Modern Building Design – Is it Green Yet?

What makes a building design green? Sustainable materials, especially those available locally, or can it be recycled. Other choices include reusable, renewable and nontoxic materials. Building designers may also choose the orientation of the building on the site to take advantage of the sun or a breeze, or to minimize unfavorable weather conditions.

Construction methods and techniques are chosen to minimize environmental disruption of the building site and reduce construction waste. Renewable energy sources such as active or passive solar or wind power may be included in the building design. High efficiency water, energy and waste systems are often included to reduce the long-term operating costs.

In spite of the recent global economic problems, sustainable building projected to increase. In part the growth is fueled by a growing number of government initiatives and by increasing public demand for green products and services. More and more often the public expects and even prefers to do business with “green companies.

The US is not alone in implementing governmental building design initiatives. Canada, France, Germany, India, Israel, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United Kingdom have gotten involved. All have explored, recommended or implemented some form of sustainable building design initiatives or standards.

The unprecedented public demand for all things “green” has spurred a bevy of competing green building standards. The best known is the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System created by the US Green Building Council. Dozens of others exist, yet there is no national green building standard.

The lack of a national standard combined with increasing public demand has led some companies to falsely claim their buildings are green. In some cases the building designer has not considered sustainability at all. These companies may believe they cannot adequately compete in the marketplace without some claim to one green building standard or another.

Green building design is now an important world wide trend in construction. Its rise to importance, has taken decades.  Many experts believe that in the future all building design will be green. It won’t be discretionary and it won’t be a novelty. It will be the standard way buildings are designed. We’re not there yet, but we’re moving in the right direction and moving quickly.

Architect or Building Designer – Who Do You Choose?

Thinking of building a new home or complex? Will you use an architect or a building designer?

Both are involved in the design of buildings – their appearance, layout, structure, and so on. But what’s the difference?

The simplest difference is a legal one. To be called an “architect” in NSW, you have to be registered with the Board of Architects of NSW. The title “building designer” can be used by anyone designing buildings.

But that’s hardly even scratching the surface. Brian Basford is a building designer and treasurer of the Building Designers Association of NSW. He suggests that building designers are generally less expensive, and mostly involved in less flamboyant buildings. “It’s horses for courses. Most architects probably wouldn’t want to design a single bedroom extension for a pensioner, whereas I’ve done a lot of that.”

Brian also stressed that there are quite often overlaps between what architects do and what building designers do. There’s no simple rule. “But no matter what the job, good building designers and good architects both produce quality work”, he says.

Architect Gary Kurzer agrees that architects are more likely to be involved with more distinctive, “up-market” buildings. But not because of cost. “Architects work to your budget just like building designers. The real reason is that architects are a little more likely to stretch the boundaries and challenge convention.”

According to Gary, you should generally choose an architect if you want more than just a literal translation of your brief. “My clients normally have a rough idea of what they want. I take that idea and transform it into something they love, but could never have imagined themselves.”

The most important thing is knowing what you want from the service, and choosing someone that suits your job.

And whether you choose an architect or building designer, remember, qualifications are no guarantee of quality. Always ask to see previous examples of their work. Ask for references from previous customers. Ask to see their qualifications. Ask how long they’ve been working. Do they have professional indemnity insurance? Are they a member of an accredited body?…

In the end, it’s like anything else… there’s no substitute for common sense.

Thanks to Gary Kurzer, Architect, 0411044448, and Brian Basford, Building Designer.

FAQs

Q: Are architects and building designers the same thing?

A: No. Architects must be registered with the Board of Architects of NSW.

Q: Will I get a better design from an architect?

A: Not necessarily. The only guarantee is a minimum level of qualifications. Architects must have a Bachelor of Architecture degree (5 years) as well as the demonstrated ability to deal with clients and satisfy their requirements. Generally this means at least a couple of years experience in an architect’s office.

Q: Are building designers more in touch with builders and other trades?

A: Not necessarily. Architects are trained to deal with and manage all aspects of the building project. It all comes down to the individual’s experience and abilities.

Q: Are Building designers “would-be” architects?

A: No. Building design is a recognised profession with its own national body (the BDAA) offering 3 levels of accreditation based on experience and quality – but registration isn’t compulsory. Many building designers have the qualifications to register with the Board of Architects but they choose not to because they don’t think the name “architect” is worth the ongoing cost of registration.

Q: Are architects more expensive?

A: Not necessarily. An architect will work to your budget like a building designer. They can do anything from a simple design to very complex interior and exterior detailing to superintendence of the building process. Your building costs and ongoing running costs may also be less. For example, find out if your architect is incorporating cost-saving measures into the building process. They may also design to take advantage of natural lighting, ventilation, heating, cooling, etc. which will save you less in electricity.

Q: How do I tell if they’re really an architect?

A: Call the Board of Architects of NSW – (02) 93564900 or visit [http://www.boarch.nsw.gov.au/f_consumer.html].

Q: How do I look for an accredited building designer?

A: Call the Building Designers Association of NSW – Sydney (02) 49264855 or visit http://www.bdansw.com.au or [http://www.bdaa.com.au/index.htm].

Q: Where else can I go for further information?

A: http://www.architecture.com.au – Royal Australian Institute of Architects

http://www.bdansw.com.au – Building Designers Association of NSW

Why Consider Green Building Design

Green building design is now the most used phrase in the construction community as it is increasingly leading the modern day building policies in the western world. Unlike conventional homes, the aim of green architecture is to address various aspects like energy conservation and reduction in water consumption along with smart usage of renewable energy sources to power the building premises.

A well trained and experienced green architect can help you with the process of constructing an Eco-friendly building by making use of the best tools and materials. It’s not just about making use of the Eco-friendly systems like using HVAC systems but also designing every inch of the property, for instance the ventilation, walls, insulation and windows to achieve your energy objectives. It’s not just about making your building cost effective (at least 30% savings) but also reducing the carbon impact it makes to a great extent.

By engaging a green builder you are not only saying yes to making use of solar panels wherever possible but even usage of nontoxic paints. This not only pushes you to the pinnacle of modern living but a healthy living environment for your family. It is essential to engage a builder who is well certified (LEED) and trained in this field. Before hiring one, it’s better to have an initial meeting to know more about the experience and knowledge the architect holds to take up your project.

An expert architect will deal with several aspects of the construction process such as:

– Designs the building in such a way to reduce any negative effect it can have on the environment.

– Makes use of sophisticated green technology and tools along with renewable systems and Eco-friendly products to construct and equip the building

– Comes up with a plan to decrease the overall energy and water usage

– The green construction will make use of the latest environmental systems whether for heating/cooling purposes. For instance, the usage of geothermal heat pumps can have a big impact on how your building’s temperature gets affected

– The builder will also educate you on the whole construction process and maintenance required later on. So in essence he/she will keep you informed about the advantages and savings you can make every month on your new green home

Needless to say, your green Eco friendly building’s market value will be a lot higher when compared to conventional homes. So it’s time you interviewed your local architects to find the best contractor among them.