Sustainable building design and construction framework

The sustainable building design has three main goals referring to what are called the 3Ps (People, Planet, Pocketbook). These three goals are, first, to reduce the consumption of natural resources such as water, energy, raw materials and to prevent environmental deterioration caused by the construction process.

A wooden residential building

Second, to provide a comfortable, easy, safe and productive building environment for the users. Third, to optimize the mass of economy spent in the building industry. Achieving these goals must go through a win-win creative design and construction solutions. One of these solutions is choosing a technology instead of doing the traditional manual work on site. PlanRadar provides a smart choice for documentation and defect management in the construction field work step by step. In this way, you can achieve a fully enduring building design operation.

Six major sustainable building design principles

The sustainable conceptual framework is basically a product of technology and environmental awareness over the past few years. It was found that buildings use resources and generate waste as any living organism does. The enduring concept wants to stop this parasitic cycle by making the buildings more productive and livable. Energy efficiency wants to reduce the use of resources in the construction and maintenance of buildings. The following are the six sustainable building design principles according to Whole Building Design Guide(WBDG).

  1. Site potential optimization

Constructing an enduring project is not just about creating a building. Sustainable design starts from the site selection, including the location, orientation, landscape, parking areas. These parameters affect the local ecosystem and energy consumption. Site and building design must be complementary to reach a successful project.

  1. Energy use optimization

The term sustainability has basically originated as a solution for the national demand for energy independence and the climate change problem. Operating net-zero energy buildings is one of these solutions. The main aim of these buildings is to reduce the dependence on fossil fuel resources. Improving the energy performance of the existing buildings can play a big role in the energy consumption crisis as well. New buildings have a high opportunity to contribute living space to an energy efficient environment.

  1. Water Conservation

The United States is facing an increasingly freshwater scarce resource problem nowadays. Sustainable building should seek minimization of the constructed ground layers that affect the freshwater stock.  Since the buildings change the ecological and hydrological function of the non-built land and its underground water. An enduring new building should use water efficiently and allow the recycle of in-site water, when feasible. In addition, waste water treatments become more and more efficient and try to forgo chemical processes.

  1. Natural materials improvement

Consumption of natural resources is increasing in parallel with the rapid increase in the world’s population. It has become a critical issue to achieve an integrated and intelligent use of materials. A sustainable building is designed to reduce the use of these raw materials and resources. The materials used in the sustainable building should minimize the environmental impact ofglobal warming, resources depletion, and toxicity.

  1. Indoor environmental quality enhancement

The indoor environmental quality of a building has a significant impact on occupant health, comfort, and productivity. Sustainable building is designed to maximize daylighting, has appropriate natural ventilation and moisture control, optimizes acoustic performance, and avoids the use of materials with high-VOC emissions.

  1. Operational and maintenance practices optimization

Sustainable building’s architects and designers can specify materials and systems that scale down maintenance requirements, require less energy, water, toxins, and cleaners. These maintenance issues will provide a healthier environment and reduce life-cycle costs. Planning for the building’s operating and maintenance system during the draft phase will improve the working environment, productivity and will prevent system failure.

Building owners, designers, and contractors, each face unique challenges to meet demands for new and renovated or sustainable design facilities. These green buildings provide the basic requirements of sustainability as being accessible, secure, healthy and productive while minimizing any negative impacts on society, the environment, and the economy.

While trying to establish a vision for a new sustainable building you have to involve all the project parties because it’s not a one-man operation. You will find yourself putting strict guidelines for every design phase in the construction procedures to reach the optimum output.  PlanRadar is a choice of technology for the building industry nowadays. It provides a common land for effective communication between all the project members and eases these daily construction challenges.

Sustainable building design life cycle

Survey of Sustainable Building Design Practices in North America, Europe, and Asia was done by Kimberly R. Bunz who works in the mechanical engineering field and Gregor P. Henze, P.E.; and Dale K. Tiller who are both associate professors in architectural engineering field at the University of Nebraska Lincoln. This cooperation of researchers wanted to compare and contrast enduring design programs based on the life cycle of a building in North America, Europe, and Asia. The study showed that a sustainable building project passes with the following phases to form the complete life cycle. Moreover, it recommended some specific guidelines of sustainability for each step according to certain green guides.

Programming Phase

The programming phase of a building project as it relates to sustainable building design involves the following steps in sequence:

  • Initial predesign meetings with the owner
  • Analysis of similar projects with sustainable features
  • Preliminary ideas and sustainable design features implemented in the project
  • Formation of a design team involved in the sustainable design process
  • Definition of initial goals for the performance of a sustainable building throughout the planning process.


