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Giving an EDGE to sustainable design

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Pollution prevention and energy efficiency are not only good for the environment, they are good for the bottom line.

Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have developed tools for sustainable design, a term that describes a systematic approach to ensuring that facilities, products and processes are addressing the "triple bottom line"‚Ä"the environment, economics and social equity.

The Environmental Design Guide for Engineers, or EDGE, is a software tool that provides information about more than 250 opportunities to incorporate sustainable design into projects, including measures that help reduce life-cycle costs while increasing energy efficiency and material efficiencies. Users can browse the opportunities in search of ideas appropriate for their facility. They also could use EDGE as a mechanism to document opportunities already included in the design, those being reviewed for consideration and those that don't apply.

"Facilities, products and processes should not be isolated from the environmental economic and social systems surrounding them," said Kim Fowler, who helped develop the tool. "Sustainable design involves balancing the needs of humans with costs and the environment to ensure that new designs are considering the triple bottom line."

EDGE allows users to evaluate sustainable design opportunities based on how difficult it would be to implement the recommended actions and the potential avoided costs.

For architects, engineers and sustainable design experts, EDGE can be used to generate ideas or aspart of a design assessment. It also can document design decisions for a certification process, such as the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a rating system that evaluates a building's environmental performance.

"EDGE offers concepts that, when implemented, will reduce the environmental impact and avoid costs throughout the life of a facility‚Ä"from design, construction, operations and decommissioning," Fowler said.

Pacific Northwest offers sustainable design strategies that integrate physical science, engineering and social science. In addition to EDGE, the Laboratory has developed tools and conducted assessments as part of its work for the U.S. Department of Energy's Sustainable By Design project. Since 1993, this effort has allowed DOE to avoid approximately $24 million in construction and operating costs.

The EDGE software is available to DOE and its contractors at no cost.


For more, see www.pnl.gov/doesustainabledesign/tools/edge.html.


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