Green Building Resources for Architects and Designers

Making the Case for Green Building



Green building is about moving beyond simply protecting people's physical safety while serving a programmatic purpose, and considering how buildings and places can promote better quality of life. By designing healthy spaces with high-quality indoor environments that encourage active lifestyles and that reduce negative environmental impacts, architects and designers can go beyond "doing no harm" and work to improve the quality of life for current occupants and future generations.  


Clients that see themselves as leaders in their community are motivated to express the values on which their business or lives are built. Green building represents an opportunity for clients to be seen as leaders protecting and promoting quality of life while reducing negative environmental impacts. As the market shifts toward emulation of these leaders, the overall quality of building and resulting quality of life is raised.


Environmental stewardship includes both the preservation of natural resources and scenic beauty and the reduction of energy, water, and material waste. A number of challenges confront our society from the broad risks of climate change to the local impacts of poor stormwater management. Green building helps address this range of challenges and considers how humans and their built environment are part of a larger ecosystem rather than exist in opposition to it. 

Fiscal Responsibility

Buildings are one of the most significant capital investments individuals, businesses, and institutions make. Studies have shown that investments in energy, water, and material efficiency, as well as occupant productivity are some of the best investments that can be made. The US Department of Defense found that their adjusted rate of return on investment (ARROI) on the marginal costs to achieve LEED certification above that of conventional construction was "approximately 3% to 17%, which is 1.5 to 8 times higher than the current investment returns" (see the report here) while another study conducted in Washington D.C. found similar returns for energy efficient construction, but even higher returns, approximately 30%, on Net Zero Energy and Living Building Challenge certified construction. (NBI study here)

You can use this calculator or similar ones to help communicate net present value and return on investment for specific strategies or green building as a whole.



Green Building in Practice


AIA Sustainability Leadership Opportunity Scan

Sustainability Leadership Opportunity Scan: American Institute of Architects report on how architects can and should integrate sustainable design into their practice and speak out in the community on emerging related issues. The Scan presents four primary topics. Materials and Energy should be an integral part of every architectural practice. Health and Resilience are emerging issues in sustainable design that are opportunities for architects to be leaders in the community, and architects should work to incorporate these issues into their design approach. 


Energy Modeling

Download The AIA Energy Modeling Practice Guide: A guide published by the American Institute of Architects to help architects incorporate energy modeling into their design and project delivery process.


2030 Commitment

Join the AIA's 2030 Commitment to help firms evaluate the impact design decisions have on an individual project's energy performance. The reporting platform is about to take a quantum leap forward. It will be web-based, integrated with Energy Star Portfolio Manager and the Department of Energy, and can compare both designed and actual building performance to similar use/scale buildings in the project's area.

New Building Institute Zero Net Energy Communication Toolkit

This is a great resource from NBI to help make presentations, communicate with your client effectively, and provide case studies for zero net energy buildings. Also see our NextGen Designs and other net zero energy case studies.


Make this page better!

Are you a Chattanooga-based architect looking for a resource to help you either integrate or communicate sustainability/green building and can't find it here? Please leave us a note and let us know what you're looking for. If you have a resource that you use frequently and don't see listed anywhere let us know about that too!

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