While the definition of sustainable building design is constantly changing, six fundamental principles persist.
Optimize Site/Existing Structure Potential Creating sustainable buildings starts with proper site selection, including consideration of the reuse or rehabilitation of existing buildings. The location, orientation, and landscaping of a building affect the local ecosystems, transportation methods, and energy use. Incorporate Smart growth principles in the project development process, whether it be a single building, campus or military base. Siting for physical security is a critical issue in optimizing site design, including locations of access roads, parking, vehicle barriers, and perimeter lighting. Whether designing a new building or retrofitting an existing building, site design must integrate with sustainable design to achieve a successful project. The site of a sustainable building should reduce, control, and/or treat stormwater runoff.
Optimize Energy Use
With America's supply of fossil fuel dwindling, concerns for energy independence and security increasing, and the impacts of global climate change arising, it is essential to find ways to reduce load, increase efficiency, and utilize renewable energy resources in federal facilities. Improving the energy performance of existing buildings is important to increasing our energy independence. Government and private sector organizations are committing to net zero energy buildings in the next decade or so as a way to significantly reduce our dependence on fossil fuel.
Protect and Conserve Water
In many parts of the country, fresh water is an increasingly scarce resource. A sustainable building should use water efficiently, and reuse or recycle water for on-site use, when feasible.
Use Environmentally Preferable Products
A sustainable building is constructed of materials that minimize life-cycle environmental impacts such as global warming, resource depletion, and human toxicity. Environmentally preferable materials have a reduced effect on human health and the environment and contribute to improved worker safety and health, reduced liabilities, reduced disposal costs, and achievement of environmental goals.
Enhance Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ)
The indoor environmental quality (IEQ) of a building has a significant impact on occupant health, comfort, and productivity. Among other attributes, a sustainable building maximizes daylighting; has appropriate ventilation and moisture control; and avoids the use of materials with high-VOC emissions. Additionally, consider ventilation and filtration to mitigate chemical, biological, and radiological attack.
Optimize Operational and Maintenance Practices
Considering a building's operating and maintenance issues during the preliminary design phase of a facility will contribute to improved working environments, higher productivity, reduced energy and resource costs, and prevented system failures. Encourage building operators and maintenance personnel to participate in the design and development phases to ensure optimal operations and maintenance of the building. Designers can specify materials and systems that simplify and reduce maintenance requirements; require less water, energy, and toxic chemicals and cleaners to maintain; and are cost-effective and reduce life-cycle costs. Additionally, design facilities to include meters in order to track the progress of sustainability initiatives, including reductions in energy and water use and waste generation, in the facility and on site.