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Home Build Your Business Case Set Your Budget and Goals Adopt a Whole-Building Approach Apply Sustainable Building Strategies Capitalize on Your Achievement
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NRDC, Santa Monica, CA. Architect: Moule & Polyzoides.


The best green strategies achieve multiple objectives with a single solution. The earlier you decide to build green, the more opportunities you'll have to maximize the synergies in your building's design and performance. In this section, you'll find brief descriptions of a wide range of strategies, grouped according to the five areas of sustainability: site, water, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality. If you're new to green building and feel hesitant about addressing multiple green principles in your first effort, you may want to start with one area, such as water efficiency, and expand as you gain experience.

As you check out possible strategies in each area, you can browse our list of links to manufacturers and suppliers of green building products and technologies around the country.

Herman Miller Marketplace  (Zeeland, MI)
Energy-efficiency strategies in this 95,000-square-foot speculative office building include abundant daylighting, T8 fluorescent lamps and an HVAC system that realizes a 40 percent reduction in energy use relative to the baseline model ASHRAE 90.1. The project achieved LEED Gold certification at a total project cost of just $89 per square foot (land excluded) -- considerably less than the $100 to $110 per square foot cost for comparable non-green offices in the area. And operational savings for the building have been calculated at $1,001,000 over a seven-year lease.
Full Case Study »
ACCORD21 Office Building  (Beijing, China)
In spite of occupancy at nearly double its intended capacity, this 139,000-square-foot office building in downtown Beijing has achieved more than 70 percent energy savings and more than 60 percent water savings from the integration of sustainable features, including a high-performance shell and windows, a roof garden stormwater system and a high-efficiency, combined chiller/thermal storage system.

Owned by China's Ministry of Science and Technology, the ACCORD21 building achieved LEED Gold certification in July 2005, making it the first LEED-certified project in China and one of the greenest building projects in the world.

The building was designed to accommodate 250 staff from a division of the ministry but has been occupied by 475 ministry headquarters workers since February 2004. In spite of the nearly doubled occupancy, the project has demonstrated exemplary energy efficiency. The building features a high-performance shell, with special attention paid to windows and daylighting, ultra-low-energy lighting and a high-efficiency, combined chiller/thermal storage system. Measured energy use is 6.8 kWh per square foot, compared with almost 28 kWh per square foot for other recent conventional Chinese government buildings.

The building reduces total water consumption by more than 60 percent, using less than 40 percent of the water budget allocated by the Beijing municipality. To achieve this savings, the design team combined a roof garden with a dual-cistern stormwater retention and pervious pavement system. Water-efficiency strategies retain 65 percent of the stormwater that falls on the site.

The project is efficiently located in downtown Beijing near several transit lines and offers bike parking and shower access to 80 percent of the occupants. The building's second floor is designated as a green building and community design and technology demonstration training center. The building was an international effort between the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology and the U.S. Department of Energy; the project was managed by NRDC.
Choose a Sustainable Site
Maximize Water Efficiency
Save Energy
Make Smart Use of Materials
and Resources
Safeguard Indoor Environmental
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With good integration, you can reduce your project's energy and water costs by more than 30 percent.
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Each of these cutting-edge technologies offers a range of benefits.
Green (Planted) Roofs

Help insulate against cold and hot outdoor temperatures

Reduce the urban "heat island" effect by absorbing energy

Improve occupant productivity and satisfaction

Keep stormwater onsite for irrigation or other purposes

Reduce the rate and amount of stormwater flowing into overtaxed municipal drainage systems, which can overflow and pollute waterways

Help preserve the roof's waterproofing
Under-Floor Air Systems

Deliver clean, room-temperature air at the floor level and allow it to rise and stratify naturally, reducing the need for fans to push the air down from above.

Leave warmer air at the top of the room where the air conditioning system can pull it out for cooling, filtration and recirculation.

Create less velocity and therefore less whistling and other noise.

Enable businesses to reconfigure floor plans inexpensively and quickly. "Play by play" modules for air conditioning vents, data and power receptacles allow easy reconfiguration of furniture modules.