By: Katie Tich, LEED Green Associate
What is Sustainable Design?
Sustainable design is an aspect of building construction focused on reducing negative impacts on the environment, improving the health of building occupants, and subsequently, maximizing building performance. This has become a key component to construction and renovation projects and there are a variety of certifications that projects can receive to indicate their sustainable status such as Green Globes, SITES, Green Communities, and LEED.
LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the most common sustainable building certification system we use so let’s dive a little deeper into what the LEED certification and rating system is all about. The LEED program is run by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). The LEED framework is designed to help buildings optimize energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, preserve habitats and ecosystems, minimize project construction waste, utilize more sustainable materials, conserve water, and provide clean and healthy spaces for the people who use them. An internationally renowned stamp of sustainable excellence, LEED certification is an accomplishment that benefits everyone in the surrounding community!
What Role Does Straughan Play?
As the sustainability consultant on a myriad of building projects undergoing LEED (or other green building) certification, Straughan’s Sustainable Design group works closely with the building project team—we actually become a part of the project team—to guide the owner and team to set project-specific goals, implement a plan, and carry out that plan to meet the project’s sustainability goals. Each project is a little bit different, so we help designers and contractors tailor the sustainability elements to each project.
Sometimes the focus is energy, so we plan early to interact with the mechanical designers on the energy model. If water use reduction is the focus, we can use our engineering prowess to bring systems and ideas to the table. For example, the owner of a high-rise apartment project might want a building that uses less water than average and creates as little waste as possible during the construction process. As the sustainability consultant, Straughan would help the designers of the building select the most efficient plumbing fixtures, investigate the feasibility of rainwater harvesting, and reduce the amount of irrigation needed on the property. During construction, Straughan would help the contractor identify recyclable and reusable construction waste materials and divert as much as possible from the landfill, minimizing the waste created by the building project.
On previous projects, we have put the contractor in touch with carpet recyclers and waste haulers who work to keep additional waste out of the landfill. With regards to materials, we analyze and recommend sustainable building materials as part of the “using resources wisely” goals.
Want to Learn More?
If you would like to learn more about our projects, check out our Sustainable Design page and send us an email!
LEED certification is a large part of our work, but there is so much more to what we do in Straughan’s Sustainable Design group — stay tuned for future updates about what else we do for our clients!