ecotecture.GIF (12664 bytes)
Department of   Design and Environmental Analysis,
Cornell University
  1. External Considerations

  2. Core & Envelope

  3. Indoor Ecology

  4. Material/Product Content

  5. Ecotecture Worksheets

  6. Additional  information.

  7. Case Studies

Use the table of contents to go directly to specific topics:




Design Considerations:

Self-Sufficient-   The facility may be able to be entirely self-sufficient and deliver extra power to the grid.  Federal law requires that your utility company purchase power provided by you at a market rate, so economic incentives can be substantial.

Renewable Fuels-  Computer modeling is often used to help determine the potential design, operation, and cost of solar-powered systems.  If renewable fuel sources are not currently feasible, try to make allowances at the time of construction for their potential use in the future.

Fossil Fuels-  Since fossil fuels are readily available and inexpensive in the U.S., heating and cooling systems are typically overused and oversized.  Avoid using fossil fuels that require a high amount of embodied energy and create a potential environmental desecration through mining, refining, and transport.  

Cooling Systems- Good passive design, insulation, and appropriate system sizing will result in the most efficient systems.  Buildings that are earth sheltered, if only in part, gain the benefit of a fairly consistent exterior temperature, which helps maintain a regulated indoor temperature naturally.  Reducing undesirable heat gain can save half to three-fourths of the amount of cooling that would be otherwise required.  Automated controls and timers can save energy by reducing and increasing cooling during times that a space is unoccupied.  When mechanical cooling is necessary, try to specify a system that has no ozone depleting chemicals such as CFC or HCFC.

HVAC Intake & Exhaust-  Be sure not to locate the intake near any parking areas or where machinery may be running in order to avoid pollutants in the building.  The air exhaust should be located on the negative pressure side of the building to reduce the energy load on blower fans.

Personal Environment Modules-  By using slide controls located on a panel at their workspace, occupants can individually control temperature and airflow within their own spaces through vents and radiant heaters, which are built into the workstations.  A motion sensor turns off the system within the space if the occupant leaves, and turns it on again when the occupant returns.


Renewable Fuels-   DOE-2 Computer Modeling, Mechanical Engineers

Case Studies to Research:

Harmony, a Center for the Study of Sustainable Resort Development, St. John, Virgin Islands  
(a rainwater cistern under its structure to collect and store water)

Fossil Fuels- 
National Audubon Society, New York Headquarters - Gas-fired heating system
Renewable Fuels-  
Center for Energy and Environmental Education, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IA.
Wells Woodburn O’Neil
Cooling Systems –
Levy /Kaminstein House and Studio, Islamorada, FL.
Jersey Devil Architect
-Advanced Photovoltaic Systems, Production Facility, Fairfield, CA.
Kiss Cathcart Anders Architects
-Spring Lake Park Visitor’s Center, Santa Rosa, CA.
Obie G. Bowman, Architect
-The Queen’s Building, School of Engineering and Manufacturing, De Monfort University
Leicester, England
Short Ford and Associates, Architect
Personal Environment Modules-   West Bend Mutual Insurance Company, 
West Bend, Wisconsin
Herman Miller- Miller SQA Facility
Zeeland, MI.
William McDonough + Partners

Further Information:

“Green Gothic” Davies, Colin.  Architecture. Vol.84, no.7, July 1995, pp.88-97.
“Campus Energy” Barreneche, Raul A. Architecture. Vol.84, no.7, July 1995, pp.98-103.
“Sea Breeze” Landecker, Heidi. Architecture. Vol.83, no.6, June 1993, pp.58-61.
“Power Plant” Moffat, David. Architecture. Vol.83, no.6, June 1993, pp.74-81.
“Pyramid of the Sun” Henderson, Justin. Architecture. Vol.83, no.6, June 1993, pp.82-85.
Moore, F.  Environmental Control Systems: Heating, Lighting, Cooling.  New York:  McGraw-Hill, Inc, 1993.
The Ecology of Architecture: A Complete Guide to Creating the Environmentally Conscious  Building by Laura Zeiher.
American Society of Heating, Refrigerator, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) 
Environmental Resource Guide
National Audubon Society Audubon House:  Building the Environmentally Responsible, Energy-Efficient Office.  New York, NY:  John Wiley and Sons, Inc. 1994
Center for Resourceful Building Technology.  Guide to Resource Efficient Building Elements.  PO Box 3866, Missoula, MT 59806.

Web resources:
U.S. Department of Energy:  EPIC - Pollution Prevention Information Clearinghouse

















































Cornell University, December, 1998