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The Five Elements of Green Design

Successful sustainable construction begins with a design that addresses each of the following five central elements of green building design.

  • Sustainable Site Design
  • Water Conservation and Quality
  • Energy and Environment
  • Indoor Environmental Quality
  • Conservation of Materials and Resources

To assure the integrity of the design and the future sustainable exit, integration of green technology within each of those core design elements is critical. For example, the interrelationship between the site orientation, the water conservation program, the use of natural energy sources, the quality of natural sunlight inside the building all affect the building's need for materials and energy sources. In fact, the ideal design brings all the elements together over and over again.

Integrating the design elements requires recognition of several principles of sustainability and the application of these principles to the site analysis:

  • Reduce urban sprawl and destruction of land
  • Promote higher density urban development
  • Pursue brownfield development to save exiting green space
  • Minimize site disturbance and restore natural habitat

Below are hints for consideration with each element.

Sustainable Site Design

  • Only select a new site when necessary
  • When a new site is necessary, do not choose a site that is critical to the local eco-system
  • Orient the building to on the site to utilize natural resources like solar energy
  • Select a site that allows access to mass transit
  • Minimize the building's footprint by using existing surfaces, lightening roof color and using natural shading

Water Conservation and Quality

  • Realize that orientation of the proposed building that allows for natural drainage is often the least expensive way to improve the location
  • Be certain that the site assessment captures the natural hydrological attributes
  • Allow for the use of low-impact storm water retention
  • Set a water budget and implement features that help achieve the budget
  • Improve water conservation and quality by utilizing indigenous trees, plants and turf that do not require irrigation, fertilizers or pesticides

Energy and Environment

  • Maximize passive solar orientation
  • Reduce the need for artificial lighting by planning to use natural sunlight whenever possible
  • Use exterior insulation to maximize the performance of the exterior envelope
  • Use natural ventilation
  • Use Energy Star energy efficient appliances
  • Use new-age lighting products and settings
  • Research all the new energy technologies

Indoor Environmental Quality

  • Protect the building's interior during the construction process
  • Make the building smoke-free
  • Maximize the used of daylight sunlight
  • Make sure that all interior finishes are environmentally friendly and safe
  • Design a healthy heating, cooling and ventilating system

Materials and Resources

  • Use engineer designed high stress materials which strength reduces the quantity of used materials
  • Use recycled materials whenever possible
  • Use materials that can be recycled when their functional life has elapsed
  • Support the local economy and reduce the transportation of materials by using local providers of local products

The five major elements, from sustainable sites to materials and resources are also considered in the US Green Building Council's LEED building certification. Whether considering that certification or just interested in green building, the above points to consider can make a huge difference in returns, cost and the environment.



Source by Rick L. Walker

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