CONSIDERATIONS OF SUSTAINABILITY IN SITE WORK, EXCAVATIONS, AND FOUNDATIONS

Building sites should be selected and developed so as to protect and conserve natural habitats and resources, to promote biodiversity, to preserve quality open space, and to minimize pollution and unnecessary energy consumption.

Site Selection
Buying and renovating an existing building rather than building a new one saves a great deal of building material and energy. If the existing building has been scheduled for demolition, its renovation also avoids the disposal of an enormous quantity of material in a landfill.

Building in an urban area with existing infrastructure, rather than in undeveloped land unconnected to other community resources, protects open space, natural habitats, and natural resources.

Building on a damaged or polluted site, and designing the building so that it helps to restore the site, benefits
the environment rather than degrades it.

Avoiding construction on prime agricultural land prevents the permanent loss of this productive use of the land.

Avoiding construction on undeveloped land that is environmentally sensitive protects the wildlife and natural habitats such land supports. This includes fl  oodplains, land that provides habitat for endangered or threatened species, wetlands, mature forest lands and prairies, and land adjacent to natural bodies of water.

Avoiding construction on public parkland or land adjacent to bodies of water that support recreational use prevents the permanent loss of public resources.

Selecting a building that is well connected to existing networks of public transportation, and to pedes-trian and bicycle paths, pays environmental dividends every day for the life of the building by saving fuel, reducing air pollution from automobiles, and minimizing commute times.

Site Design
Minimizing the building footprint and protecting and enhancing portions of the site with natural vegetation protects habitat and helps maintain biodiversity.

Appropriate landscape design and the use of captured rainwater, recycled wastewater, or other nonpotable sources of water for landscape irrigation minimize wasteful water consumption.

Minimizing impervious ground surface (such as for vehicle parking) and providing a surface drainage system
that conducts water to areas on the site where it can be absorbed into the ground works to replenish natural aquifers, avoid overloading of storm sewer systems, and reduce water pollution.

Grading the site to appropriate slopes and planting vegetation that holds the soil in place will prevent erosion.

Large existing trees cannot be replaced except by growing new ones over a period of many decades. Planting of new trees is good, but preservation of existing trees is even better.

Distinctive site features such as rock formations, forests, grasslands, streams, marshes, and recreational paths and  facilities, if destroyed for new construction, can never be replaced.

Providing shade, vegetated or refl ective roof surfaces, refl  ective paving materials, and open pavement systems reduces heat island effects and creates an improved microclimate for both humans and wildlife.

Minimizing nighttime light pollution is a benefit  to humans and nocturnal wildlife.

Avoiding unnecessary shading of adjacent buildings protects those buildings’ sources of natural illumination and useful solar heat, minimizing their unnecessary consumption of electricity and heating fuel.

Siting a building for best exposure to sun and wind maximizes solar heat gain in winter and minimizes it in
summer to save heating and air conditioning fuel. It also allows utilization of daylight to replace electric lighting.

In general, a building should be designed in such a manner that the site does the heaviest work of environmental modification through good orientation to sun and wind, trees that are placed so as to provide shade and wind-breaks, and use of below-grade portions of the building for thermal mass. The passive shell of the building can do most of the rest of the work through orientation of windows withrespect to sunlight, good thermal insulation and airtight-ness, utilization of thermal mass, and energy-efficient windows. The active heating, cooling, and lighting equipment should serve only to fine-tune the interior environment, using as little fossil fuel and electricity as possible.

Construction Process
It is essential to protect trees and sensitive areas of the site from damage during construction.

A building should comply with all local conservation laws relating to soils, wetlands, and stormwater.

Topsoil should be stockpiled carefully during construction and reused on the site.

It is important to guard against soil erosion by water and wind during construction, as well as the sedimentation of streams and sewers, or the polluting of air with dust or particulates that can result.

Vehicle tires compact soil so that it cannot absorb water or support vegetation. Thus, it is important to develop minimal, well-marked access routes for trucks and construction machinery that minimize soil compaction, as well as minimizing noise, dust, air pollution, and inconvenience to neighboring buildings and sites.

Construction machinery should be selected and maintained so that it pollutes the air as little as possible.

Surplus excavated soils should be reused either on the site or on another site nearby.

Construction wastes should be recycled as much as possible.

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