Sustainable buildings


The industry’s growing sustainability ethic is based on the principles of resource efficiency, health, and productivity. Realization of these principles involves an integrated, multidisciplinary, approach. One in which a building project and its components are viewed on a full life-cycle basis.

This cradle-to-cradle approach, known as green or sustainable building, considers a building’s total economic and environmental impact and performance. This covers:

Ultimately, adoption of sustainable building practices will lead to a shift in the building industry, with sustainability thoroughly embedded in its practice, products, standards, codes, and regulations.

Buildings significantly alter the environment

According to Worldwatch Institute, building construction consumes 40 percent of the raw stone, gravel, and sand used globally each year, and 25 percent of the virgin wood.

Buildings also account for 40 percent of the energy and 16 percent of the water used annually worldwide.


Building construction and operation have an enormous direct and indirect impact on the environment.

Sustainability - p01

Source: Levin, H. (1997) Systematic Evaluation and Assessment of Building Environmental Performance (SEABEP), paper for presentation to Buildings and Environment, Paris, 9-12 June, 1997.

As illustrated in the diagram, buildings not only use resources such as energy and raw materials, they also generate waste and potentially harmful atmospheric emissions.

As economy and population continue to expand, designers and builders face a unique challenge to meet demands for new and renovated facilities that are accessible, secure, healthy, and productive while minimizing their impact on the environment.

Main objectives

The main objectives of sustainable design are to:


While the definition of what constitutes sustainable building design is constantly changing, there are six fundamental principles that nearly everyone agrees on.

Optimise Site Potential

Creating sustainable buildings starts with proper site selection. This includes:

Sitting for physical security has become a critical issue in optimising site design. The location of access roads, parking, vehicle barriers, and perimeter lighting must be integrated into the design along with sustainable site considerations. Site design for security cannot be an afterthought. Along with site design for sustainability, it must be addressed in the preliminary design phase to achieve a successful project.

Optimise Energy Use


It is essential to find ways to:

This particularly applies to Government facilities as a leading by example and proof of concept approach.

Protect and Conserve Water

In many parts, fresh water is an increasingly scarce resource.

A sustainable building should:

Use Environmentally Preferable Products

A sustainable building should be constructed of materials that minimize life-cycle environmental impacts such as:

These environmentally preferable materials to be products or services that have a lesser or reduced effect on human health and the environment when compared with competing products or services that serve the same purpose.

As such, they contribute to:

Enhance Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ)

The indoor environmental quality (IEQ) of a building has a significant impact on occupant health, comfort, and productivity.

Among other attributes, a sustainable building should maximize day lighting; have appropriate ventilation and moisture control; and avoid the use of materials with high-VOC emissions.

Additional consideration must now be given to ventilation and filtration to mitigate against chemical, biological, and radiological attack.

Optimise Operational and Maintenance Practices

Incorporating operating and maintenance considerations into the design of a facility will greatly contribute to:

Designers are encouraged to specify materials and systems that:

Davmark™ approach

Davmark™ follows the sustainable design approach. Particular emphasis is placed on intelligent control systems. This achieved by involving key system designers and integrators into the early formative stages of the project. By doing this the information gathering and matrix reporting, that will be needed, becomes a natural side product of the systems. Correct components are specified, and systems work together properly. Another benefit is the client gets to understand, and has a say in, how to operate their building.

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