Recently I spoke at the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) 40th national conference that was held in Detroit. I was there representing the Detroit Regional Chapter of the US Green Building Council, and was pleased to see how many of those attending were LEED Accredited Professionals. It says a lot about how important green building principles are becoming in all areas of building and construction.
We have found, however, that many small-to-medium size architectural firms do not have a copy of the ASHRAE Energy Standard 90.1 in their office. This was true for my audience that day as well. When we work with architects on projects seeking LEED® certification, we always recommend they obtain their own copy.
Why do they need it?
ASHRAE Standard 90.1 is the energy standard for buildings. The building codes in most jurisdictions are based on this standard, so people involved in any building or construction should be familiar with it as there is an entire section on the building envelope. But it is a cumbersome and complex document, as Standards tend to be. So, equally important – as well as more valuable as a practical tool – is another manual written by ASHRAE, the Standard 90.1 User Manual, which explains and gives examples of the various sections of the Standard. It is twice the thickness of the Standard itself, and is 10 times as helpful!
In another part of my talk, I emphasized how there can be tradeoffs between the architect and the engineer for any given project. That’s where the concept of Integrated Design comes in. Everything from the building envelope through HVAC, lighting and plumbing can and should have both an attractive design and a practical, energy efficiency component.
Other important design integration factors architects should keep in mind include:
- Green your HVAC by specifying the right size and type of equipment and leaving enough room so that it can be well-maintained. This is better than having an energy efficient system that is too big, too small, too complex - or in disrepair.
- New regulations are coming – and in some jurisdictions are already here – that will require buildings to disclose energy performance. Building owners, and the architects and engineers who service them, must be prepared for these.
- Energy Audits should be conducted for any building renovation project. A quality energy analysis, performed by experienced professionals, will provide information for the renovation design. It will point out necessary repairs, replacements or retrofits of equipment and systems so the finished product will be more energy efficient and less costly to run.
Unfortunately, architects cannot dictate what maintenance a building owner or facility manager will employ. But they should remind their clients that even the best, most integrated design and construction will be doomed to failure without ongoing and proper maintenance.