June 27, 2015

Importance of Sustainable Building Design

Sustainable building design plays a key role in helping business owners reduce resources while maintaining a higher quality indoor environment for their employees or tenants. Many of the factors that lead to unnecessary energy and water usage (resulting in waste) can affect our health and comfort. Buildings are one of the easiest way to address climate change and the least costly way to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Sustainable Buildings Defined

The most effective sustainable designs should have minimum harmful impacts on the surrounding environments, promote health and productivity, bonus when these buildings are beautiful and inspirational.)

According to the EPA, green building is the practice of creating structures and using processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life-cycle from siting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and deconstruction. This practice expands and complements the classical building design concerns of economy, utility, durability, and comfort. Green building is also known as a sustainable or high performance building.

Green Buildings Improve Business

There are many reasons why going green and using sustainable architecture is important, and it can also improve your business. By “greening” the design of commercial and industrial buildings, engineers can help in the following ways:

  1. Design and build energy efficient buildings to help lower total operational costs and energy usage.
  2. Reduce waste by optimizing the designs to utilize materials efficiently and minimize construction materials.
  3. Decrease carbon footprints by using low impact materials that are environmentally friendly and resource-efficient as well as using water-efficient landscapes.
  4. Increase productivity and contributes to a healthier environment.
  5. Boost the community by encouraging other companies to adopt similar practices.

Green Buildings by the Numbers

According to the US Green Building Council, buildings are one of the heaviest consumers of natural resources and account for a significant portion of the greenhouse gas emissions that affect climate change. In the U.S., buildings account for:

  • 38% of all CO2 emissions
  • 73% of electricity consumption

Green buildings, on the other hand, consume much less energy. Compared to the average commercial building, the LEED Gold buildings in the General Services Administration’s portfolio generally:

  • Consume 25% less energy
  • Consume 11% less water
  • Have 19% lower maintenance costs
  • 27% higher occupant satisfaction
  • 34% lower greenhouse gas emissions

Achieving LEED certification is a top sustainable goal for both private and public organizations, with LEED Gold certification being set as the goal for a majority of the organizations.