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Green Design

                                                         ARCHITECTS ¨ LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTS ¨  SITE PLANNERS            

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Archsoft Consultants endeavors to understand our clients' needs and project conditions while developing a design and materials palette. Underlying our design material selections are the following general policies:



Whenever possible we specify locally produced materials, not only to conserve transportation costs, but to express the regional character while encouraging regional self sufficiency . Certain materials are only produced outside of this region, and may be considered for special reasons, such as color, form, durability, etc.. We will only select rain forest region products with verification of sustainable yield production, such as plantation grown teak. Field collected materials, such as wildflower seeds or specimen plants will only be accepted from recognized growers, or with certificates of origin. All planting must be regionally grown or adapted for a minimum two years.


Low energy usage means more than high efficiency lighting and heating/ventilation system. Of course we encourage clients and engineers to design at state of the art mechanical electrical systems and resulting initial costs. Beyond this, we are concerned about total energy consumed on the project -- the total energy budget, starting with component manufacturing energy expenditures, transportation energy, on-site erection/assembly, building and site usage, and finally continuing maintenance energy costs. By preparing a rough audit of energy required to mine, produce, ship, and install materials, special human considerations aside, we can reduce overall energy consumption.

Wherever possible we will select non-petroleum based materials, such as concrete vs. asphalt walks; and less processed materials, such as crushed rock vs. concrete walks, or water based paints.    If a recycled or re-usable material is available, within cost of alternates, it will receive special consideration.

Water conservation principles will be followed, starting with minimum site grass, site drainage recharging, porous pavements, followed by low volume toilets, faucets, etc.. If required to irrigate a site, we shall suggest lowest appropriate technology, along with on-site water usage, such as a site well, or reclaimed wastewater/ grey water usage.


Materials with long operational life cycles will receive priority. Characteristics involve durability, low maintenance costs, ease of repairability, and stylistic "endurance". For example, compact fluorescent lamps last longer than incandescence, regardless of higher energy efficiency; brick walls last longer, and have less total maintenance than stucco plaster walls, which in turn have a longer duty cycle than wood siding. Certain heat pump systems [air to air] provide high efficiency yet have high maintenance problems requiring specialized labor, when compared to water to water.


Landscape designs will encourage native or regionally adapted species, non-poisonous, with few recognized pest problems, cold hardy and water conserving. Preferred fertilizers are organic origin vs. inorganic chemical. We encourage the "integrated pest management" approach to landscape maintenance. Interior materials will be selected to minimize noxious gases, odors, and pollutants, such as formaldehyde bearing particle board or asbestos bearing materials. We will never specify CFC or formaldehyde bearing insulation. Our goal is to specify stable, inert materials. In addition, we are strongly in favor of biological filtration of storm water run-off, and groundwater recharging as two means of reducing site generated pollution and volume concentrations in down stream lakes and rivers.


If it is possible to choose between these two, we will chose materials produced with high labor content vs. high technology/capital costs requirements. Many have called this approach "appropriate technology". For example, given the same installation cost, we might choose a troweled-on material vs. sprayed on. As a factor of least expense [using irrigation as an example], we might suggest starting with hand watering vs. semi-automatic; next semi-automatic vs. fully automatic spray; finally an automatic spray vs. drip irrigation. The goal here is to use human labor and the simplest level of technology where it is equivalent in cost and quality to capital intensive equipment and complicated technology.


We will attempt to disturb the smallest possible site area to accomplish the proposed design objective; starting with the least invasive procedures and moving to the most invasive. The use of mitigating devices [retaining walls, major drainage structures, large site fills and cuts] shall be minimized, with primary emphasis given toward stabilizing and regenerating natural systems, and second to program .


We have experience using LEED or other rating systems such as BUILT GREEN.  We can help select cost effective points toward a desired rating level;  strategies and materials  that make sense for long term durability while preserving our environment.


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