Beyond Green Buildings: An Integrated Holistic Design Approach

EPA Grant Number: SU831879
Title: Beyond Green Buildings: An Integrated Holistic Design Approach
Investigators: Ramaswami, Anu , Cronin, Greg , Zhai, John , Herdt, Julee , Rens, Kevin , Mann, Maggie , Deru, Michael , Clark, Tom
Current Investigators: Ramaswami, Anu , Andreas, Fred , Zhai, John , Pitterle, Mark , Rouise, Steven , Hillman, Tim
Institution: University of Colorado at Denver , University of Colorado at Boulder
EPA Project Officer: Page, Angela
Phase: I
Project Period: October 1, 2004 through May 30, 2005
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2004) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Built Environment , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainability


Technical Challenge: The Urban Sustainable Infrastructure Engineering Program (USIEP) at the University of Colorado at Denver is designing a Sustainable Youth Zone (SYZ) building in a disadvantaged community in Commerce City, CO. The SYZ utilizes a holistic integrated approach by incorporating zero net energy consumption, maximal water conservation, minimal pollution and waste discharge (the goal is "zero"), and maximum recyclability, whose design phase requisites active public & regulatory participation.

Innovation: Ample work has been done to address the optimization of individual sub-systems within a building, e.g. renewable power generation from photovoltaic, wind, etc. and alternative in-situ wastewater treatment in constructed wetlands, Living MachinesTM, anaerobic digesters, etc. However, to date extremely little work has examined the interactions and full integration of the full suite of individual sub-systems within a building and no thorough design life cycle-based design decision matrices have been developed. This project addresses urban sustainability by integrating and designing the built environment to closely parallel natural ecosystems through energy and materials cycling in integrated building sub-systems.

Implementation and Evaluation: The P3 grant will be used to enable the initial design phase of the Commerce City SYZ project, yielding quantified decision matrices through a cradle-to-cradle, environmental and economic life-cycle assessment (LCA) analysis assisted, technical design. The design will examine recycled and sustainable material selection as well as integrating renewable energy, passive solar/orientation, alternative wastewater, and near zero waste recycling systems leading to an unparalleled approach to sustainable infrastructure integration into buildings. The success of the design will be evaluated by the following metrics: costs, ecological footprint, demand of material, energy and water usage, occupant comfort, productivity, and well-being, indoor air quality and ambience, and the viability of cyclical systems. The final design of the SYZ building will be demonstrated at the D.C. mall with a state-of-the-art model deliverable that clearly denotes integration of individual sustainable sub-systems.

Relationship to P3: The SYZ will benefit up to 8,800 disadvantaged youth Commerce City area. The design decision matrices can then be used to educate homeowners and builders worldwide, ultimately resulting in cities with minimal building ecological footprints. The cost-effective design approach is expected to show that environmental sustainability can be compatible with economic viability.

P3 as an Educational Tool: More than 2000 students across architecture, engineering, science, urban planning, and public affairs in two campuses will be impacted. The SYZ building has the potential to become a national and/or international showcase for integrated sustainable urban infrastructure systems design, educating builders and urban planners worldwide to make design decisions that reduce the ecological footprint of buildings. Project integration into existing courses, specific course creation, and education of the public community and regulators are also educational outcomes of the SYZ project.

Supplemental Keywords:

green building, integrated assessment, life-cycle analysis, renewable, green engineering, Rocky Mountain Region, Colorado (CO), EPA Region VIII,, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Sustainable Industry/Business, Sustainable Environment, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Ecology and Ecosystems, Engineering, Environmental Engineering, sustainable development, green design, holistic design, ecological design, environmental conscious construction, green building design, alternative building technology, Urban Sustainable Infrastructure Engineering Program, life cycle assessment, environmentally conscious design

Relevant Websites:

Project Description

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report