The concept of sustainable architecture has become a hot button with the rising awareness surrounding climate change. For MEP engineers, implementing sustainable architecture with green building designs helps the environment, while controlling budgets for clients by adhering to eco-friendly policies in all phases of commercial construction projects.
Sustainable Building Design Requirements
Sustainable architecture reduces waste and efficiently utilizes resources. These are important components of any new construction project. According to the U.S. General Services Administration, sustainable buildings must:
- Utilize environmentally preferred products
- Minimize non-renewable energy source consumption
- Optimize the potential of the site
- Enhance indoor environmental quality
- Optimize operational practices
- Save on maintenance costs
- Focus on the conservation of water
Providing sustainability in MEP services is now more important than ever before. MEP engineers play a key role in optimizing resource usage in sustainable building designs. Among other roles, MEP engineers select environmentally-friendly construction materials, provide energy consulting, and enable buildings to harness energy from photovoltaic designs.
Taking Sustainable Architecture a Step Further: Net-Zero Energy Buildings
Net-zero energy buildings are designed to generate enough energy to match, or even exceed its consumption. These sustainable architecture designs efficiently lower the overall energy footprint.
According to HPAC Engineering Magazine, “The global Net Zero Energy movement for commercial buildings quietly appears to have achieved critical mass…In just the last six months, significant milestones have either been achieved or announced that indicate ‘Net Zero’ is here to stay and may soon be mainstream across multiple building classifications, with still more to come.”
The article stated that the annual Energy Efficiency Indicator (EEI) survey report experienced a14% increase in facilities that have the goal to become nearly zero, net zero or positive energy.
ZERO Code Standard for New Building Construction
Recently, Architecture 2030 introduced a new building energy standard, which includes both energy efficiency standards and renewable energy sources to create net-zero buildings. The ZERO Code is a national and international standard for new commercial, institutional, and mid- to high-rise residential buildings. The ZERO Code integrates cost-effective energy efficiency measures with on-site and/or off-site renewable energy, resulting in Zero-Net-Carbon (ZNC) buildings.
According to Architecture 2030, part of the ZERO Code’s strength is that it builds on existing standards to make it easier for architects to measure.
“The ZERO Code uses the current national building energy code standard, ASHRAE 90.1 2016, for building energy efficiency and then adds on-site and/or off-site renewable energy procurement to achieve net-zero carbon. All the compliance tools developed for meeting current code standards are applicable to the ZERO Code.”
Sustainable Architecture and Green Building Design Services
At KMB, our LEED-accredited professionals incorporate elements of sustainable architecture and green building design elements in every project we complete. Our team has the experience, resources and technical skills to innovate sustainable solutions that support any sized project.