Whole Building Design, by Don Prowler, FAIA - Donald Prowler & Associates
Revised and updated by Stephanie Vierra - Steven Winter Associates, Inc.
THE ROLE OF BUILDINGS AND THE CASE FOR WHOLE BUILDING DESIGN
Buildings are deceptively complex.
At their best, they connect us with the past and represent the greatest legacy for the future. They provide shelter, encourage productivity, embody our culture, and certainly play an important part in life on the planet. In fact, the role of buildings is constantly changing. Buildings today are life support systems, communication and data terminals, centers of education, justice, and community, and so much more. They are incredibly expensive to build and maintain and must constantly be adjusted to function effectively over their life cycle. The economics of building has become as complex as its design.
Buildings also annually consume over 40% of the energy in the U.S., the vast majority of which primarily depend on energy produced from nonrenewable, fossil fuel sources—coal, oil, natural gas—extracted from the Earth and burned to produce electricity. Through this process, buildings are responsible for more than a third of greenhouse gas emissions. The build up is intensifying in the atmosphere and changing climate in ways that may affect weather patterns, sea level, and the land masses that support life. Buildings often contribute to health problems such as asthma and allergies due to poor indoor environmental quality. Since the events of 9/11, safety has become paramount in buildings with security-related expenditures one of the fastest rising expenses...