Designing and constructing low-energy buildings makes sense for a lot of reasons. If you are a building owner, you don’t have to pay for any energy that you don’t use, making a low-energy use building more cost-effective. A low-energy building may also help to mitigate climate change since energy use results in carbon emissions that contribute to global warming. Climate-responsive architecture is complicated, but here are a few basics.
- Use Stack Ventilation
Stack ventilation is a method of cooling a building based on the fact that hot air rises. Outlets at the top of the building allow hot air to escape while inlets at the bottom draw cooler air inside. Efficient distribution of air may require linear slot diffuser products, but it’s well worth it if you can cool the building without having to run any central air.
- Plan Multiple Stories
The larger the building footprint, the more energy the occupants are likely to consume. One effective way of minimizing the footprint of the building is to plan multiple stories. This results in more wall area and fewer excavation costs. Of course, this is only feasible if municipal codes allow for multi-story buildings.
- Design Around the Sun
Mechanically heating and cooling the building is a major reason for energy use. If you can design the building so that the sun warms the interior spaces during the winter yet doesn’t bake them in the summer, you may be able to reduce mechanical heating and cooling costs to close to zero.
- Take the Geographic Area Into Consideration
It may seem so obvious that it is not even worth stating, but whether the geographic area is hot or cold, humid or arid, makes a huge difference when it comes to factors such as vapor barriers and insulation.
It may also be necessary for the building’s occupants to adjust to new comfort standards. For example, cooling the building to the low-to-mid 70s in the summer is unnecessary if occupants are allowed to wear season-appropriate clothing, such as shorts.