At its core, architecture is resource intensive, and the buildings we construct consume large amounts of energy. We can change how we design and build when we acknowledge this reality. Our role as architects is to understand the unintended consequences of our craft and then develop strategies to mitigate them. We constantly look for new and better ways to design buildings that add value through architectural simplicity, building durability, and resource conservation strategies.
Recently, I participated in AIA Utah's "ZNE Affordable Housing" seminar where we had a great discussion around achieving zero-net energy (ZNE). Here are some key takeaways.
Starting with a goal of net zero helps steer conversations toward energy conservation. During those conversations we can chart how close to net zero your project can be. We understand that not all projects will achieve net zero and are here to help you understand and implement the best sustainability solutions for your project.
Developing sustainability goals is as important as considering the spaces you need in your building. There are countless solutions available, and it's essential to understand what is feasible within your budget. We look at net zero energy solutions in three tiers - no cost, low cost, and high cost. Then we look at the impact of each initiative and its upfront costs vs. payback period. From there, we can make informed decisions together and build more responsibly.
Here are a few examples of the sustainability initiatives we've implemented into our recent projects.
As Architects, we bring together your hopes and goals for your new project and align those with the most cost effective way to create an energy efficient project. By incorporating any of the above techniques, we must design with net zero in mind from the beginning, work with the right consultants and engineers who can think outside the norm, follow through on details in both design and construction, and pay attention to the performance of the building after it is built.
In addition, the most important aspect is an owner, architect and contractor team committed to energy efficiency. These components make for a successful project where the goals are met and our impact on the built environment is a positive one.