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Sustainable Design


Sustainable design aims to avoid depletion of critical resources like energy, water, and raw materials; prevent environmental degradation caused by facilities and infrastructure throughout their life cycle; and create livable, comfortable, safe, and productive structures to ensure the viability of future generations.

Aside from introducing sustainable design in new construction, proponents of sustainable design are pushing towards retrofitting existing buildings rather than building anew. Retrofitting an existing building can be more cost-effective than building a new facility by reducing operational costs, diminishing environmental impacts, and increasing building resiliency. The embodied energy of the existing building are squandered when the building is allowed to decay.

The following six fundamental principles of sustainable design are applicable to both new construction and existing buildings.

1. Optimize Site Design

Creating sustainable buildings begins with careful site selection, taking into consideration the reuse or rehabilitation of existing buildings. The location, orientation, and landscaping of a building affect local ecosystems, transportation methods, and energy use. It is vital to include smart growth principles into the project development process, whether the project is a single family home, multifamily condominium or university campus. Siting for physical security is a critical issue in optimizing site design, including locations of access roads, parking, vehicle barriers, and perimeter lighting. The site of a sustainable building should treat storm water runoff and strive to support native flora and fauna of the region.