Green Design

LEED Certified, AERC is on top of the latest in sustainable resources and how it fits into todays building code.

AERC Infrared Thermography & Integrated Building Analysis Services

Would you like to know if your existing building is:

    1. Energy Efficient and if not, where and why?
    2. Losing value due to Deferred Maintenance items?
    3. Being damaged by hidden roof, window and wall leaks?
    4. Losing costly conditioned air through the building envelope?

If so, AERC has developed a systematic Integrated Building Analysis (IBA) using our infrared thermography equipment and systematic evaluation methodology to identify these and other building problems.  Our IBA focuses on the Economics of your building, including Current Value, Replacement Value, Repair Costs, Maintenance Costs/Savings and Operational and Energy Costs/Savings.

For more detailed information, Contact Doug Thornton, AIA, LEED-AP BD+C @ 901.606.2085 or call our office @ 662.298.0057 and ask for Paul Wardlaw or Bob Ginn.

What Does "Green Design" Mean?

In short, 'Green' or 'Sustainable' Design takes a wholistic approach to the building design in an effort to reduce the building's impact on our natural resources, community infrastructure, environment, energy use and occupant health.

Our society in general, and the construction industry specifically, has become extremely wasteful in our use of resources, building systems and construction processes.  Green Building attempts to reverse these bad habits for the benefit of not only future generations, but for the current building owners and occupants as well.

To be most effective, the Green Design process should be implemented from the very beginning, and should include all of the building stake-holders:  Owner, architect, engineers, contractors and end-users, when feasible.  This Integrated Design approach allows the building to be designed for maximum effectiveness, efficiency and comfort.

For example, the whole project team can explore various building envelope design options with varying degrees of insulation and weigh the costs of these options against the costs saved by reduced air-conditioning tonnage and also the impact to end-user comfort and overall construction schedule to determine the absolute best, and most cost-effective, design solution.

See some of our other articles for more specific information on 'Green Design' and how to achieve it.

What Are Some Specific 'Green Design' Elements?

The following identifies some specific design and construction elements that can help make a building 'Green:"
Control site pollution during construction

  • Select a building site that is environmentally friendly, close to public transportation or within walking distance of other related uses
  • Provide for alternative means of transportation, such as bicycling and fuel-efficient vehicles
  • Protect and restore natural habitat
  • Reduce the quantity and contorl the quality of stormwater runoff
  • Minimize the heat-island effect
  • Reduce light pollution 
  • Use water-efficient landscaping
  • Capture rainwater for irrigation and/or grey-water use
  • Minimize building water use
  • Have the building systems Commissioned by an independent agency
  • Optimize the buiding's energy performance
  • Use on-site renewable energy such as solar heating, photovoltaics or wind-generated power
  • Use only optimized environmentally-friendly refrigerants
  • Purchase a Green Power energy contract with your local utility company
  • Store and collect recyclable materials during construction and after occupancy
  • Reuse as much of an existing building as possible
  • Reduce construction waste and/or divert construction waste to other uses rather than sending it to a landfill
  • Use products with recycled content
  • Use products that can be extracted, processed and manufactured locally
  • Use rapidly renewable products, such as bamboo or cork
  • Use wood that is certified as planted, grown, harvested and processed using sustainable practices
  • Protect and keep the indoor air quality clean during construction
  • Control or disallow tobacco smoke in the building
  • Use systems that ensure fresh, clean and healthy indoor air
  • Enforce construction management practices to ensure healthy indoor air quality
  • Use low-emitting adhesives, sealants, paints, coatings and carpet systems
  • Control and/or limit indoor chemical and pollutant sources
  • Use air-conditioning and lighting control systems that allow individual users to control their specific workspace environment
  • Provide daylight and views to most, if not all, workspaces
  • Use a LEED Accredited Professional

How Does Cost Compare To Traditional Construction?

