5 Low Cost Sustainable Design Ideas

Association of Construction and Development
January 11, 2013 — 2,359 views  

There is growing evidence that sustainable buildings are providing building operators, owners, and occupants with financial rewards. Such buildings are low on annual costs for water, energy, maintenance, repair, and other expenses. The reduced costs must never be achieved by spending more on the first costs which include the expenses involved in implementing the sustainable ideas. The first costs must always be lower than or the same as that of a traditional building with innovative use and integrated design of sustainable equipment and materials.

Benefits of low cost Sustainable Design

Having buildings of  low cost design involve higher first costs, but the payback time for the investment is often short and the cost of lifecycle is usually less than the cost of traditional buildings. Sustainable designs, in addition to cost savings, can indirectly provide economic benefits to the society and the owner of the building. For instance, sustainable building designs can result in better comfort, health, productivity, and well-being of the occupants.

Such buildings also offer economic benefits such as longer lifetimes of the building, lower risks, ability to bring new employees, and reduced costs in dealing with consumer complaints.

Ideas on how to proceed for low cost Sustainable Design

At first, a design team should be formed that includes owners, engineers, architects, landscape designers, consultants for sustainable design, health and safety staff, contractors, and occupant representatives. This team must work together from the scratch and look for an integrated design.

This team makes innovative solutions to meet environmental, energy, and social goals by keeping costs within the budget.

The design team can use some construction and design strategies to reduce initial costs:

  • Optimize orientation and site
  • Renovate or re-use old buildings
  • Bring down the project size
  • Cut down unnecessary features and finishes
  • Avoid construction waste and structural overdesign
  • Explore the integrated design, including optimization of the energy system
  • Use waste management construction approaches
  • Lower the site infrastructure

In addition to the strategies above, certain fixtures and materials help reduce the impact on environment and result in lowered initial costs and better designs. Below are five ideas that can reduce building and maintenance costs:

1. Mixing cement and slag (waste from the furnaces) produced in iron mills not only gives the building good strength, but also provides it with better durability and look.

2. Buildings must be designed with areas for convenient and efficient collection of materials that can be recycled, such as plastic, paper, and glass. These materials can help reduce annual waste disposal costs.

3. Usage of fluorescent lamps to design houses also reduces labor costs in maintenance. These lamps last for about 10,000 hours as against 1,000 hours with normal incandescent lamps. About 10 lamp changes are avoided if fluorescent lamps are used. This also gives the area a better illumination

4. Recycled and low-emitting paint has no or very low emissions of VOCs (Volatile organic compounds) when applied. It brings down negative reactions to the building occupants, which are often caused by the expensive latex paints. These paints also are relatively cheap.

5. It often costs less to have urinals that do not use water and instead use vacuum suction. This gives the exteriors of the building a better look and saves on water expenses.

Annual Energy cost Savings

A different variety of approaches to building design and technologies that are commercially available can help to minimize the energy costs of a building effectively. An important concept in efficient energy design is integrating the building's mechanical and architectural features to lower the use of energy and cut down costs, while maintaining comfort at the same time.

Association of Construction and Development