Savings by Design – Incentivized Green Building

Sean Meehan, Architect, LEED AP, ADMG

Savings by Design

The concept of sustainability in architecture has been around for quite a long time. Frank Lloyd Wright’s notion of ‘organic architecture’ advocated the use of local materials, providing adequate ventilation, and breaking down the interior-exterior barrier by maximizing daylighting and views. Even the US Green Building Council, and its LEED green building rating system, has been around for well over a decade. Sustainability remains a hot topic in the industry, and in California sustainability measures have even been mandated by the Code with the recent adoption of the California Green Building Code.

Another sustainability program unique to California is the Savings by Design program. This is a statewide energy efficiency program, tailored to non-residential projects, that is funded by the Public Purpose Program surcharges to gas and electric bills. The nice thing about Savings by Design is that it is an incentive program – both Owners and Design Teams may receive monetary incentives (yes…in the form of a check!) for their participation in the program, based on the type of energy efficiency approach employed, as well as the amount of energy savings that are realized.

Much like the Energy Performance credits in LEED, Savings by Design has two main approaches – either a whole-building energy model, or a systems/prescriptive approach. The incentives available with the whole-building approach are greater, but so too will be the design costs to the owner, and likely also the construction costs. The whole building approach needs to be implemented in the very earliest stages of design to be feasible, and makes sense for larger, more complicated projects. The systems approach is appropriate for smaller buildings, and may be incorporated later in the project, where the specification of higher efficiency building systems and envelope assemblies may satisfy the program’s requirements.

The Savings by Design program employs full time energy efficiency specialists to assist Owners and Design Teams throughout the process. For more information on the Savings by Design program, check out their website. Here you will find FAQs, program brochures and applications, as well as links, resources, and past award-winning projects that have utilized the program.

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