Green Building Through Integrated Design

Chapter 10: Conceptual and Schematic Design

Overview

In the conceptual and schematic design phases, the high-performance design team typically investigates major systems alternatives for the project, looking at free natural resources such as solar, wind, and geothermal; climate control schemes; fa ade alternatives, building, massing, and orientation on the site. At this stage, the team can make some back of the envelope calculations of energy use and energy savings alternatives. The team can make a rough stab at costs, but doesn t know enough for detailed cost estimates. By the end of this phase, the team should know quite a bit about major building systems, pending detailed analyses in the design development phase, along with further costing and constructability reviews.

I cannot overstate the importance of considering sustainable strategies during these two phases; the entire reason for the questions posed in Chaps. 9 through 13 is to avoid overlooking good ideas in the rush to do something. One authoritative text on schematic design puts it this way. [*]

During conceptual design, the owner is convinced that the design team has a vision worth pursuing. During schematic design, the design team convinces itself that the vision sold to the owner is in fact feasible. Rarely do any big ideas creep into the design process after these initial phases.

In other words, every project starts out with a degree of trust, first on the part of the owner, that the team is up to the job. During the next phase, the team demonstrates that it can in fact implement the...

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