Guidelines for Design and Construction of Energy-Efficient County Facilities

During the past two decades Wake County, as well as the rest of the nation, moved from a period of inexpensive energy and relatively few environmental concerns to one in which building-related decisions are more strongly influenced by rising energy costs and a deeper appreciation of the environmental and societal implications of energy use. Wake County had recognized that over the life of their typical facility, operational energy costs were far exceeding the facility’s initial cost. This was coupled with a growing appreciation of factors influencing indoor air quality and a much greater desire to minimize the impact on our natural environment.

To address these critical issues Wake County, North Carolina decided to develop a guideline which could be used by architectural and engineering design teams when designing new or retrofitted county facilities. By doing this it was felt that the best, long-term interests of the county would be served. County buildings would be more energy-efficient to operate, their environmental impact would be lessened, and the buildings would be more productive, healthy spaces in which to work.

To develop these guidelines the team of Wooten and Innovative Design was selected for their extensive background in these fields and their practical experience in designing energy-efficient, environmentally sensitive buildings.

The document is structured to follow the normal design progression through programming, design, construction, and operational phases. The guidelines do not cover all design strategies but concentrate on those, which if implemented, would have the biggest impact. The document stresses the importance of a revised architectural/engineering team approach that addresses the key issues to be analyzed at each project phase. It also includes easy-to-fill-out compliance forms that will allow school administrators to feel comfortable that the key issues are being addressed in a cost effective manner.

It should be noted that, despite the guidelines covering all types of county facilities, particular emphasis was placed on school design. This was done in order to more effectively influence the design of the large number of new county schools anticipated in the coming decade.