A Better Way to Build
By: Steve Hotard
CM 455: Sustainable
This paper delves into the idea of passive design in the construction process. The paper will seek to identify major aspects of passive design and their benefits, as well as compare the traditional methods currently employed. These aspects will stress different ways, or techniques, that one could utilize in order to retrofit a dated building or apply to new construction. The three reasons why one would include passive design in their structure are as follows: 1. to improve the comfort of the individuals 2. to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from heating, cooling, mechanical venting, and lighting and 3. to reduce or eliminate heating and cooling bills. Due to the evidence herein, passive design can greatly reduce the energy consumption that is required to maintain a comfortable, habitable area, and in turn help save our valuable resources.
Green building is quickly becoming a “buzz” word in the construction industry. Green building is essentially controlling parts of the construction process, including the design all the way to conception, in order to minimize the effect on the environment surrounding the structure. “The construction industry alone has a tremendous impact in the way the natural environment is affected by human activities; whenever construction takes place, the surrounding environment will get affected. Due to this, the emphasis has been placed on sustainable development and both the need and responsibility of citizens and companies alike to do their utmost to reduce or minimize the impact” (1). One of the ways that a company can effectively reduce their impact on the environment as well as build a more self-sustaining structure is through “passive design.”
Passive design is the art of using natural elements and understanding a structure’s surroundings in order to heat, cool, and light a structure. This way of building has been around for centuries, first utilized by the Chinese and Greeks. Instead of climate maps or sun cycles, they used experience and whatever primitive concepts they had. The Greek philosopher Aeschylus wrote “Only primitives and barbarians lack knowledge of houses turned to face the winter sun” (2). Even the famous Roman baths had large, southern facing windows which would attract the heat into the pools. From there, passive solar design was not a large factor until after World War I, where people starting trying new window techniques and insulating experiments. While these steps from ancient until the 1940’s were with less technology, the world’s current push of sustainable building as well as new scientific breakthroughs daily has lead us to where we are today.
With the information from ancient civilizations and the new information that is being gathered, we are at a position where passive design can really take root as a standard for construction. While many may not share that vision, it may be a vision that is forced on our future generations. Some see the upfront costs of green building, or passive designing, to be too high for the reward. However, the financial costs as well as the overall durability of a building are greatly affected in a positive way. It is the intent of this paper to prove that passive design can improve habitable comfort, reduce or eliminate heating and cooling bills, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from heating, cooling, mechanical ventilation, and lighting of a structure. We will also discuss four ways and techniques which influence the passive design of a building. MAIN BENEFITS OBTAINED
Improve Habitable Comfort
This graph (3) shows the typical 30 year building costs, of which 92% of costs are caused by occupancy. This should not be confused with operating costs, which are the costs to maintain a facility. Occupancy costs are the costs most often associated with the salaries and wages of the employees...
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