Four steps in the High Performance Design process
“To measure is to know. If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it.” – Lord Kelvin. This same thinking can be applied to the built environment and the design process to attain maximum operation results.
The diagram below identifies the 4 steps to achieve high performance design and the goals associated with each step.
This process can be applied to any resource for evaluation, examples used here – Energy, Water, Waste, and People.
When we look at Energy, we want to minimize the load as a first priority, and then utilize cost effective and appropriate systems to maximize operations. Alternative options and cost savings can be found in our Ventilation systems, think demand ventilation and CFD analysis; our Heating & Cooling systems, think radiant sources and passive cooling; and our Lighting systems, think LEDs and natural lighting.
Water is considered “high-grade resource, low-grade uses,” meaning utilize efficient equipment, free water, and don’t forget about the site! Efficient equipment such as low flow fixtures can mean an immediate 33% savings! Buildings can capitalize on free water by harvesting rainwater – 20% of our projects reuse water. Think outside the box, look at the site and landscape and how it can contribute, consider bio-retention, bio-swals, porous pavement, permeable pavers, and even green roofs.
Waste although not always thought of as a resource, is a player in our ability to be sustainable and save resources. Remember “the most sustainable thing you can do is re-purpose an existing structure.” Renovation and adaptive reuse not only preserves the context but has a direct impact on the carbon footprint. Re-purposed resources provide opportunities for designers to innovate while diverting materials away from our landfills, and encourage all of us to think about the life cycle of a building, and design it to last the next 100 years.
And lastly, don’t forget the People aspect. There is a quantitative importance to understanding your user groups. Health and wellness is a lifestyle, users expect this in their daily lives and in the buildings they live in, work in and play in. Look for ways to surpass the expectations, with flexible workspace, connection to nature and ergonomics.