Based on our experience, and data in recent publications, the additional up-front cost or Green Premium, is continuing to decline due to increasing acceptance, market-driven competition and advances in both technologies and product development.  It has been reported, and it is my perception, that a basic-level green building can be built for the same cost as a comparable minimum-code-compliant building.  This reduction in the up-front green premium is really just the 'icing on the cake.'

Most well-designed, green buildings will out-perform a comparable minimum-code-compliant building in terms of function, comfort and economics, over a 20-year life-cycle.  Realizing our fast-paced society does not build, or plan, for the long-term, why would someone want to spend 5%, 10% or even 15% more for a green building in the hopes of a long-term return on investment?  There are several compelling economic reasons:

  • Operating costs are lower from day one.
  • Maintenance costs are lower.  This includes things like inexpensive items like cleaning and  painting and also big-ticket items like expensive mechanical system repairs and material replacements.
  • Green buildings have been proven to help increase the productivity of those using it.  I was a skeptic of this claim, until we moved into our LEED Gold Certified office.  It is the most comfortable and work-conducive building I have ever worked in.  We are much more focused on our work because we are not thinking about an uncomfortable temperature, lighting or air-quality condition.  Because staffing costs are so high, a small gain in productivity can reap huge rewards.  For example, our annual staffing costs are almost equal to our initial capital building cost, so a small productivity gain of about 10% will pay for the entire building first cost in about 11 years.
  • Green buildings generally have a higher assessed value due to high-quality materials and systems.  This sometimes requires some discussion and explanation with your financing agent and appraiser, but there is a lot of quality data availalbe to make this case.  (See 'Hq' Magazine, Winter 2009 - for one example.)
  • Green buildings have also proven to have higher rent-rates than comparable lease spaces.
  • Green buildings help reduce, or at least maintain, the local community's infrastructure costs, such as roads, utility lines and utility demands.  This helps keep these costs from continuing to escalate.
  • Green buildings use less water and reduce demands on the local storm water system.  Therefore, water and sewer costs are less, and the local government can reduce expenditures for storm water control.
  • When ideally sited, green buildings benefit other local businesses by increasing business activity due to connections to mass transit or by being within walking distance.  This can also have a reciprocal effect, depending on the green building's use.
  • It is much more profitable to build a quality, 50-year life-cycle building than to build the most-economical building, then demolish it at the end of its useable life-cycle and build again.  This is applicable if the developer builds and sells in a few years, or holds the property for a life time.

So Why Should My Next Building Be Green?

There several compelling reasons your next building should be designed and built using sustainable methods, some practical, some philosophical and some financial:

Practical Reasons:

  • Green buildings are healthier.
  • Green builldings last longer.
  • Green buildings help reduce demands on local infrastructure.
  • Green buildings require less maintenance.
  • Green buildings are more comfortable.

Philosophical Reasons

  • You can do your part to improve the local & global environment.
  • You can do your part to reduce your carbon footprint.
  • You can do your part to slow global warming.
  • You can do your part to restore natural habitat.
  • You can do your part to minimize pollution.
  • You can do your part to mimimize community water use.
  • You can do your part to provide healthy buildings that will last for future generations.

Financial Reasons:

  • Green buildings cost less to operate.
  • Green buildings contribute to worker productivity.
  • Green buildings are worth more.
  • Green buildings can rent for more.
  • Green 'premiums' can be re-couped with energy savings.
  • Green buildings hold their value longer over time.
  • Green buildings cost less to maintain.

These are just a few of the reasons we have seen, or has been proven through large amounts of data research.  If you have some reasons you think we need to add to our list, send us an e-mail and we will post your contribution.

Our Green Journey

Learn more about our journey into green building design and construction

The Full Story

We photographed each step along the way. Take a look and see where we've been.

Visit the photo gallery »

News Coverage

Our green building design has captured the attention of the local news outlets. Take a minute to see for yourself.

View news coverage videos and articles »

LEED Gold Certification

Our Office has achieved LEED Gold Certification.

Learn more about how we became LEED Gold Certified »