When Energy Efficient Buildings are Truly Efficient



It has always been interesting to me that buildings are given their energy-efficiency rating in the US before they even go into use. As an electrician in Toronto, I know that a building’s potential for being energy-efficient doesn’t mean that the way a building is actually being used is as eco-friendly. There are usually multiple missed opportunities when a building is designed as eco-friendly but its inhabitants don’t follow through.

Thankfully, this article in Fast Co.Design shows what can happen when beautiful design meets sustainability in practice. Shaunacy Ferro tells us the story – and shares our enthusiasm:

“Hooray, an energy-efficient building that lives up to its eco-dreams! In 2012, a federal warehouse was redeveloped into a district headquarters for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Seattle. As part of the General Service Administration’s Design Excellence Program, the designers, ZGF Architects, were pushed to transform the 209,000-square-foot building into an aggressively energy-efficient and sustainable model known as Federal Center South Building 1202.

One of the pitfalls in measuring the true value of energy-efficient architecture is that buildings in the U.S. are ordained Platinum-worthy before the doors so much as open. Eco-friendly designs don’t always live up to their promise, and they’re rarely evaluated after the construction phase, so it’s difficult to tell if they run as efficiently as planned. In this case, a post-occupancy study shows that sustainable design elements in Building 1202 seem to have worked. The new building, which is oriented to take advantage of natural light and uses glazing and shading to avoid overheating, saved 40% in energy over a comparable building. The structure also features underfloor air circulation and a thermal storage tank containing phase-change material that stockpiles energy for later use.

In fact, the entire campus of Federal Center South where Building 1202 is located reduced its energy use by 40% between 2011 and 2013. The amount of energy saved by the whole campus would be the equivalent of what 311 Seattle homes would normally use in a year. Oh, and with reclaimed timber interiors and tree-filled atriums, it’s pretty, too.”

– See more photos of the Federal Center South’s Building 1202

One of our on-going goals at Signature Electric is helping our clients identify how their homes or buildings can function more energy efficiently.

Please contact us if you would like us to come and do an evaluation of electricity improvements you can do to make your building more energy efficient.

Picture from: Fastcompany.com