Green Design and Planning

Green Building and Remodeling Begins with Design and Construction Planning

Bird's-Eye View

The building lot sets the stage for savings

Integrated designBuilding design in which different components of design, such as the building envelope, window placement and glazings, and mechanical systems are considered together. High-performance buildings and renovations can be created cost-effectively using integrated design, since higher costs one place can often be paid for through savings elsewhere, for example by improving the performance of the building envelope, the heating and cooling systems can be downsized, or even eliminated. teams look for opportunities to incorporate energy efficiency based on what nature can give them, but other opportunities typically appear as the job progresses.

Ratings are a scorecard, but they don't make it green

You don't need a green sealIndependent, nonprofit organization that certifies a variety of products as environmentally responsible based on established criteria. Certified products include coffee filters, air chillers, paints and coatings, papers and newsprint, various cleaning products and services, windows and doors, and lodging properties. of approval in order to build or remodel green. In fact, many builders of successful green homes don't bother enrolling the homes in a green rating program. However, most builders who use a rating system appreciate the marketing advantages of a green label. If the green rating program is well designed, it can also help designers and builders build better homes.

Job sites: leaner, cleaner, and greener

Green job sites generate less waste to begin with and incorporate recycling right into the work flow.

The end product—green homes—are healthy, efficient, affordable, and good-looking.

Key Materials

Green Products and Materials

Green products don't make it green. But at some point, you need products and materials to build a house, so you might as well make wise choices.

Specifying products inevitably involves compromises. For example, builders interested in minimizing the use of materials made from petrochemicals may still choose to insulate a basement wall with rigid foam because of its excellent thermal performance and durability when installed below grade.

Similarly, choosing between 2x12 rafters from a local sawmill and I-joist rafters made in a distant factory requires weighing the advantages and disadvantages of local sourcing versus logging practices that make efficient use of small trees.

Design Notes

Integrated Design

Integrated design is a collaborative approach that treats the group of people building a house as a team rather than as independent freelancers.

Anyone with experience in residential construction is familiar with examples of home designs that failed to consider the requirements of certain subcontractors. Classic examples include:

  • mechanical rooms that are too small to accomodate the necessary equipment (or so small that, once installed, the equipment is so crowded that maintenance is almost impossible);
  • designs without any provision for the location of ductwork (for example, structural beams that interrupt joist bays where ducts might logically be located).

Bringing trade contractors into the design process is an excellent example of integrated design. Done well, the integrated design process results in a better house.

Job Sites

A green job site

A truly green job site requires the application of integrated designBuilding design in which different components of design, such as the building envelope, window placement and glazings, and mechanical systems are considered together. High-performance buildings and renovations can be created cost-effectively using integrated design, since higher costs one place can often be paid for through savings elsewhere, for example by improving the performance of the building envelope, the heating and cooling systems can be downsized, or even eliminated. principles at every phase of construction, so that all trades work together to acheive a common goal. That goal should include minimizing job-site waste. Reducing potential waste and recycling as much as possible helps lower costs and reduce the environmental impact of construction.

Resource Savings

Using less wood and other building materials is good for everyone

Resource efficiency includes minimizing the use of materials and minimizing waste during construction. It also requires the design of a house that uses minimal amounts of energy and water.

Perhaps the easiest way to accomplish all of these goals is to build as small a house as possible.


DIVE DEEPER

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

Develop A Green Consensus

It's hard for a design and construction team to work towards a common goal unless the team members agree on a definition of green building.

There's no single definition of green building. It's perfectly acceptable for your design team to have a definition that differs from that of other builders — as long as everyone on your team has the same basic goals in mind.

You can refine your own definition of green building by reading through our Green Building Primer.

GREEN POINTS

LEED for HOMESLeadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED for Homes is the residential green building program from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). While this program is primarily designed for and applicable to new home projects, major gut rehabs can qualify. Up to 3 points for integrated project planning (ID1) and 3 points available for durability management (ID2), which is a critical aspect of integrated planning. MR1 (Materials & Resources) offers up to 4 points for advanced framingHouse-framing techniques in which lumber use is optimized, saving material and improving the energy performance of the building envelope.. MR3 has up to 3 points for construction-waste reduction. Earn an innovation point (ID3) for outstanding diversion during deconstruction (existing building).

NGBSNational Green Building Standard Based on the NAHB Model Green Home Building Guidelines and passed through ANSI. This standard can be applied to both new homes, remodeling projects, and additions. Under Ch. 4 — Site Design & Development: 4 points for knowledgeable team, clear roles, written mission statement (402.1); 3 points for training on-site team (402.2); green development practice checklist — 3 points (402.3); up to 10 points for density of development (403.12). Under Ch. 6 — Resource Efficiency: 7 points for construction waste management planPlan that addresses the collection and disposal of waste generated during construction or renovation, usually including the collection and storage of recyclable materials. (605.1); 7 points for minimum 50% on-site recycling (grinding & site application) of construction and land clearing waste (605.2); 3 points for off-site recycling of 3 materials (additional points for each additional material recycled) (605.3); up to 15 points for home size < 2500 sq. ft. (601.1).

ABOUT GREEN DESIGN

Meet early and often

Every green home, no matter how simple, requires a design process. Owner-builders who manage to design and build a home single-handedly are relatively rare, so most green homes are collaborative efforts. The best results happen when designers, contractors, and subcontractors work together as a team.

Integrated Design involves all the stakeholders
Early in the process, a team meeting should set the tone for the project. Ideally, the team ethic will permeate the job site, which makes cooperation easier. This means that everyone stays on the same page with respect to the goals of the project, including recycling and minimizing waste.

ABOUT GREEN RATING SYSTEMS

Choose a rating system that meets your needs best

Some (but not all) green homes are enrolled in a green rating program. There are a few national rating programs, and many local green programs. In some parts of the country, builders can choose between four or more green rating systems. This multiplicity of parallel programs inevitably causes confusion, but can also offer flexibility in choosing between systems that better suit the goals of team members. Over the next few years, some programs may be sorted out as the marketplace picks favorites.

ABOUT GREEN JOB SITES

What Makes A Green Job Site Different?

Workers at green job sites follow principles that may be missing from traditional job sites:
They look for ways to reduce waste.
They look for ways to re-use waste on site.
They’re committed to recycling.
They’re committed to integrated designBuilding design in which different components of design, such as the building envelope, window placement and glazings, and mechanical systems are considered together. High-performance buildings and renovations can be created cost-effectively using integrated design, since higher costs one place can often be paid for through savings elsewhere, for example by improving the performance of the building envelope, the heating and cooling systems can be downsized, or even eliminated. priciples which help them work as a team to achieve common green goals.

FURTHER RESOURCES

Building Science Corp:
Towards Sustainability
Prioritizing Green—It's the Energy Stupid
Read This Before You Design, Build, or Renovate


Image Credits:

  1. Roe A. Osborn/Fine Homebuilding
  2. Justin Fink/Fine Homebuilding #170
  3. Daniel Morrison
  4. Rob Wotzak
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