11 Green Building Design Strategies and Measures. 6 Advance Water Efficiency and Conservation Measures

In practical terms, green building is a whole-systems approach to building design and construction that employs features such as

  • Using energy-efficient appliances and water-saving devices, fixtures, and technologies
  • Building quality, durable structures with good insulation and ventilation
  • Taking advantage of the sun and the site to increase a building's capacity for natural heating, cooling, and daylighting
  • Recycling and minimizing construction and demolition waste
  • Using healthy products and building practices
  • Incorporating durable, recycled, salvaged, and sustainably harvested materials
  • Landscaping with native, drought-resistant plants and water-efficient practices
  • Designing for livable neighborhoods

Here are 11 green design strategies and measures that you can adopt:

  1. Encourage the use of renewable energy and materials that are sustainably harvested.
  2. Ensure maximum overall energy efficiency.
  3. Ensure that water use is efficient, and minimize wastewater and runoff.
  4. Conserve nonrenewable energy and scarce materials.
  5. Optimize site selection to conserve green space and minimize transportation impacts.
  6. Minimize human exposure to hazardous materials.
  7. Minimize the ecological impact of energy and materials used.
  8. Encourage use of mass transit, occupant bicycle use, and other alternatives to fossil-fueled vehicles.
  9. Conserve and restore local air, water, soils, flora, and fauna.
  10. Minimize adverse impacts of materials by employing green products.
  11. Orient buildings to take maximum advantage of sunlight and microclimate.

9 Strategies to achieve both the IgCC and CalGreen goals.

  1. Use energy-efficient heat/cooling systems in conjunction with a thermally efficient building shell. Other prudent energy-saving opportunities may exist with heat recovery options and thermal energy storage. High R-value wall and ceiling insulation to be installed; minimal glass to be employed on east and west exposures and light colors for roofing and wall finishes.
  2. Encourage the incorporation of renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, or other alternative energy into the HVAC system to reduce operational costs and minimize the use of fossil fuels.
  3. Minimize as much as possible electric loads created by lighting, appliances, and other systems.
  4. Employ passive design strategies, including building shape and orientation, passive solar design, and the use of natural lighting, to dramatically impact building energy performance.
  5. Employ modern energy management controls, as improperly programmed controls and outdated technology can mislead a building owner that a building is performing more efficiently than it actually is. Replacing, upgrading, or reprogramming the temperature controls and energy management system will ensure equipment operates at optimum efficiency.
  6. Develop strategies to provide natural lighting and views where this will improve well-being and productivity. A green building is typically designed to take advantage of the sun's seasonal position to heat its interior in winter and frequently incorporates design features such as light shelves, overhanging eaves, or landscaping to mitigate the sun's heat in summer. Room orientation should generally be designed to improve natural ventilation.
  7. Install high-efficiency lighting systems with advanced lighting control systems and incorporating motion sensors linked to dimmable lighting controls. Inclusion of task lighting can reduce general overhead light levels.
  8. Use BIM computer modeling when possible to optimize design of electrical and mechanical systems and the building shell.
  9. Employ retro-commissioning. Most existing buildings have never been commissioned during construction, and as they age they require regular maintenance. In this respect, retro-commissioning can be extremely useful by resolving problems that occur during the Design or Construction Phases, or by addressing problems that have developed throughout the building's life and thus make a substantial difference in energy usage and savings.

There are numerous efficiency measures that can be implemented to advance water efficiency and conservation, including

  • Employ ultra-low-flush toilets, low-flow showerheads, and other water-conserving fixtures to minimize wastewater.
  • Incorporate dual plumbing systems that use recycled water for toilet flushing or a graywater system that recovers rainwater or other nonpotable water for site irrigation.
  • Install recirculating systems to be used for centralized hot water distribution, and point-of-use water-heating systems for more distant locations.
  • Use a water budget approach that schedules irrigation systems.
  • Incorporate self-closing nozzles on hoses and state-of-the-art irrigation controllers.
  • Employ micro-irrigation techniques to supply water in nonturf areas; buildings should be metered separately from landscape.

The following aspects should be considered when choosing building materials for a project:

  • Choose sustainable construction materials and products whenever possible. Their sustainability can be measured by several characteristics such as recycled content, reusability, minimum off-gassing of harmful chemicals, zero or low toxicity, durability, sustainably harvested materials, high recyclability, and local production. Use of such products promotes resource conservation and efficiency, minimizes the adverse impact on the environment, and helps to harmonize the building with its surroundings.
  • Employ dimensional planning and other material efficiency strategies to reduce the amount of building materials needed and cut construction costs. For example, the design of rooms to 4-foot multiples minimizes waste by conforming to standard-sized wallboard and plywood sheets.
  • If possible, reuse and recycle construction and demolition materials. Using recycled-content products cuts costs and assists in the development of markets for recycled materials that are being diverted from landfills. One example is the use of inert demolition materials as a base course for a parking lot.
  • Allocate adequate space to facilitate recycling collection and to incorporate a solid waste management program that reduces waste generation.
  • Require waste management plans for managing materials through deconstruction, demolition, and construction.

9 Principals of Green Building Design.

11 Green Design Strategies and Measures

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Comment by Richard Wilson on August 29, 2017 at 5:09pm

Everyone in my cul-de-sac recently installed ultra-low-flush toilets, low-flow high pressure shower heads, and other water-conserving fixtures to help minimize our wastewater. I encourage everyone to bring this issue up at their next neighborhood meeting.  Let's all do our part to conserve water.

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