Green Buildings & Benefits of Sustainable Design
Sustainability is the basis for the LEED rating system. Meeting a uniform standard in the design/construction of a facility is what qualifies it as a "green building". The rating system is an ever-evolving set of open standards that independent, federal, state and local agencies depend upon to qualify construction that is rated by the United States Green Building Council.
USGBC certified structures are rated on a number of criteria and achieve certification levels that are, on a scale of ever increasing energy efficiency, as follows:
- LEED Certified
- LEED Silver
- LEED Gold
- LEED Platinum
In the case of Other World Computing, we were determined to achieve the highest level of Platinum, as dictated by USGBC. This was achieved via "start to finish" management of the entire process of "sustainable design". This includes siting, construction and the actual operation and maintenance of the building over time.
Qualifying for Platinum
All LEED Standards are "green" - and by likening the achievements to Olympic medals, it provides
a clear measure for how projects differ from each other with regard to their achievement.
OWC's effort was graded upon such items as:
|• Building Life Cycle Costing
• Building Life Cycle Analysis
• Energy Analysis
• Materials and Product Specification
• Lighting and Daylighting
• Air Flow and Ventilation
• Mechanical/Electrical/Plumbing Systems
Green buildings are buildings that minimize the impact they have on the environment. This includes:
|• How the building makes use of energy
• How construction materials are manufactured and delivered
• How, over the life cycle of the building, the toll on the earth's resources is minimized.
Green design includes the impact that the building environment will have on its occupants, especially in terms of comfort, health and well being. In short, green buildings are healthy buildings.
The operation of the building, including the way it is maintained, also has an effect on the environment. This includes the choice of solvents for cleaning; high-efficiency air conditioning filters; using energy efficient lighting fixtures ; choosing carpeting with lower toxin levels; and reducing dependence on non-renewable energy resources such as fossil fuels. Green buildings are sometimes called "High Performance" buildings because they cost significantly less to operate and have significantly higher efficiency rating compared to "standard" building code.
Other World Computing expects to save nearly 50% in energy costs over our current structure, despite the new structure being 3 times the size! Guidance provided by our LEED Consultant as well as the Smart Energy Design
Assistance Center (SEDAC), at the University of Illinois, has streamlined the process of integrated planning, site orientation, the use of energy-saving technologies, light-reflective materials, natural daylight and ventilation, as well as downsized HVAC.
OWC will benefit from significant savings during the life of the building through other measures, such as natural landscaping, water-saving equipment, low-maintenance materials, recycling of debris and smart building controls. With the help of these technologies, green buildings save money throughout their life cycle.