This research focuses on the factors that impact the carbon footprint of a residence hall building, particularly the steps and considerations required to achieve carbon neutrality. Beginning with a definition of what it means to be carbon neutral, the study dispels misconceptions and stresses the importance of carbon-conscious decision making throughout the life of a project. The research explores a methodology dependent on multi-disciplinary collaboration involving the entire project team, in which all building components are continuously measured and analyzed for performance optimization. While this research provides technical and methodological insights for professionals well-versed in sustainable design principles, the study also serves to educate clients interested in the “how” and “why” of sustainable design. This study details the cause and effect of several possible interventions and provides a platform to test strategies, some regionally based and others applicable to other building types and geographical regions. The case study reveals the need for a paradigm shift in building design to reduce the carbon footprint. This paradigm shift involves viewing the building as a holistic system where different mechanical and design aspects work together finding synergies for performance efficiency. Important and impactful factors include material selection and manufacturing processes, building assembly methods, construction, indoor climate conditions, building and site design, integration of active and passive systems, clean/renewable energy generation sources and building operations and maintenance. The building user also becomes instrumental in overall carbon reductions. The effort to achieve carbon neutrality must incorporate student behavioral patterns and the potential to change the wasteful behavior through educational programs.
This article originally appeared in Vol 01.02 of the Perkins+Will Research Journal. CLICK HERE to see the whole article.