Green Building Design

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An overview of what we call "Green", "Sustainable", "High Performance" or "Bioclimatic" buildings and how we are involved in their design process.

The 3 widely accepted legs of the sustainability stool are People, Planet, and Prosperity.
We believe that correctly balancing decisions over all three areas results in a sustainable solution. This concept is called Triple Bottom Line accounting ; it takes into account environmental and social performance in addition to the economic performance.

Sustainable buildings are energy and resource-efficient, environmentally sound, healthy, comfortable and productive places to live, work, learn, experiment and recreate.

Designing Energy Efficient Buildings

Sustainable and energy efficient concepts aim for the reduction of plant systems and their energy consumption from the operation of a building (heating, air-conditioning, cooling, lighting, etc.).
This ecological and economical senseful aim can be obtained by optimizing the use of the environmental forces (daylight, ambient air, sun, etc.).

As a consequence, the design team is facing the "planning" of very dynamic parameters like daylight, natural ventilation, thermal masses, night ventilation, solar heat gain, etc.
Due to their extremely dynamic behaviour and the interactions among themselves these time-varying parameters need sophisticated design tools. Different simulation environments are necessary for an estimation or design of these "soft" components of a sustainable building climate concept.

Green Building Rating Systems

Typically, such buildings are measured against "code" buildings, in other words, structures that qualify for a building permit, but don't go beyond the minimum requirements. Green buildings have to score some minimum number of points above the "code" threshold to qualify for a "green" or "certified" or "high-performance" rating.

These buildings are measured according to a building environmental assessment tool such as:

Each of these rating systems are developed to promote environmentally responsible design and construction as well as transform the built environment and marketplace as we traditionally understand it.

Integrated Design Process

Building evaluation systems encourage an "integrated design process", in which the building engineers are brought into the design process with the architectural team at an early stage, often during programming and conceptual design.
Integrated design explores, for example, building orientation, massing and materials choices as critical issues in energy use and indoor air quality, and attempts to influence these decisions before the basic architectural design is fully developed.

Financial Benefits of Green Buildings

This is a non-exhaustive list of economics advantages that sustainable buildings offer:

Nothing is as dangerous in architecture as dealing with separated problems. If we split life into separated problems, we split the possibilities to make good building art.

- Alvar Alto

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