Sustainable Design Strategies

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Sustainable Design Strategies


Buildings are responsible for more than half the world's energy use, thus thinking sustainably requires attention to how buildings can be designed, constructed, and operated to use less energy and fewer material resources. The processes of design, construction, and building operations are inextricably linked: Design decisions determine in large part the methods, materials, and sequencing of construction; and the type of building systems selected in design and installed during construction determines the costs (dollar costs as well as energy costs) of operating systems both in the short-term (operational) and in the long-term (replacement). Traditionally, these three processes have been sequential and separate: performed by different teams of people at different times and places. More recently, the concept of performance engineering has been used in order to integrate the expertise of maintenance workers and contractors from the earliest points of building design in order to produce buildings that will be appropriately designed for prevailing construction practices in particular locales, and effectively and properly maintained by owners or maintenance staff. (Kibert : 136)

Two central objectives in green design are to reduce energy use, especially the use of fossil fuels, and to minimize the wasteful use of resources. The aim of designing green buildings is to produce zero net energy; this is achieved through conservation measures and by using the building or site to produce energy with renewable sources, such as geothermal, solar, or wind power. Any surplus may be sold back to the local energy grid. The latter goal, minimizing use of resources, may be achieved by using smaller amounts of materials, using recycled or salvaged materials, using materials that are produced in a sustainable way or without harmful chemicals, or by some combination of these. (Saranka : 236)

National Building Museum

The National Building Museum in Washington, DC, mounts a major exhibition promoting the idea that "green" doesn't preclude "growth." Running from January to June 2003, it showcases the ecologically responsive efforts of major architectural firms based mostly in the United States and Britain. This well-illustrated exhibition catalog contains brief profiles of 50 recent buildings and projects and five short essays by notable theorists and practitioners. The theme throughout is that eco-friendly office towers, industrial parks, and shopping centers will, eventually, be good for the bottom line. Token appeals are made for more livable environments and planetary stewardship, but the primary incentive is the prospect of handsome payoffs in reduced energy consumption and improved employee productivity. For those who gag at the thought of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and other corporate favorites being counted as "green," James Wines's Green Architecture may prove a more palatable survey of this important international trend.

The National Building Museum in 2015 will be a vibrant place, regularly drawing numerous, diverse visitors who will enjoy a compelling experience that makes the built environment relevant and meaningful. The Museum will be nationally recognized as a thought leader and critical resource by virtue of its impeccable scholarship, acclaimed exhibitions, engaging public programs, transformational youth programming, dynamic ...
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