Here is an executive summary of some key findings by LEED:Low energy and water use, in LEED Platinum buildings around the world, is easily achievable because it represents good design, not magical approaches or geographically specific solutions. However, specific solutions vary, depending on climate, geography, local customs and even subsurface geology. However, it is the commitment of owners, designers and builders to achieving ‘best in class’ results that set the best green building projects apart. In this respect, it is the design process itself that is one of the key determinants of results. Some projects have “Starchitects” in charge, while others were done by nonprofits, government agencies, political parties or even academic departments. But they all “began with the end in mind.” Specifically, they set attainable goals for a high level of overall green performance with low energy and water use. Most surprisingly, high-performance green design uses about the same energy everywhere in the world, from Northern Europe to the tropics. This is logical if you think about it: a good building envelope helps insulate the building from the outdoors; in addition, in most modern buildings, lighting and plug/process loads constitute half the energy demand, independent of climate. Add in fans for ventilation, garage lighting, elevators, etc., and there isn’t much left for heating and cooling. So in Helsinki, we heat and don’t worry about cooling; in Singapore, we cool and don’t worry about heating. It all balances out. Finally, we don’t want to forget the extra excitement generated by great green buildings because they are just as beautiful, if not more so, than ordinary buildings. After all, shouldn’t beauty itself be our first goal in sustainable design? Beautiful buildings are likely to be cherished for a longer time than generic “plain vanilla” buildings; and ultimately, longevity is the most sustainable attribute.
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