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Sustainable Building


TEDTalks : Buildings that can repair itself by Rachel Armstrong (2009)

12.2.1 Define intelligent building, living building, grey water, black water, building envelope, U value, passive solar design, daylighting and active solar collection.

Intelligent building
Intelligent buildings apply technologies to improve the building environment and functionality for occupants and tenants while controlling costs to improve end-user security, comfort and accessibility and help user productivity.
Living building
Houses and offices designed to function like living organisms, specifically adapted to place and able to draw all of their requirements for energy and water from the surrounding sun, wind and rain.
Grey water
Waste water generated from processes such as washing dishes, bathing and laundry.
Black water
Water that contains animal, human or food waste and would not be reused for other purposes.
Building envelope
The exterior surface of a building’s construction: the walls, windows, roof and floor. Also referred to as “building shell”.
U value
A measure of the thermal conductance of a material. The higher the U value, the greater the conduction.
Passive solar design
The technique of heating and cooling a building naturally without the use of mechanical equipment.
The passive solar practice of placing windows, or other transparent media, and reflective surfaces so that, during the day, natural sunlight provides effective internal illumination.
Active solar collection
The use of the Sun’s energy to heat up water and air directly.
Daylighting Black & Grey water Building envelope
Intelligent Building Living Building Passive solar design
Active solar design

12.2.2 List five objectives for sustainable buildings.

Objectives for sustainable buildings:
  • resource efficiency
  • energy efficiency
  • pollution prevention (including indoor air quality and noise abatement)
  • harmonisation with the environment (including environmental assessment)
  • integrated and systemic approaches (including environmental management systems).

12.2.3 Explain the benefits of intelligent buildings to sustainable building design.

Effective energy management system, for example, provides lowest cost energy, avoids waste of energy by managing occupied space, and makes efficient use of staff through centralized control and integrating information from different sources.

12.2.4 Outline the key features of living buildings.

Harvest their own water and energy needs on site. Adapted specifically to site and climate and evolve as conditions change. Operate pollution-free and generate no waste that is not useful for some other process in the building or the immediate environment. Promote the health and well-being of all inhabitants. Comprise integrated systems that maximise efficiency and comfort. Improve the health and diversity of the local ecosystem rather than degrade it.

12.2.5 Identify ways in which water consumption in buildings can be optimised through reduction of water consumption and recycling.

Toilets (low flush, cistern displacement, waterless (composting, incinerating)), urinals (controls, waterless), wash-hand basins (push taps, flow controls), showers (water-saving shower heads or systems), water control in gardens and outside spaces, water-saving washing machines, water supply (auto shut-off and pressure regulators), rain water and grey water recycling systems.

12.2.6 Identify ways in which material use can be optimised through the life cycle of a building.

Manufacture: waste reduction, pollution prevention, use of recycled materials, embodied energy reduction (the quantity of energy required with all the activities associated with the production process, for example, energy to quarry, transport and manufacture building materials plus energy used in construction), natural materials.
Operation: energy efficiency, water treatment and conservation, non-toxic, renewable energy resources, longer life.
Disposal: biodegradable, recyclable, reusable.

The following websites give an interesting look from paints to carpets as well

  • Green Building Materials web site from the California State Gov.
  • The thoreau Centre for sustainability in buildings

12.2.7 Identify waste management strategies appropriate for sustainable buildings.

Waste prevention, recycling construction and demolition materials, architectural reuse (adaptive reuse, conservative disassembly, reuse of salvaged materials). Design for material recovery.

12.2.8 Identify ways in which the indoor environment of buildings can be optimised.

Indoor air quality, visual quality, acoustic quality, noise control, system controllability.

12.2.9 Explain how the building envelope contributes to the amount of energy a building uses during its operation.

Building envelope design is a major factor in determining the amount of energy a building will use in its operation. The building envelope must balance requirements for ventilation and daylight while providing thermal and moisture protection appropriate to prevailing climate.

12.2.10 Identify the key considerations to take into account when selecting materials for the building envelope.

Consider climate and activities inside the building.
Queenslander wikipedia reference.

Queensland is a Northern State of Australia. It is has a tropical climate that is hot and wet. The Queenslander design features like the raised floor allows ventilation under the building, the balconies offers shade and restrict the amount of sunlight that enters the house and more. The Wikipeadia reference explains it in more detail. The wood material is chosen for its U value properties.

12.2.11 Explain how the selection of different construction materials with different U values can contribute to heat loss or gain from a building.

Building materials conduct heat at different rates. Components of the envelope such as foundation walls, sills, studs, joists and connectors can create paths for the transfer of thermal energy.
Thermograms by InfraTec GmbH

12.2.12 Identify four factors that determine the heat flow through a material.

Area, thickness, temperature difference and thermal conductivity.

12.2.13 Calculate heat loss or gain through a building envelope comprising different materials.

Heat flow = wall area × temperature difference × U value

12.2.14 Explain how passive solar design can contribute to passive solar heating and/or cooling and reduce energy consumption in buildings.

When sunlight strikes a building, the building materials can reflect, transmit or absorb the solar radiation. Heat from the Sun causes air movement that can be predictable in designed spaces. Thus design elements, material choices and location can provide heating and cooling effects in a building.

The Right House company explains there approach to buidling design.

Aspect Shading Room orientation
Summer - indirect sunlight low heating Winter - direct sunlight more heating Integrated approach of Right House

12.2.15 Identify three ways in which passive solar design can be achieved.

Appropriate solar orientation (for example, elongate the east–west axis of the building, interior spaces requiring the most light and heating and/or cooling should face the Sun, less used spaces should be away from the Sun); use of thermal mass; appropriate ventilation and window placement; roof overhangs.

12.2.16 Explain how landscaping can contribute to reductions in energy consumption for buildings.

Careful landscape planning can reduce cooling and/or heating costs by 30%. Trees, grass and shrubs will also reduce air temperatures near the building and provide evaporative cooling. Trees provide shade, reduce the surface temperature of buildings and prevent direct heat gain through windows. Deciduous trees can provide shade in summer and admit light in winter when the leaves fall. Evergreen trees provide year-round Sun and wind protection. Windbreaks can reduce wind within a distance of three times their height.

12.2.17 Explain how daylighting can contribute to reductions in energy consumption for buildings.

Daylighting significantly reduces energy consumption and operating costs. Energy used for lighting in buildings can account for 40–50% of total energy consumption. The cooling required to counter waste heat generated by lights can amount to 3–5% of total energy use. Daylighting reduces the need for electrical light sources, cutting down on electricity use and its associated costs and pollution.

12.2.18 Explain how active solar collection can contribute to reductions in energy consumption for buildings.

Active solar collector systems take advantage of the Sun to provide energy for domestic water heating, pool heating, ventilation air pre-heat, and space heating. Water heating for domestic use is generally the most economical application of active solar systems. The demand for hot water is fairly constant throughout the year, so the solar system provides energy savings year-round. Major components of a system include collectors, a circulation system that moves the fluid between the collectors and storage, the storage tank, a control system, and a back-up heating system.


Bulleted list and italicised paragraphs are excerpted from Design Technology: guide. Cardiff Wales, UK: International Baccalaureate Organization, 2007.

Images are clickable links to its location.

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Page last modified on March 11, 2012, at 01:36 AM