Site Issues

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Renovate older buildings
  • Conscientiously renovating existing buildings is the most sustainable construction.
Create Community
  • Development patterns can either inhibit or contribute to the establishment of strong communities and neighborhoods. Creation of cohesive communities should be a high priority.
Encourage in-fill and mixed-use development
  • In-fill development that increases density is inherently better than building on undeveloped (greenfield) sites.
  • Mixed-use development, in which residential and commercial uses are intermingled, can reduce automobile use and help to create healthy communities.
Minimize automobile dependence
  • Locate buildings to provide access to public transportation, bicycle paths, and walking access to basic services.
  • Commuting can also be reduced by working at home.
  • Consider home office needs with layout and wiring.
Value site resources
  • Early in the siting process carry out a careful site evaluation: solar access, soils, vegetation, important natural areas, etc.
  • Let this information guide the design.
Locate buildings to minimize environmental impact
  • Cluster buildings or build attached units to preserve open space and wildlife habitats, avoid especially sensitive areas including wetlands, and keep roads and service lines short.
  • Leave the most pristine areas untouched, and look for areas that have been previously damaged to build on.
  • Seek to restore damaged ecosystems.
Provide responsible on-site water management
  • Design landscapes to absorb rainwater runoff (stormwater) rather than having to carry it off-site in storm sewers.
  • In arid areas, rooftop water catchment systems should be considered for collecting rainwater and using it for landscape irrigation.
Situate buildings to benefit existing vegetation
  • Trees on the east and west sides of a building can dramatically reduce cooling loads.
  • Hedge rows and shrubbery can block cold winter winds or help channel cool summer breezes into the building.


Content from Environmental Building News. Used with permission.
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