With the population growth and a limited amount of natural resources, the need for sustainable design has increased. Sustainability is avoiding the depletion of natural resources while still maintaining balance. The goal of sustainable design is to protect the environment long-term. It aims to use less resources and improve air and water quality.
Sustainable design is popular among building owners because of the benefits it offers. Sustainable design is not just for new construction. It can also be implemented in existing buildings. The local infrastructure is improved with sustainable design, thus extending benefits to the community.
What Is Sustainable Design?
Sustainable design incorporates environmental considerations into every stage of the building construction process. It focuses on the design, construction, operation, and maintenance phases. Construction professionals work together from start to finish to optimize buildings for environmental sustainability.
Utilizing a sustainable design philosophy encourages decisions at each phase of the design process that will reduce negative impacts on the environment and the health of the occupants without compromising the bottom line. It is an integrated approach that encourages compromise. Sustainable design principles include the ability to:
- optimize site potential
- minimize energy consumption
- use environmentally friendly products
- protect and conserve water
- create healthier environments
- optimize operational and maintenance practices
Sustainable Design Matters
We all must do our part in ensuring that resources are being used efficiently in our projects. Sustainable design considers the environmental impacts that are created when we build, and the processes we use to complete the project.
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) has been the standard for sustainable construction practices since its inception in 1994. It promotes a system of sustainable design construction that goes beyond the minimum building codes to ensure that new buildings will not only be functional today, but they will also be sustainable into the future, energy- efficient, and made from responsibly sourced materials.
Some benefits achieved from sustainable design include:
1. Decreased Pollution and Waste
Pollution poses a serious threat to our air, land, and water sources. Communities around the globe are doing their due diligence to reduce the environmental impact of construction. The design and construction of green buildings is a suitable tool to reduce the human negative impact on the environment and to promote the effective use of natural resources.
Land clearing, operation of diesel engines, and demolition are typical construction activities that contribute to air pollution. All construction sites generate high levels of dust typically from concrete, cement, wood, stone, or silica that can carry for large distances.
Solutions to decrease pollution include:
- the preparation of environmental risk assessments for all construction activities
- the use of sustainable materials that cause less pollution
- the use of fine water sprays to control dust
- screening the construction side to stop dust from spreading.
2. Water Conservation
Sustainable design compels us to pay attention to how we use our natural resources. Carefully designed buildings should include infrastructure to reduce the amount of water used. It also can eliminate the need to draw water from rivers and waterways.
3. Energy Efficiency
Energy management is a common feature of sustainable building design. It can include renewing energy sources like wind farms and solar panels or replacing old HVAC systems. Energy-efficient building systems help reduce operating costs. They also optimize the performance of a building throughout its life cycle, which in turn increases asset value.
Benefits of Sustainable Design
Homeowners and tenants may not recognize all of the advantages of sustainable building design, but they provide many benefits. Green buildings are reducing carbon emissions, energy, and waste. They also increase the conservation of water and prioritize using safer materials. Some other pluses include:
- High energy performance: lower energy bills all year round.
- Investment: independent from future rises in fuel costs, continues to save money long after initial cost recovery.
- Value: high owner satisfaction, high resale value.
- Attractive living environment: large windows and views, sunny interiors, open floor plans.
- Low maintenance: durable, reduced operation, and repair.
- Comfort: no operating noise, warmer in winter, cooler in summer
- Environmentally friendly: clean, renewable energy doesn’t contribute to air pollution.
Consider Sustainable Design for Your Next Project
Whether you are building or renovating, think green. Incorporating sustainable elements into your next building project is easier than you think. In the long run, it can help you save money and live a healthier life.