The ever-changing term “sustainability” is used often in this modern era, as the importance of maintaining a balanced environment economically and socially is a topic that is top of mind for many. When applied to engineering, sustainable design focuses on material usage, land usage, and energy efficiency in order to minimize a building’s environmental impact, while increasing its lifespan.
BHB’s engineers work on hundreds of projects annually, each with their own set of parameters and standards on how they are to be constructed. Even in their varying size, scope, and budget, it is important to think about the impact each project will have on the environment today, tomorrow, and 50 years from now. Across all disciplines, BHB shares the concern regarding the depletion of the earth’s natural resources, and the role the building construction industry can play in energy use reduction and material conservation. Our engineers are experienced in designing sustainable systems for buildings and building sites that can help reduce the impact construction makes on our environment.
Depending on the project, there are codes and regulations in place for engineers for sustainable design. While some are required depending on the municipality, such as the Dallas Green Building Code, others are optional and pertain to clients interested in minimizing their environmental impact for a building’s lifespan of 50-70 years.
The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), for example, has its own green building rating system. LEED®, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, has specific criteria in place that need to be met in order for a building to be considered LEED certified. Just some of the different stipulations include air quality standards, renewable energy use, recycled building materials, occupant comfort, and more. While this rating is not a requirement and calls for a larger cost upfront, owners that will have a building for 50+ years (such as hotels, hospitals, and universities) will often seek this certification because they will be paid back in energy savings over the entire life of a building. However, while sustainable buildings can sometimes mean spending more out of pocket, that isn’t always the case.
Allen Grammer, Project Manager and Mechanical Engineer at BHB, has designed a variety of sustainable buildings during his six years at the firm.
“Owners can be sustainable without the cost. There are pragmatic energy saving options that end up saving money over the life of the building,” said Allen. “As an engineer, it is always a goal to reduce the amount of construction materials and construction budget, while having confidence that I am providing an environment that people will enjoy.”
BHB has provided sustainable engineering design for a wide variety of projects, including:
- TCU Mary Couts Burnett Library – LEED Silver
- TCU Annie Richardson Bass Building – LEED Silver
- City of Grand Prairie Fire Rescue No. 7 Lake Parks Facility – LEED Silver
- Tarrant County Sub-Courthouse – LEED Silver (First building in Arlington to achieve LEED certification)
- Keller ISD Timberview Middle School – LEED Silver
- Tarrant Regional Water Annex – LEED Gold
- 714 Main
- Star-Telegram Building
- Fort Worth Public Health Building
- Fort Worth Ella Shamblee Library
- The Sinclair
- La Quinta Hotel – Lakeway
- Texas Wesleyan Martin Student Center
“Energy efficient designs are the most enjoyable to work with” said Allen. “They require extensive problem solving, but once complete, they are projects to be proud of and will benefit our communities in the future.”
At BHB, we strive to be energy conscious. We work with clients based on their sustainability needs so that they have an experience they like and are happy with, while still being as energy efficient as possible. For more information about sustainable design and how we can help you on your next project, contact us at email@example.com.