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
LOCAL PRODUCTION / SUSTAINABLE YIELD
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.
ENERGY CONSERVATION / RECYCLED MATERIALS /
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.
PESTICIDES-HERBICIDES / NON-POLLUTION GENERATORS / LOW VOC
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.
LOWEST IMPACT / LEAST INVASIVE