U.S. Department of Energy: "Design Approach", Solar Energy Research Facility, Golden, CO.
A high-performance commercial building is a building with energy, economic, and environmental performance that is substantially better than standard practice. It's energy efficient, so it saves money and natural resources. It's a healthy place to live and work for its occupants and has relatively low impact on the environment. All this is achieved through a process called whole-building design.
Whole-building commercial design considers all building components during the design phase. It integrates all the subsystems and parts of the building to work together. Because all the pieces must fit together, it is essential that the design team be fully integrated from the beginning of the process. The building design team can include architects, engineers, building occupants and owners, and specialists in areas such as indoor air quality, materials, and energy use.
Whole-building design takes into consideration the building structure and systems as a whole and examines how these systems work best together to save energy and reduce environmental impact. For example, a building that uses extensive daylighting techniques will reduce the amount of heat given off by lighting fixtures, thus allowing for a smaller air conditioning system. This whole-building philosophy considers site, energy, materials, indoor air quality, acoustics, natural resources, and their interrelation.
This approach brings together building design, energy efficiency, and today's solar technologies to boost your energy savings and make the most of all your building's elements. It reduces the amount of energy required to operate a building compared to conventional buildings. It improves the comfort of building occupants by using pleasing architectural designs to brighten up work areas using sunlight rather than electricity, without causing excess glare.
What are the benefits of whole-building design?
Commercial buildings consume 17% of the total energy consumed in the United States. By creating buildings that use less energy and have lower power demands, greater robustness of the buildings as well as the power grid is achieved. This reduces the need for fossil fuels and consequential environmental impact.
Benefits of whole-building design include:
• Reduce energy use by 50% or more
• Reduced maintenance and capital costs
• Reduced environmental impact
• Increased occupant comfort and health
• Increased employee productivity
Employee productivity and business profitability are linked. Recent studies have shown an increase in employee productivity when buildings are designed with occupants in mind—natural light, comfortable temperatures, and a quiet work environment being the most important issues. Research suggests that a well-designed workplace can increase employee productivity by 20%. Further, studies also show that a pleasant indoor building environment helps attract desirable tenants for building owners, increasing the number of potential renters for a building...