Whole Building Design


Kate Diamond, AIA, LEED AP, spoke with me this morning about whole building audits. Developers, building owners and occupants are all in a position to benefit from a holistic building audit. The whole building approach to energy usage and air quality optimizes assets and minimizes costs. In existing buildings, the assessment identifies where most energy is wasted, and allows building owners and tenants to develop alternatives and phased plans for optimization.  

Kyoto - bamboo forest

Humans thrive on exposure to daylight, views, and clean air. Strategies can be as simple as the use of low VOC paints on all renovations, to placing high walls perpendicular to windows, and lower walls parallel – adding daylight deeper into the building floorplate. I spent the morning in this west facing conference room, and noticed as the meeting adjourned that the light sensors had kept the lights off the entire time (daylight was more than adequate, and very pleasant), and I was inhaling the scent of rain on bamboo leaves in the alley below through the open windows.   


Kyoto - palace garden pavillion

Balancing strategies can be unexpected – like the 2 foot ceiling to floor height achieved here by use of the interstitial floor space as a plenum, eliminating ductwork and the building height associated with it (typically 4 feet) – a significant reduction in building height, along with increased daylight due to open clear ceilings. Other strategies may be expected – updating lighting (reducing energy consumption) while capturing utility incentives and tax credits, or balancing the cost of an exterior skin modifications against savings in air conditioning and lighting loads. 

NBBJ - Seattle, photography Benjamin Benschneider

Understanding the competition and their green lease offerings is also a tool in the development of optimization strategies. Understanding tenant behavior impacts and the demands for quality of light and air is critical, and will add pressure to this competitive marketplace.