Prairie Ridge Ecostation

Green Building Design

In new construction projects, why is it important to consider the design of the building?

Every new project or renovation has potential to be a great place to live, work and/or play, both from a human and ecosystem perspective. Building design can save thousands of dollars on utilities over many years. By reducing energy use, water use and consumption, one can greatly reduce his or her impact on the environment.

How much energy can be saved from smart building design?

When buildings and all of their related materials (from manufacturing, delivery, construction, operation, restoration, deconstruction, etc.) are designed smarter, savings in energy, water, materials, land and air quality can be be very large.

Buildings account for 50% of the total U.S. energy consumption and the U.S. consumes 20% of the world’s energy. This means that U.S. buildings consume up to 10% of the world’s energy!  Smart building design, though sometimes initially more expensive and time consuming, can help to minimize this energy use.

Is there any form of certification or incentive for buildings that are more efficient?

Many states, including North Carolina, offer tax incentives for green buildings that adhere to established standards.

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification is the most comprehensive certification at this time, recognizing six major areas in building construction:

  • Sustainable Sites
  • Water Efficiency
  • Energy and Atmosphere
  • Materials and Resources
  • Indoor Environmental Quality
  • Innovation and Design Process

LEED, invented by the U.S. Green Building Council, seeks to establish standards for sustainable construction and to transform the building market in this direction. The system gives points for various levels of energy savings. Energy efficiency depends on the building’s internal “metabolism” (heat energy gains and losses) and the external climate conditions such as exposure to solar heat gain and high humidity.

Besides environmental gains, why should I carefully consider building siting?

Natural light has proven to be healthier for working and living environments. It stimulates the production of Vitamin D, which is essential for strengthening bones and teeth and for boosting the immune system. Natural light (or a lack thereof) has also been strongly tied to Seasonal Affective Disorder, a depression that kicks in when the days are shorter and sunlight grows scarce. More sunlight is therefore beneficial to both body and mind.

What else has Prairie Ridge done to save money and reduce energy use and resource consumption?

In addition to the many other conservation measures we’ve taken, Prairie Ridge has also installed water-saving faucets and motion sensor light switches to reduce energy use. We use compostable cups and plates and we compost these as well as leftover foods for use in our garden.