Buildings are large consumers of resources and producers of environmental impacts throughout the world. As a result of these impacts, buildings are receiving increasing attention to improve function, reduce costs and reduce environmental impact. At the same time, architectural interests are flourishing to promote ‘aesthetic’ designs. In addition, there is continuing concern to make buildings better at supporting the occupants through improved ventilation, noise control and temperature control.
As noted in Chapter 10, ‘Green buildings’ standards are becoming much more prevalent, with many entities committed to such buildings, including the US General Services Administration (GSA) (https://www.gsa.gov/portal/content/123747). The most common standard in the US is the Green Building Alliance’s (a private non-profit group) ‘Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design’ (LEED) (USGBC, 2016). It is based on a point award system for a checklist of possible design and construction activities. Prerequisites and credits are included in the categories of:
- Sustainable site characteristics
- Water efficiency
- Energy and atmosphere
- Materials and resources
- Indoor environmental quality
- Innovation in design
Buildings are certified to different levels of standards based on submitted documentation and the published point system. Achieving savings in energy inputs during the building operational phase is of particular interest in the design stages.
Building construction and management improvement are continuing targets for research and innovation. Active areas include computer aids (such as Building Information Modeling), lean construction practices, new materials, pre-manufactured components, building resiliency, and life cycle costing for management.