How Good Design Pays

UnknownThe 16th annual Municipal Green Building Conference and Expo hosted by U.S Green Building Council Los Angeles Chapter will take place on April 20th in an effort to connect cities through “economic, environmental and equity solutions.

As part of the program one of the panel discussions will tackle the subject: “Understanding Savings By Design Through the Eyes of Four Architects.”  Savings By design (SBD) is a statewide energy efficiency program specifically aimed to design teams. It is the only energy efficiency program that provides cash incentives to design and owner and has proved to be an effective program in supporting California’s long- term energy goal. Served as a transition tool before the next energy code, SBD is aligned with T24 energy code, promotes integrated design on energy, and sustainability design.


We asked several of the speakers to answer one question: “What is one way that good design can save money?”


nathaniel wilsonGood design that is sustainable and resilient and which provides for future adaptive reuse saves money over the life of the building.  All Buildings are predictions. All predictions are wrong.  Even in the best case the design and construction process takes four years, so the original program requirements provided the A/E at the start of design are already a bit aged when the new building is opened.  Good design can save money by anticipating future building changes.  In 20, 40 and/or 60 years the brand new building of today will need to be adapted to new program requirements.  Changes in the cost of utilities and new technology may require other changes to building systems.  Stuart Brand published a book in 1994 called How Buildings Learn. This is a great primer regarding ways that good design can anticipate future adaptive reuse needs.” —Nathaniel Wilson, AIA, AICP, Campus Architect/Environmental Planner


sara neffOne way good design can save money is by taking solar orientation into consideration. Buildings oriented to minimize solar heat gain dramatically reduce their cooling requirements from the get-go and provide a more comfortable indoor environment for their occupants. —Sara Neff, MBA, LEED AP (BD+C, ID+C, ND, EB: O&M), WELL AP, Senior Vice President, Sustainability, Kilroy Realty Corporation



todd lynchGood design increases value, which I believe is a more comprehensive way to think about savings. It’s not just a matter of what you don’t have to spend today—it’s about deploying resources wisely for a better long-term outcome. Elegant design achieves maximum benefit through optimal means, be it purposeful simplicity and efficiency, or the inclusion of non-utilitarian enhancements that can elevate a basic function.  The delight that good design can produce is intangible, but also priceless.

While good design does require more substantial upfront investments of time, thought, or capital, it goes on to produce lasting savings in materials, energy, maintenance, and expense. Though effective natural cooling takes more careful architectural thought than would sizing a mechanical unit from a catalog, the resulting building can provide comfort at a fraction of the lifetime cost in equipment, fuel, maintenance, and emissions.

Market forces can make it costly to dedicate the time and effort early in the process when it is most effective. The incentives and design assistance through the Savings by Design program have made a big difference for UCLA projects in this regard, as we plan to save energy and work toward a carbon neutral future. —Todd Lynch, Principal Project Manager, UCLA Capital Programs


eric brossy de diosGood design grasps the essential nature of the project’s function and responds thoughtfully to the context of forces that shape it. By tailoring the design solution to the complexities at hand, efficiency, durability, flexibility and responsiveness can be gained over the life of building. In large buildings, balancing efficient planning and building enclosure can, for example, both optimize staff movement and building energy use. Operational, system replacement and human resource savings gained over many years far outweigh the investment in the design that made them possible. —Eric Brossy de Dios, LEED AP BD+D, ALEP, Senior Associate, Perkins+Will



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