Sustainability Approach

"The best way to predict the future is to design it"

- Buckminster Fuller

We believe that sustainability in the built environment is not a luxury that can be avoided or taken lightly in the design of any Project.  Sustainability is an unavoidable necessity which forms an essential part of every design and should be treated with utmost care and respect and responsibility.

 

In our experience, we have seen that sustainable design does not have to have a large cost implication, as energy efficiency can be implemented from a basic prudent approach, applying “back to basics” principles of good design.  Sustainability can be upgraded from good energy efficient design, all the way up using “state of the art” cutting edge technologies, to make best use of various renewable energies.

Goals of Sustainable Design:

Reduce and ultimately eliminate the impacts of buildings on the environment and human health. 

 

At Hofman Architects we have educated ourselves to be experts in responsible sustainable design.  We believe that every Project – no matter how big or small – will benefit from well considered sustainable design principles – providing obvious benefits to all the users of the building in the short term – to the owners of the building in the medium term – with obvious benefit to the overall environment and the planet in the long term.

Holistic Design:

We believe in a process of Holistic Design, going beyond general best practice, to give our Clients the best information to consider all the options in order to make informed decisions on sustainability of the Project going forward.

  

At the basic level of responsible sustainable design, the following passive systems can be implemented without any additional cost to the Project:

  • Siting & orientation:

    • Solar heat gain & loss – opening sizes; shading of openings; etc.

    • Natural ventilation – cooling in summer and heating in winter

    • Landscaping – intelligent planting

  • Structure design efficiency

    • Size and layout – minimize surface area

    • Insulation – floors, walls, roof, windows & doors, etc.

    • Air sealing – window and door selection

  • Materials efficiency –

    • local & sustainably sourced materials

    • recycled & reclaimed materials

  • Operations & maintenance optimization – ensure proper use and long-term efficient running and maintenance of the equipment and sustainable systems.

  • Waste reduction:

    • recycling,

    • reuse & re - purpose materials & equipment,

    • reduce waste during construction, etc.

 

The following can be implemented at a slight additional cost to the Project:

  • Energy efficiency

    • LED lighting

    • Solar water heating

    • Choice of appliances

  • Water efficiency

    • Water saving devices

    • Rainwater harvesting

    • Water recycling – grey & black water systems

  • Efficient HVAC (Heating Ventilation & Air-conditioning)

    • ERV (Energy Recovery Ventilator)

The following can be implemented to enhance indoor environmental quality

  • reduce VOC’s – paint, glue laminates etc.

  • reduce dampness – cooking, bathrooms, etc. – natural ventilation

  • improve indoor air quality – introduction of indoor plants

The following technologies can be implemented at substantial additional cost to the Project.

  • Renewable resources:

    • PV Systems with battery back storage

    • Wind energy harvesting systems

    • Rainwater harvesting systems

    • Gray and black water recycling systems

Cost and Payoff:

Apart from the obvious long-term benefits to humanity and the planet, the initial additional input cost must be offset and evaluated against the savings after implementation of the systems.  Some obvious savings, such as savings in energy cost like electricity and water etc. are relatively easy to calculate.  Others, such as the benefits to human health and savings on health-related issues and medical bills, or higher productivity due to improved living and working conditions in the longer term, are more difficult to evaluate.

The calculation to weigh initial input cost against the long-term savings in running the and maintenance cost is called Life cycle costing.  This Life Cycle Costing will determine the Break-even Point where the additional cost is canceled out by the savings in running cost.  Knowledge of the up-front cost and accurate life cycle costing is essential to make informed decisions for the Project.

Process:

We follow the standard Professional Work Stages involved in the design, documentation and construction of a Project.  In each stage we consider the added benefit of sustainability of each choice and decision.

  • Inception:

    • New Buildings:

    • Assist with Site Selection

    • Evaluate available resources on Site

  • Existing Buildings:

    • Prepare energy audit of existing buildings

  • Concept Design:

    • Consider location, and orientation on Site

    • Propose layout and basic design of the building

  • Design Development:

    • Propose sustainable materials, finishes,

    • Consider energy efficient equipment and renewable resource systems

    • Coordinate with Specialist Suppliers

  • Documentation:

    • Coordinate services with Specialist Suppliers

  • Construction:

    • Implement Waste management program with Contractor

    • Advise on local sourcing of materials

  • Close-out:

    • Handover Documentation

    • Prepare Operation & Maintenance Manuals to ensure proper use of systems

Green Start Ratings – Building Certification:

As Green Star Building Accredited Professionals, we can manage the Green Star Certification and guide you through the process.

Rating Tools exist for New Buildings; Existing Building Performance; Interiors, Multi-unit residential,

1085 Justice Mahomed Street, Waterkloof

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PO BOX 283, Newlands, 0049

(012) 361 7078