Design Phase

The design phase is the comprehensively addressed portion of the lifecycle in most sustainable building guidelines and evaluation methods. The spotlights of the design phase related to sustainable design are energy efficiency, water efficiency, indoor environment, field location, material usage, and atmospheric considerations. Many sustainable building guides and measurement programs deem a sustainable building as one that provides additional energy savings over minimum local requirements.

Building Construction

The building construction phase of the sustainable building lifecycle covers most of the sustainable practices that are employed during the actual construction process of a building. These sustainable practices that will be evaluated and compared to the construction process are:

  • Waste management during the process
  • Transportation of building materials
  • The impact of the construction process on the field and surrounding disturbances.


Site work in construction is known to always be chaotic, you can’t control each step, or you will need one supervisor for every worker in order to assure the quality and sustainability targets. PlanRadar minimizes the need for any unnecessary labor, you can save and document everything you noticed on the field by the push of a button.

Building Operation

Building operation in the lifecycle of a sustainable building involves the operation, maintenance, and control of the building systems. These procedures are mostly done to maintain the sustainable levels for which they were originally designed. As a facility manager softwarePlanRadar can play the manager role through these procedures as it is a safer method of using resources throughout the building process and this is the first step to start implement sustainability on the work site.

Building Demolition

The final phase of the lifecycle of a building is demolition. Sustainable design in this area focuses on recycling and waste management procedures to handle the material waste generated during demolition activities and on the design of building assemblies and systems to facilitate removal during demolition.

To say whether a building is following sustainable principles or not you have to use and go through an evaluation approach for sustainability levels. These approaches now differ from one country to another but the most popular one so far is the LEED  “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design “evaluation method. The upcoming will show the known green guides in the United States and how they work.

Sustainable building design green guides in the United States

In the United States, there are two major sustainable building design initiatives the first is LEED, green building rating system; and the second is the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers ASHRAE Green Guide.

leed logo
The LEED rating system was established by the United States Green Building Council as a voluntary rating system to evaluate the environmental performance of a building over the entire process. The building is evaluated over five environmental categories:

  • Sustainable sites
  • Water efficiency
  • Energy and atmosphere
  • Indoor environmental quality
  • Materials and resources


Credits are awarded for satisfying various criteria in the five environmental categories, and different levels of certification can be obtained based on the number of points earned from each credit. The levels of certification a building can receive is based on a number of points acquired through the United States Green Building Council USGBC LEED Reference Package Version 2.0 USGBC 2001:

  • Certified= 26– 32 points
  • Silver= 33– 38 points
  • Gold= 39– 51 points
  • Platinum= 52 or more points


The LEED program currently has pilot certification programs for existing building operations, commercial interiors or tenant fit-out projects, and building core and shell projects. The development of a LEED home certification program is also underway. However, to achieve different levels of certification you will need to have a detailed organized multi-task companion through all the project. PlanRadar follow up the project workflow step by step and allow you to document every single defect in time this will help you to avoid many anticipated events.

ASHRAE Green Guide.

The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers ASHRAE developed the ASHRAE Green Guide. This guide was developed to be used as a reference throughout the enduring design process. The ASHRAE guide includes chapters covering the early design process, practical engineering suggestions for implementation into green design, and post design suggestions and tips. The practical engineering suggestions portion of the guide provides engineering design information and tips on how engineers can design systems that can be considered sustainable Grumman 2003. The guidelines and recommendations provided by the ASHRAE Green Guide are purely voluntary in nature and are intended to provide assistance in sustainable building design.

Technological advancements on sustainability design

Enduring design has been known to be more expensive than the traditional building methods in the construction industry for years. But recent technological advancements provided the market with a more cost-effective way to the sustainable building. According to recent research, the cost to build a sustainable LEED-certified building is associated with approximately a 1% increase in initial costs at a minimum and 11.5% increase at maximum. The additional costs have become valueless considering the profit of having a full economic and environmentally sustainable building.

In addition to the profit of reducing the impact on the environment and decreasing costs over a building’s lifecycle, enduring building design also improves worker productivity and job satisfaction due to healthier working environments.

How can PlanRadar help you through your sustainable building design process?

While current sustainability strategies and initiatives focus on high global aspects and strategic objectives, they omitted the micro level, considering the project details level decision making. This is a result of the complex operations throughout the construction process. Designers and contractor’s daily duties can’t reach an end. PlanRadar now simplifies the interfered roles and duties and helps you to achieve a faster working flow by saving up to a 40% decrease in costs and 7 working hours per week. To date, quality assurance was often difficult with plan inconsistencies and information gaps prevailing between internal and external project teams. Inefficient data recording and defect management, using digital cameras, voice recorders and analog notes on plans often resulted in a confusing flood of information. This information was communicated and documented via different channels resulting in various versions of documents and in the worst case, the loss of information. With PlanRadar, these scenarios are finally a thing of the past. Try it now and take advantage of  30 days free of charge!