Siting the Building
Architects frequently help the building owner with the process of selecting and acquiring the building's site for new construction, or in existing buildings assessing current conditions and updating a survey. Why is the site selection process so important to being a smart building? Because it is a long term, 40 to 100 year decision. The specifics of a site, the topography, climate, and available public utilities will affect the design and construction of the building, possibly incorporating specialized building systems such as seismic, tilt, corrosion, and ground pressure monitoring. Also, the general area surrounding the specific site is critical; proximity to transportation infrastructure, to other businesses, schools, and skilled labor pools may be important to the long term success of the building.
The architect and the design team will select the materials used in the building. These decisions are often a balancing act between constructability, aesthetics, durability, regulations and affordability. These considerations are important because materials deteriorate and wear out. The unpleasant result may be condensation, corrosion, stains, moisture retention, bending, rot, fungus, and a host of other negative properties. Materials are critical because they will affect the ongoing cost and ease of maintenance and operations, requiring servicing, cleaning, repairing or replacing. The selection of materials should focus on the long term use factoring in the cost of the materials as well as the minimization of maintenance.
Today's building materials must also be sustainable; that is, materials obtained from renewable, recycled, or replaceable sources. Products must be analyzed on a lifecycle basis, taking into account the environmental impacts of extracting the resources for the product, the manufacturing process, the materials transport and considering any impacts on material installers or building occupants. Guidelines for selection of materials are available from USGBC, the AIA's environmental resource guide and the environmental lifecycle assessment specified in ISO 1400 standards