The Anatomy of an Energy-Efficient Building


In many industrialized countries, the building sector typically consumes more energy than transportation and manufacturing. This is due to many people spending most of their time indoors, which drives demand for energy. However, the limited supply of energy sources pushes stakeholders to adopt energy-efficient building designs.

Energy-efficient buildings are designed to optimize heating, cooling, lighting, and other operational needs. They integrate various design features, technologies, and materials to maximize energy resources, reduce waste, and minimize environmental impact.

Adopting energy-efficient strategies can significantly lower energy bills. For small businesses, this could mean higher annual savings and increased profitability. These freed-up funds can be reinvested into the operations or expansion of the business. 

Moreover, green initiatives in New Jersey buildings can contribute to environmental sustainability. Minimizing energy consumption and lessening reliance on fossil fuels for energy sources can mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and fight climate change.

There are two main approaches to making buildings energy efficient – passive and active designs. Passive design prioritizes using natural resources and climate-responsive design to reduce reliance on heating, cooling, and lighting systems. On the other hand, active design uses advanced technology for mechanical and electrical systems to enhance building performance. Active design strategies must be integrated with passive approaches to achieve maximum energy efficiency.

One strategy under passive design is proper building orientation and layout. These aspects influence the amount of sun the building receives and its year-round temperatures. For example, orienting an office building so the areas with the most activity receive less sun can help keep occupants comfortable during the summer months. With the air conditioning system not working so hard, building tenants can save on energy costs.

Achieving optimal solar orientation requires a thorough understanding of the sun’s path across the building site. A NJ structural engineer generally designs buildings with windows facing south within about a 20-degree angle to maximize solar absorption.

When designing energy-efficient structures, a structural engineer New Jersey analyzes the building site, climate conditions, and architectural designs to develop passive solutions. These professionals also use their knowledge in mechanical, electrical, and environmental engineering to design and implement active systems to optimize energy usage in a building. They also contribute to selecting materials, implementing renewable energy, and collaborating with other professionals.

For more details about energy efficiency in buildings, here is an infographic by Lockatong Engineering.