Designing Green: The Seen and the Unseen

Integrating components to achieve holistic performance
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Sponsored by Accurate Perforating, ARCHITECTURAL GRILLE, Benjamin Moore, EXTECH/Exterior Technologies, Inc., and ZIP System®, by Huber Engineered Woods
By Peter J. Arsenault, FAIA, NCARB, LEED AP

Learning Objectives:

  1. Identify and recognize the significance of different aspects of green and sustainable design working together to create a holistic solution.
  2. Assess the health and wellness aspects of green rating programs and ways that they can be incorporated into building designs.
  3. Explain the multiple aspects of energy conservation and efficiency in buildings that contribute to better green design.
  4. Determine ways to incorporate green and sustainable principles into selected buildings as shown in case studies.


1 GBCI CE Hour
AAA 1 Structured Learning Hour
AANB 1 Hour of Core Learning
AAPEI 1 Structured Learning Hour
MAA 1 Structured Learning Hour
NLAA 1 Hour of Core Learning
NSAA 1 Hour of Core Learning
NWTAA 1 Structured Learning Hour
OAA 1 Learning Hour
SAA 1 Hour of Core Learning
This course can be self-reported to the AIBC, as per their CE Guidelines.
This course is approved as a Structured Course
Approved for structured learning
Approved for Core Learning
This course is approved as a Core Course
Course may qualify for Learning Hours with NWTAA
Course eligible for OAA Learning Hours
This course is approved as a core course
This course can be self-reported for Learning Units to the Architectural Institute of British Columbia
This test is no longer available for credit

The movement for green and sustainable building design continues to grow and pick up steam for multiple reasons that operate totally outside the realm of politics. Building owners recognize real financial and personnel advantages with green buildings and are coming to expect that their design and construction teams have the knowledge and expertise to create energy-efficient, environmentally sensitive, and healthy buildings as part of their normal design process. Accordingly, architects and other design professionals have become better educated on how to produce and advocate for such designs, sometimes taking advantage of advanced computer software tools to help in the process. Similarly, construction professionals have developed standard practices or teamed with specialists to be sure they can provide green building work competitively. Concurrently, product manufacturers have invested heavily in finding ways to both operate in a sustainable manner and to create products that pass muster as green and sustainable too.

Photo of green and sustainable buildings

Photo courtesy of Accurate Perforating/Bret Hoekema

The successful design of green and sustainable buildings requires a holistic approach to balance different aspects of sustainability as identified by international programs and standards.

Pushing this movement along is the existence not only of energy codes and even the International Green Construction Code (IgCC), but also a number of voluntary standards and rating systems to help identify just how green or sustainable a building really is. The U.S. Green Building Councils’ LEED program is probably the best-known one, but there are others being used too. The WELL standard is recognized by LEED but focuses on the health and well-being of occupants in more categories and in greater detail. Passive House is raising the bar on energy efficiency not only for single-family residential buildings but also for multifamily construction—its fastest-growing area of certification. And the International Future Living Institute has developed the Living Building Challenge (LBC) which goes beyond “doing no harm” to being truly regenerative and contributing to a positive built environment in multiple respects. It includes 20 imperatives organized into seven “Petals,” all of which must be achieved in order to receive full LBC Certification. Separate certifications are also available for certain petals and for a net-zero energy building.

Regardless of the standard being followed, the challenge for design teams is not necessarily how to address any individual aspect of green or sustainable design, but rather, how to synthesize multiple needs into an integrated, holistic design. That can often take some trial and error attempts at different design combinations to determine an optimal balance of benefits without detracting from other sought-after characteristics. The development of different design iterations, commonly using computer modeling or simulations, has given rise to a 21st century “iterative design process.” Ideally, this process allows for several different design scenarios to be developed, first at a large scale or “massing” level, to compare the differences between them on environmental, energy, or wellness terms. Once a conceptual design is settled upon, then a more detailed analysis can take place where individual components can be studied to determine how to optimize each of them in relationship to overall design and other components. Finally, specifications for materials need to be coordinated with the design to maximize the green and sustainable qualities being sought for the materials that are used in the building.

With all of the above in mind, this course will look at several aspects of green and sustainable design, specifically with the idea of integration and optimizing design iterations, components, and specifications.


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Originally published in Architectural Record
Originally published in October 2017


Designing Green: The Seen and the Unseen
Buyer's Guide
Backlit Perforated Panels
Backlit perforated panels are excellent at making your environment more brilliant. Backlighting highlights the structure of surfaces and makes perforated panels stand out to produce a more dramatic effect. Accurate, with the collaboration of its lighting partner, can utilize many different types of backlighting to enhance your surroundings.
Accurate Perforating
Spackle In J-Frame Grilles
When your project needs a less-is-more approach to HVAC grilles, our Spackle In J-Frame Grilles offer a minimalistic design solution. These signature grilles allow for easy installation using common drywall screws and spackle/plaster to achieve a sleek and simple aesthetic finish with no visible mounting screws to detract from the overall visual design of the space.
Benjamin Moore Ultra Spec® Scuff-X®
Ultra Spec® SCUFF-X® is a revolutionary, single-component paint that resists scuffing before it starts. It is ideal for high-traffic areas in commercial spaces, such as school hallways, hospital waiting areas, hotel lobbies, offices, conference rooms, restaurants, service entrances, gym locker rooms, retail fitting rooms, cafeterias, and stairwells.
TECHVENT 5300 Top-Hinged Industrial Window System
The TECHVENT 5300 by EXTECH is a patented top-hinged window system that can be left open during normal rainfall. It provides massive natural lighting and ventilation and is great for new construction or retrofits. It can be operated either manually or electrically and can be installed as single units or in continuous runs.
EXTECH/Exterior Technologies Inc.
ZIP System® R-sheathing
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ZIP System® Sheathing and Tape