Sustainable Building Design from Start to Finish (Week 1)


Green building, or sustainable design, is the practice of increasing the efficiency with which buildings and their sites use energy, water, and materials, and of reducing impacts on human health and the environment for the entire lifecycle of a building. Green-building concepts extend beyond the walls of buildings and include site planning, community and land-use planning issues as well. The growth and development of our communities has a large impact on our natural environment. The EPA has revealed that buildings account for approximately 40 percent of the total U.S. energy consumption and residential buildings account for approximately 54 percent of that total, while commercial buildings accounted for the other 46 percent. At home or at work, without a doubt buildings are a big part of our lives. The manufacturing, design, construction and operation of the buildings in which we live and work are responsible for the consumption of many of our natural resources. The planning of a project is a key component in figuring out how to go about getting a sustainable building design or a green building. Many teams use a multi-disciplinary, integrated design approach, and for the next few weeks we will outline the steps involved in producing an effective Sustainable Building Design from Start to Finish.

 

The conventional way of bringing a project to fruition which includes, design, bid, building, and operations processes often fails to recognize that buildings are part of larger, complex system. As a result, solving one problem may negatively affect other systems elsewhere in the system. In contrast, an integrative process is a highly collaborative method used for the design, construction and operations of sustainable built environments. This approach requires the whole project team to think of the entire building and all of its systems together, emphasizing connections and improving communication among professionals and stakeholders throughout the life of a project. It breaks down similar to the strategy outlined in the Integrative Process (IP)© – ANSI Consensus National Standard Guide© – Design and Construction of Sustainable Buildings and Communities to inefficient solutions. Although the term integrative design is most often applied to the planning stage of a  new construction or renovations project, it is often used interchangeably by the public with the integrative process, where an integrative process is applicable to any phase in the life cycle of a building. What it boils down to, is getting everyone who will be involved in the project, from the design phase to construction to the actual day-to-day operations, together right from the start to collaborate and trust.

 

Stage 1: The Discovery Phase

During the discovery phase a project must go through a business justification. This takes place once a business identifies that they have a need, which might result in a building project. This is where the client will define the need. The client will then explore high level options for meeting the requirements set out in the statement of need. This may include an assessment of comparable projects. Then they would prepare a preliminary business case, which is a first attempt to justify the investment required by the potential project and should include a management structure, a draft legal agreements and funding options. The client will need to develop a statement of needs, that provides sufficient information about the project to allow for the appointment of a consultant team who will carry out feasibility studies and options appraisals, prepare a project brief and develop the strategic brief.  The brief should also outline preliminary requirements of the project including any potential goals or visions or basic metrics of performance.

The initial strategic brief may include the identification of potential sites for the development. It should be noted that for particularly large projects, an environmental impact assessment may be required by the local planning authority and that this may include an assessment of alternative sites for the development. It is important to consider this when assessing potential sites. Identifying possible sites, and considering their impacts (such as the possibility of moving staff) can be a complicated process and may require the appointment of independent client advisers (such as surveyors and or civil engineers).

The client undertakes risk assessment and value management exercises, sets an initial budget for the project and considers funding options for the project. They may then revise the preliminary business case and strategic brief.

The next step is to establish an internal team. They will need to identify who will lead the project for the organization and have the organization’s best interests in mind. This can take the shape of a project director, one person, or a project board, a team of champions who would take responsibility for the quality of the project from a business standpoint. The team may include a user panel or project stakeholders.

Next week we will further investigate what it takes to build a sustainable or green building from start to finish.

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