North Carolina Embraces Sustainable Design

SeptemberOctober 2008
Industry News

North Carolina Embraces
Sustainable Design

As reported this summer in the Triangle Business Journal, North Carolina’s General Assembly has instituted new energy conservation standards for new construction and major renovations of state-owned buildings, including the university system. The new legislation covers contracts signed on or after Oct. 1, 2008.

The law limits the new standards to “major facilities”: new buildings larger than 20,000 square feet of occupied or conditioned space; and renovation projects where the renovated portion of a building is larger than 20,000 square feet of occupied or conditioned space. The new regulations do not apply to historic buildings.

The law stipulates that new buildings would need to be certified to at least 30 percent greater energy efficiency (20 percent for renovations) than the current standards set by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). Additionally, specific standards have been set for water conservation and lighting efficiency.

Architect Doug Brinkley (Pearce, Brinkley, Cease + Lee), a North Carolina Building Code committee co-chair, told the Journal that architects in his state now must take an integrated design approach to new projects. “Architects need to sit down with the owner to determine how we’re going to achieve energy savings,” he said. He also added that out-of-state firms will need to be aware of the new requirements if they are to work in North Carolina.

Moreover, Renee Hutcheson, a senior associate at Small Kane Architects in Raleigh, N.C., and chair of the state’s Design Modification Process Subcommittee, told the Journal that architecture firms will need to start involving engineers earlier in the design process. “Engineers will have to come up with schematic design solutions. They will need to be part of the design team and will have to come on board earlier,” she said. “The architect has not yet brought in specialty groups, like engineers, early in the design process.” MD