can be reused or re-purposed and use of green cleaning products.

5. Indoor Environmental Quality:

Indoor air quality contributes to the comfort, well-being and productivity of building occupants. Adapt to utilize natural daylight, proper ventilation, optimized acoustic performance, light and temperature control and using low emitting materials.

6. Commissioning:

It is important to monitor the building’s construction activities and its operation upon occupancy to verify that a building’s energy-related systems and equipment are installed and functioning as intended. This is a highly effective method to improve the performance of building systems and equipment. Buildings that are properly commissioned typically have fewer change orders, tend to be more energy efficient, and have lower operation and maintenance cost.

Stay tuned as we share new article each month in the sustainable series discussing each principle further in detail and how each of these can be applied to your building with cost-savings!

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