Sustainability

Sustainability

The era of sustainable design and building is underway, and we are excited to be a part of solutions that are meaningfully changing how resources are utilized, protected, renewed and newly created. Sustainable strategies and practices provide value in the marketplace and help us to sustain the quality of life and the environment.  Our process and approach to sustainability consider a site’s natural surroundings and climatic conditions to provide a basis for how we implement passive sustainable strategies, as well as active systems and technologies to achieve maximum performance and benefits.  RHA strives to produce more energy-efficient designs and energy offsets wherever possible.

 

The research and strategies provided by the organizations that inform our industry are vital in helping us continue to improve our processes, choices and benefits to our clients and the environment. Below are useful links to sustainability research, practices and strategies provided by the EPA, State and Federal commissions, educational institutions and utilities.

LINKS AND ADDITIONAL INFO

Links to Stanards, Rating Systems & Resources

US-EPA – Energy Star “ENERGY STAR is a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency voluntary program that helps businesses and individuals save money and protect our climate through superior energy efficiency… Through its partnerships with 18,000 private and public sector organizations, ENERGY STAR delivers the technical information and tools that organizations and consumers need to choose energy-efficient solutions and best management practices.”

 

California Energy Commission - Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Program “The HERS Program was initially implemented to address construction defects and equipment installations that had historically not been done correctly. These HERS measures cover HVAC system and insulation installation. In an update to the HERS Regulations, the rating of a home as a system (known as Whole House Home Energy Rating) was implemented, where a home is rated on a scale from 0 to 250 to show its efficiency relative to a reference home built to just meet the Title 24 Building Energy Efficiency Standards' prescriptive requirements.”

 

USGBC - LEED “LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is changing the way we think about how buildings and communities are planned, constructed, maintained and operated. Leaders around the world have made LEED the most widely used third-party verification for green buildings… LEED works for all buildings—from homes to corporate headquarters—at all phases of development. Projects pursuing LEED certification earn points across several areas that address sustainability issues, ... receiv[ing] one of four LEED rating levels: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum. LEED-certified buildings are resource efficient. They use less water and energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

 

International Well Building Institute  “The WELL Building Standard® is an evidence-based system for measuring, certifying and monitoring the performance of building features that impact health and well-being. WELL is administered by the International WELL Building Institute™ (IWBI), a public benefit corporation whose mission is to improve human health and well-being through the built environment. WELL is grounded in a body of medical research that explores the connection between the buildings where we spend more than 90 percent of our time, and the health and wellness impacts on us as occupants."

 

Southern California Edison - The Sustainable Communities Program “The Sustainable Communities Program (SCP) is an innovative program offered by Southern California Edison (SCE) that supports the inclusion of sustainable and energy efficient features in new construction, major retrofits, and master planned community projects. … The SCP expands the traditional focus of utilities… to include complete sustainable development – addressing design and construction practices that affect occupant health and environmental well-being, as well as lowered energy use. The SCP team will work with project teams to discover energy savings from water efficiency and solar orientation, as well as provide information about on-site generation technologies.”

 

Southern California Edison – Savings By Design Program “Energy efficient buildings save money, showcase performance, and demonstrate how we can live within our environmental means.  From both an environmental and sustainability standpoint, the well-designed building becomes truly relevant in today’s architectural dialogue.  Administered by California utilities, Savings By Design encourages high-performance, non-residential building design and construction, and a variety of solutions to building owners and design teams.”

 

Links to Sustainable Strategies

Geothermal - Ground Source Heat Pumps “The Department of Energy (DOE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have both endorsed ground source heat pump systems as among the most energy efficient and environmentally friendly heating, cooling, and water heating systems available. In a 1993 report, the EPA concluded that geothermal technologies represent a major opportunity for reducing national energy use and pollution, while delivering comfort, reliability and savings to homeowners. The International Ground Source Heat Pump Association (IGSHPA) is a non-profit, member-driven organization established in 1987 to advance ground source heat pump (GSHP) technology on local, state, national and international levels.”

 

Geothermal Heat Pump and Ground Loop Technologies – State of CA Energy Commission  “This paper provides a brief overview of  [Geothermal Heat Pump and Ground Loop] technologies and their barriers to more widespread use in California. … Using the relatively constant temperature of the ground, the technology is used to both heat and cool buildings. Geothermal heat pumps typically result in significant energy efficiency gains over conventional building space conditioning and domestic hot water and have proven to work well with other renewable resource applications such as photovoltaic systems and solar hot water. Geothermal heat pumps have existed in the United States for more than 50 years.”

 

Greywater/Hot Water Recycling "Grey water is the term used for the soapy, mostly clean water that comes from your home's showers, laundry, and hand sinks… The NEXtreater system captures this water and then produces clean water using an innovative 3-stage hybrid process that combines floatation, filtration and disinfection in an appliance-like package… Grey water is often generated by showers and laundry and typically is quite warm. … [The] NEXheater can efficiently concentrate and transfer this heat through a novel heat pump process… efficient enough to provide all of the home's hot water needs.... By capturing a home's grey water and reusing it for landscaping and toilet flushing a home can easily expect to reduce its sewer flow by 70% or more!”

 

Indoor airPLUS (indoor air quality) “Indoor airPLUS is a voluntary partnership and labeling program that helps new home builders improve the quality of indoor air by requiring construction practices and product specifications that minimize exposure to airborne pollutants and contaminants… EPA created Indoor airPLUS to help builders meet the growing consumer preference for homes with improved indoor air quality. Indoor airPLUS builds on the foundation of EPA's ENERGY STAR requirements for new homes and provides additional construction specifications to provide comprehensive indoor air quality protections in new homes.”

 

Heat Pump Water Heaters “Heat pump water heaters use electricity to move heat from one place to another instead of generating heat directly. Therefore, they can be two to three times more energy efficient than conventional electric resistance water heaters. To move the heat, heat pumps work like a refrigerator in reverse. … [A] stand-alone air-source heat pump water heater pulls heat from the surrounding air and dumps it -- at a higher temperature -- into a tank to heat water. You can purchase a stand-alone heat pump water heating system as an integrated unit with a built-in water storage tank and back-up resistance heating elements. You can also retrofit a heat pump to work with an existing conventional storage water heater.”

 

Solar Electric Systems “The solar resource across the United States is ample for solar electric systems -- also known as photovoltaic (PV) systems -- because they can use both direct and scattered sunlight. However, the amount of electricity generated at a particular site depends on how much of the sun's energy reaches it. Thus, PV systems function most efficiently in the southwestern United States, which receives the greatest amount of solar energy.”

 

Sustainable Projects