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Building Sustainability

> There is no new fuel that can match the intensity of energy in fossil fuels, so strategies to replace “cheap” fossil fuel inputs is a puzzle of many very small improvements.



- Design to minimize heat loss through foundation, exterior wall and roof assemblies. Install superior insulation than the minimums described by the Building Code.


- Build tight but plan for uncontrolled air movements to take advantage of the weather, make the optimal easy


- Mechanical and lighting systems have to be sensitive to zones within floorplates, and share heating/cooling between zones


- Take full advantage of fossil fuel inputs, by “mining” the energy going up flues and outvents, capturing energy using heat exchangers


- Natural stack effects in tall buildings mean atriums can become solar chimneys, helping to vent your building with minimal ongoing energy inputs


- Energy savings should be automated and not require extraordinary effort


- Be mindful of the a cold climate, most of the frame should be on the inside, as protruding fins will draw out interior heat in the winter, just like on the radiator of a car. Windows should be operable, double or triple glazed, be gas-filled and film-coated to suit the orientation. The frames must be designed to eliminate thermal bridging. If you have to cut costs, lower your standards first on the east and south facing windows. Better windows will increase occupant comfort while lowering capital expenditures on mechanical equipment as well as lowering ongoing energy costs.


- Eliminate or reduce need for air-conditioning through cross-ventilation and/or the use of cold sinks to hold coolness from the night air


- “Hot” lighting sources are wasting energy unless required for a specific use. Make wide use of efficient lighting sources, such as fluorescent, cold cathode, light plasma or LEDs


- Light to appropriate levels by making wide use of electronic lighting dimmers, which can also significantly extend the life of light bulbs and reduce unwanted heat gain


- Occupancy sensors, both for lighting and for running the mechanical system, can significantly reduce ongoing energy and maintenance costs by turning off lighting when it is not needed and slowing variable-speed drives in your HVAC system as well as decreasing fresh air inputs when they are not needed, so you condition less air


- In a Passive House building it is more desireable to have smaller motors that run continuously than to use variable-speed drives in the ventilating system


- Make extensive use of daylighting, but the light design must control glare. Light shelves can “bounce” light deep into buildings.


- Consider skylights with automated shades for energy and light control


- The walls near the tops of buildings get significantly wetter in rainstorms (they can receive up to 20 times more rain). The materials used at the top of the building may need to be more impervious, and stronger than that required lower down the face of the building. A rain-screen assembly, where a skin is lifted off of the main wall assembly diminishes the effect of pressure differentials between the exterior and interior of a building, keeping rain from being driven into the main wall assembly. Water infiltration into (or condensation within) assemblies is the #1 enemy for the building envelope.


- Draining water from window sills must also be carefully considered. The sills need to project a minimum of 25mm from the face of the building and incorporate a drip edge.


- Keeping the rain away from the building face using overhangs at the top can reduce future maintenance costs.


- Water systems can be designed to use rain and greywater resources. Water saving technologies should be specified (eg. Low-flow and/or sensor activated fixtures)


- Submeter utilities to all suites, and floor areas, even within departments or divisions. It is easy to do when you are building, and not so easy once you have built your building


- Complex building shapes and decorative architectural flourishes may result in increased wall area, which will tend to increase heat loss. Buildings built to the Passive House standard tend to have simple forms.


- Make sure your new building has an automation plan, which can decrease ongoing costs and nip problems in the bud.


- light sensors can automatically raise and lower window shades to control glare or heat gain, and as well slowly brighten or dim lighting to take advantage of daylight availability in order to minimize electrical use


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