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:

Site selection - All attempts should be made to reuse an existing building before building a new structure.  Site selection should involve a demographic investigation of location of growth.  A new building being built should be located in area where there is the shortest commute for the majority of occupants.  The amount of commuting by cars and parking needed to relocate employees and occupants produces an enormous amount of pollution and has a major negative impact on the surrounding natural environment.  As well, the redevelopment of an urban or suburban site will cause less damage than bulldozing virgin property.

Campus versus high-rise (site density/ layout)-  Design a campus setting, where the buildings are no more than two stories and spread throughout the site.  High rise buildings disturb the surrounding neighborhoods, buildings, and trees by blocking sunlight and creating wind tunnels.  Campus layouts are more sensitive to the surrounding environments, and they encourage walking.

Solar access & orientation-  Locate your building on a site where ample sunlight is available.  Know where the sun rises and sets in order to capitalize on natural lighting. 

Prevailing winds- Use vegetation and topography for wind and snow protection.  Hide buildings behind hills and trees.  This reduces the energy load on buildings.

Adjacent buildings- Find out the rules and regulations of your site.  Incorporate these into the location and design of your building. 

Disturbance of site throughout construction-  The building must be located on the site in such a way that the removal of trees and vegetation is minimized.  Protect the natural features and vegetation of the site during construction process by designating access routes, parking staging, storage, and work areas.  Provide a physical buffer such as a temporary fence between these areas and those that need to be protected.  Truck access throughout construction should be confined to areas which have the least impact on the site.  Heavy equipment should be kept to a minimum, and it should always utilize designated access routes. Watershed areas should be carefully handled.

Construction waste management-  Resource conservation should be promoted by recycling and/or reusing existing building materials whenever possible.  Hire local contractors or share contractors with other local projects to minimize energy consumption and decrease waste. Also designate areas for separation and recycling of materials at the job site. 

Access/ egress & circulation- Paving for vehicles should be limited to main access corridors, parking garages, etc.  Pedestrian paths from cars to buildings should combine pavement with grass in order to reduce erosion and integrate nature.  Paving materials and content should be made of recycled and natural paving materials, such as recycled glass and concrete, stone, wood, etc.

Outdoor lighting & safety-  Provide an adequate amount of energy efficient outdoor lighting, such as high pressure, low “E” sodium lamps.  Computer modeling will help to achieve a balance between a good amount of lighting for safety purposes and too much lighting that creates light pollution.

Solar access & orientation-  Computer modeling (DOE-2)
Disturbance of site throughout construction-  Develop construction methodology for a commitment to an ecologically sustainable agenda
Construction waste management- Develop construction methodology for a commitment to an ecologically sustainable agenda
Outdoor lighting & safety- Computer modeling (DOE-2)

Case Studies to research:
Information on case studies can be located with the resources listed in "further information"

Site selection: 
City of Austin, TX.;Western C-9 Basin Plan; Dade and Broward Counties, FL.; Duany Plater- Zyberk and Dover, Kohl and Partners.

Stapleton Redevelopment Plan, Denver, CO.
Cooper, Robertson and Partners.

The Botanical Park at the National Museum of Natural Science Taichung, Taiwan (located at a 15-acre urban site)
HOH Associates.

Adjacent buildings:
Inland Revenue Center, Nottingham, England
Michael Hopkins & Partners, Architect.

Solar access & orientation: 
Harmony:  A Center for the Study of Sustainable Resort Development, St.John, Virgin Islands.
James Hadley Architect

Boyner River Ecology Center, Shelbourne, Ontario
Douglas B. Pollard Architects

Further Information:
"Sustainable Cities: can architects ecological design beyond buildings to the urban scale?" McKee, Bradford. Architecture. Vol. 84, No.7, July 1995, pp.61-65.

"Center of the Earth" Mays, Vernon. Architecture. Vol. 83, No.6, June 1993, pp.52-57.

"In Nature's Arms", Landecker, Heidi. Architecture. Vol. 83, No.6, June 1993, pp.70-73.

EPA Green Building Standards
Primer on Sustainable Buildings

Web resources
U.S. Department of Energy: EPIC - Pollution Prevention Information Clearinghouse 
Idaho National Engineering Laboratory, Enviro$en$e
National Extension Water Quality Database
Universities Water Information Network

















































Cornell University, December 1998