Buildings all over the nation use a variety of resources (energy, water, materials, etc), they generate waste (construction, occupant, etc) and release atmospheric emissions. And building owners are often faced with the challenge to meet the ever changing demands for new, upgraded facilities that are accessible, secure and healthy; while minimizing environmental impact. Thus, choosing sustainable building design can help to reduce operation costs and carbon footprints as well as increase building resiliency.
Energy Efficient Buildings
According to the EPA, in the United States, buildings account for:
- 39% total energy use
- 68% total electricity use
- 12% total water use
- 38% total CO2 emissions
- 60% total non-industrial waste generated (from construction and demolition)
Energy and resource efficient, eco- friendly designs are beneficial to the community and environment, socially responsible and thus well received, and often the most economical and best operational choice for businesses. As a top Energy Engineering Company KMB seeks to balance the needs of these areas by providing results oriented designs and solutions.
Definition of a Green Building
A green building can be loosely defined as one that has minimal impact on the environment. Also known as green construction, a sustainable building refers to both a structure and the using of processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life-cycle: from siting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and demolition.
Ideally, the green building preserves and restores the surrounding habitat that is vital for sustaining life and then becomes a net producer and exporter of resources, materials, energy and water (rather than being a net consumer). Green building construction and operation assures the healthiest and most efficient (meaning least disruptive) use of land, water, energy and resources.
Six Fundamental Principles of Sustainable Building Design
While the definition of sustainable building design is ever changing, the National Institute of Building Sciences defines six fundamental principles.
1. Optimize Site Potential
Whether designing a new building or retrofitting an existing building, site design must integrate with sustainable design to achieve a successful project and begins with the proper site selection, including the existing building’s rehabilitation. The location, orientation, and landscaping of a building all affect local ecosystems, transportation methods, and energy use.
2. Optimize Energy Use
Improving the energy performance of existing buildings is important to increasing our energy independence. Operating net zero energy buildings is one way to significantly reduce our dependence on fossil fuel-derived energy.
3. Protect and Conserve Water
A sustainable building should use water efficiently, and reuse or recycle water for on-site use, when feasible.
4. Optimize Building Space and Material Use
As the world population continues to grow; the use of natural resources (and the demands for them) continues to increase. A sustainable building is designed and operated to use and reuse materials in the most productive and sustainable way across its entire life cycle.
5. Enhance Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ)
The indoor environmental quality (IEQ) of a building has a significant impact on occupant health, comfort, and productivity. Among other attributes, a sustainable building maximizes daylighting, has appropriate ventilation and moisture control, optimizes acoustic performance, and avoids the use of materials with high-VOC emissions.
6. Optimize Operational and Maintenance Practices
Designers can specify materials and systems that simplify and reduce maintenance requirements; require less water, energy, and toxic chemicals and cleaners to maintain; and are cost-effective and reduce life-cycle costs.
Energy Engineering Company Makes an Impact
Ultimately, energy efficiency can be enhanced through the integration of sustainable architecture and engineering and can have direct impacts on our environment, society and economy. With experience in multiple LEED projects and energy intensive markets, our experts at KMB look to propose and implement environmentally sound practices on all projects based upon historical evidence of practical, economical results. Contact us to get started today!