Monday, November 1, 2021

The Role of Green Buildings Related to Energy and Water

The Role of Green Buildings  Related to Energy and Water

There is no single solution to the critical supplies of energy and water and the environmental threats created by their overuse. Therefore, it is necessary to pursue a wide variety of options to reduce use of traditional sources of energy and water.

Buildings are one of the most attractive targets for implementing alternative approaches. Investments in reducing energy and water use quickly pay off by lowering utility bills. In most cases, the savings will return the initial costs (i.e., achieve payback) in a few years.

Even though they can provide building owners with significant savings, the design team has traditionally had a hard time selling increased first - cost investments, because capital building budgets and operating budgets are typically managed and accounted for separately. Building owners and the environment can benefit when management takes a holistic approach and views the two budgets as a single pool of money. First cost, life - cycle cost, maintenance costs, as well as the payback period, should all be an initial part of designing, constructing, and operating a building.

There are other advantages to well - designed buildings that save energy and water (Tiller and Creech 1999), for example:

  • Increased comfort
  • Improved durability
  • Less space occupied by ductwork and piping
  • Reduced fading of textiles in front of window areas
  • Better indoor air quality
  • Reduced square footage, yielding fewer resources used, reduced construction waste, and reduced resources associated with building operation

In many cases, more efficient buildings, particularly those that use natural daylighting, provide benefits that far exceed the energy savings (Wilson 1999a), including:

  •  Improved productivity
  •  Reduced absenteeism
  •  Higher employee morale
  •  Improved test scores in daylighted schools
  •  Increased product sales in retail applications

A report on thirty - three green buildings in California estimated their financial costs and benefits. The estimated additional cost for the buildings was about 2 percent of construction costs — around $4 per square foot. The projected savings per square foot included $5.50 in energy savings, $0.50 in water savings, and $8 in reduced cost for operations and maintenance. The analysis estimated an additional savings of $35 per square foot for enhanced productivity and improved health. Overall, the savings far outweighed the additional costs (Kats 2003). 

The net result of a successful design process for a green building is a structure that initially costs little, if any, more than a comparable traditional building and that provides its occupants tangible improvements in their living and working environments. Since the building uses less energy and water, it will have substantially less negative environmental impact and will serve as a model for future buildings. The end product is a building that is easier to market and, therefore, perceived favorably by the client. Smart businesses recognize the added benefits and are more willing to pay extra for their monthly leases (Kats 2003).

The Role of the Interior Design Professional

Interior designers serve in a unique role in the design process. They combine art and science by using knowledge of technology and psychology to support their expertise in aesthetics, space planning, traffic flow, lighting design, and materials and to respond to client preferences. Interior designers who place a high priority on green building design have an opportunity to change every building on which they work. The more members of the design team committed to green building features and willing to collaborate in a team approach to design, the more likely the initial environmentally responsible concepts will continue through to building occupancy.

Unfortunately, many design projects that begin as green buildings lose key features during the multiple phases (e.g., design development, bidding, value engineering, construction, final occupancy, operations, and maintenance) of the design process. This is due to budget cuts; lack of information, knowledge, and understanding, as well as contractors who are reluctant to try something different than the well - trod approach. 

Interior designers should consider the building as a system and use integrated design approaches to optimize performance and economics. The design team must realize that in the design and construction phases, through the use of integrated systems, all of the disciplines are interrelated. In some cases, eliminating just one design feature in an integrated design may sacrifice key elements of a high - performance building, such as thermal comfort, control of moisture, provision of quality indoor air, energy and water savings, or minimal environmental impact.

The design team often looks to the interior designers to make the building as appealing as possible to the client and end users. When the client wants a green building, the interior designers should consider part of their role to be preserving and honoring the green building features. By remaining firm on the initial design, interior designers can often make a difference not only in one building but in the future string of buildings constructed by the client and design team. 

No comments:

Post a Comment