If you're a newcomer to green building, prepare to make the shift from the more linear building and design process of traditional construction to an integrated approach.
You can do this by inviting the members of your building and design team to come together early in the design process to set goals and discuss strategies. This approach fosters integration and ensures that decisions made by the architect, for example, do not undercut the ability of the mechanical engineer to deliver a cost-effective heating and cooling solution. Integrated design approaches can help avoid the trap of using technology to overcome bad design decisions. With good integration, you can achieve a range of synergies, including the following:
- High-performance windows, high-efficiency office equipment and lighting, and a green roof can allow for a smaller air conditioning system and reduce the amount of water needed for cooling.
- Light-colored pervious paved or grass parking lots can reduce heat islands and control stormwater runoff.
- Well-placed landscaping, light-colored roofs and proper orientation and building shape can all further reduce cooling loads.
- Cisterns help manage stormwater inexpensively and provide water for irrigation, flushing toilets and other purposes. Reducing stormwater runoff helps keeps harmful pollution out of waterways.
- Water-efficient and waterless fixtures help reduce potable water use, lowering utility bills and decreasing the strain on municipal water supplies.