How to optimize site potential during building design

March 25, 2016

When developing energy-efficient buildings, the location of the building site affects the sustainability of the entire project. Designers must consider the ecosystem, potential energy consumption and other environmental factors for effective sustainable site planning. Minimizing habitat disturbance, carbon emissions and controlling runoff are all recommended methods for optimizing a site's energy potential. To boost their building's energy efficiency percentage even further, designers can also maximize natural ventilation and daylight.

"Natural ventilation can save 20 to 30 percent of energy consumption."

Maximizing ventilation
Natural ventilation can save buildings anywhere from 20 to 30 percent of energy consumption in comparison to traditional air-conditioning methods, Andy Walker wrote for Whole Building Design Guide. For centuries, designers used natural ventilation methods to cool homes and commercial buildings through using pressure differences to circulate air throughout the rooms. Whether by the wind or buoyancy effects from temperature differences, modern designers can use these historic methods to reduce overall energy dependency of their buildings. Narrow structures with open rooms are ideal for designers looking to maximize energy efficiency in this way.

Maximizing daylight
Before the invention of electric lighting, designers and homeowners used innovative methods for getting the most sunlight out of their daylight hours. Current daylight design methods, Gregg Ander explained at Whole Building Design, are shown to reduce energy consumption by an estimated one-third, leading to major utility savings. Daylighting expands beyond installing large windows or skylights. It deals with energy-saving window glazing and designing buildings so that light is evenly distributed throughout the day. Designers should also be wary of designing buildings with too much direct sunlight. While those are energy-efficient, they may cause serious discomfort for the building's occupants. 

For designers looking to maximize their building's energy savings, working with a professional energy consultant is incredibly beneficial. To learn more, contact Benningfield Group today!