Green Design: Considerations for Sustainability
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By now you are probably aware that “green” and sustainable design is a hot topic in the field of architecture. There are many resources to find out more about it and how it relates to any construction project that you may be considering. Below are some basics to consider when deciding what will be best for you, your budget, and the environment.
There are two major organizations that promote and certify green (environmentally sustainable) buildings in California: the United States Green Building Council and Build It Green. In addition, the state has approved the 2010 California Green Building Standards (CALgreen).
The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has a certification rating system called Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design or LEED. LEED comes in 4 rankings—certified, silver, gold and platinum. All LEED certifications must be independently verified by an accredited LEED professional, and the verification process to obtain the certification adds cost because it must be done in tandem with the design and construction. Because the state of California has such stringent environmental building codes (e.g. Title-24), many new buildings and major remodels might qualify as “LEED-certified” or “LEED-silver” without too much additional effort, but in order to obtain the LEED designation the verification must be part of the project from the outset. (You don’t obtain it retroactively.) LEED-gold and platinum ratings require deliberate consideration of design features, building systems, and materials selections that are out of the ordinary to meet the rating guidelines. There is a good overview of the LEED system on Wikipedia or visit USGBC website for additional information.
Build It Green is a California non-profit that is targeted primarily at residential construction for new and existing homes. It features a GreenPoint rating system that is performed by GreenPoint raters that are certified by Build It Green. Architects and Engineers can obtain a Certified Green Building Professional credential to assist homeowners in green building design. Often GreenPoint rated homes have a higher resale value and have reduced utilities costs. There are free checklists and guidelines online at their website: www.builditgreen.org. This website provides some ideas about which features you may want to incorporate in a new or remodeled home design.
California is the first state in the country to adopt green building standards. It is officially known as Part 11 of the 2010 Title 24 Building Standards Code, also known as the CALGreen Code. The CALGreen Code became effective on January 1, 2011 and is posted online at www.bsc.ca.gov/Home/CALGreen.aspx. Some cities and counties require a baseline amount of green analysis on all remodels and additions. Check with us if you would like to know the requirements in your Bay Area location.
Whether you want to go “all green” and design your building to the latest standards in sustainable architecture, or just make an effort to choose environmentally-friendly methods where possible and within your budget, there are many resources to provide guidance and information. Don’t hesitate to ask us what your options for green design might be. At The Kastrop Group, we are committed to promoting green and sustainable architecture whenever possible.