30 Ways to Save 70% of the energy traditionally used in a building


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We implemented 10 of the following 30 ways for saving energy and cut 70% from the average amount of energy traditionally used in the four types of buildings for which we developed low energy use plans!  By implementing the following procedures it is estimated energy use could have been reduced by 90% or more.   The energy conservation techniques we used to save 70% of the energy used in our 4 buildings are marked with an asterisk. 

 █  Creating the Building Form to Save Energy…………….

1.  Create Rectangular-shaped structures. *

2.  Build on raised foundations to create a cool space beneath the building which can enhance conduction of indoor heat during summer through floors to the cooler crawl space. 

3.  Develop roof overhangs or other sun control structures on the south side to prevent summer sunlight from striking the building’s south side, and allow winter sunlight to warm the south building side and pass through south facing windows for passive heat gain.*

4.  Use interior spaces as a solar collector for passive solar heating through providing enough south facing windows (glazing) and thermal mass to meet heating needs. *

5.  Include high ceilings to allow summer heat to rise thereby leaving cooler air at lower levels. *

6.  Incorporate air locks at building entries to control the movement of heat into and out of interior spaces. *

7.  Locate windows and doors to create cross ventilation with natural breezes inside the building for use during the transition seasons. 

8.  Provide space for indoor plants to provide humidity in the winter and to cleanse interior air of pollutants. 

9.  Use windows, skylights, and light tubes in order to maximize use of natural daylight to become lighting independent during daylight hours. *


█  Sitting the Building and Developing the Landscape Design to Save Energy…

10.  Face the long side of the building toward the south. *

11.  Plant trees on the east and west sides of buildings to prevent summer sun from striking those building sides and prevent heat gain within interior spaces during summer when heat is not needed. 

12.  Plant a wind ramp of evergreen trees and shrubs from the west side to the east side around buildings and outdoor use areas to prevent winter winds from striking the buildings and creating interior heat loss through encouraging heat to move through the building envelope and stripping heat from building sides.

█  Relying on Building Materials to Save Energy………………

13. Provide enough insulation beneath the roof and within walls to keep heat within the building during winter and to keep exterior heat out of interior spaces during summer.  Insulation can also be provided through building into the earth such as into a hillside, or sloping soil up building sides for energy savings. *

14.  Create thermal mass composed of concrete, ceramic tile, and/or rock for thermal mass in the sun collection space(s) for absorption, storage, and release of heat. *

15.  Select roof and siding materials and colors with high albedo and that are light in color and will reflect the summer heat.  In cool climates where the majority of energy use is for heating, select dark roofs and siding colors that will absorb heat. 

16.  Use energy efficient windows to reduce the transfer of heat into the building during summer and out of the building during winter. 

17 Include windows with screens that open, and doors with screen doors for natural ventilation with fresh air during seasons when temperatures and humidity levels are comfortable. *


█  Using Equipment that will Save Energy……………

18.  Install a flat plate solar hot water heating system to supply hot water needs.

19.  Convert solar energy through using photovoltaic solar panels to create electricity.    

20.  Use fans for cooling in summer and when needed during the transition seasons. 


21.  Use programmable thermostats that can modify temperature set points up and down as the seasons change, and that can turn off the heating and cooling system during transition seasons. 

22. Use energy efficient appliances such as those that have earned the EPA energy efficiency Energy Star label and can save from 20% - 75% in energy use over standard appliances.

23. Use a dehumidifier to create interior humidity levels in summer that encourage body heat loss to provide a cooling effect and allow thermostat set points to be increased beyond the usual settings while maintaining comfortable indoor conditions.

24.  Use a humidifier to provide interior humidity levels during winter that will reduce body heat loss and allow thermostat set points to be lowered beyond the usual settings while maintaining comfortable conditions.

25.  Use ground source heating and cooling systems (geothermal) to save energy when reduction of energy use is not possible through the use of other energy use reduction techniques.


█   Using Interior Furnishing Components to Save Energy…………….

26.  Use window covers at night to restrict the flow of indoor heat through windows to the outside in winter and the flow of outdoor heat through windows to the indoors in summer. 

27.  Select energy efficient lamps (light bulbs) that produce low amounts of heat. 

28.  Use task lighting fixtures for smaller use areas and reduce the need for lighting large spaces, thereby reducing the use of energy. 


A commendable goal for all new buildings and landscapes is to achieve momentous energy conservation through using regenerative techniques.  This can reduce energy use in a building by 70% and possibly up to 90%.  When the energy normally used in a house is reduced by 70-90%, making up the remaining needed energy with photovoltaic panels, and/or a wind turbine would add from $6,000 - $8,000 for a 2000 ft² house and result in the elimination of fossil fuel energy use and production of carbon dioxide.  It would also provide homeowners with either a very low energy bill or no bill at all!

It is possible to build so fossil fuels aren’t being depleted, and carbon dioxide is not being created and stored in the atmosphere.  The building up of CO² in the atmosphere is believed to be causing global warming and climate change.  Buildings and landscapes created so they are net zero energy use and have no carbon footprint do not contribute to global warming.


The Overview

We developed sustainability plans for 5 million dollars worth of buildings.  Their energy use was reduced by 70% less than it would have been if they had been traditionally designed.  Through implementing the following energy conservation methods exceptional energy use reduction was achieved.  The book   Regenerative Design Techniques   by Pete Melby and Tom Cathcart was used to develop the Melby-Cathcart Energy Use Reduction system.

Summary of How Energy is Saved – Remarkably low energy use was achieved in our buildings through employing regenerative techniques.  All of the techniques in our Energy Use Reduction system were not implemented in the 4 buildings for which we developed sustainability plans, and still, the resulting energy use reduction was 70% less over traditional building design!  We believe energy savings up to 90% is possible through implementation of the regenerative techniques in the Energy Use Reduction system we developed.
Our example buildings that employed only some of the regenerative techniques from the
Melby-Cathcart Energy Use Reduction system included a bank, a university administrative building, and two university classroom buildings for the landscape architecture and landscape contracting programs at Mississippi State University.  The bank is 4500 square feet and the three university buildings comprise a total of 20,800 square feet.  The bank was built for $222.00 per square foot in 2008 and the university buildings were built for $168.00 per square foot in 2002.

Heating and Cooling Strategy - All of the facilities are in the hot-humid climate zone at 33½° North Latitude in north-central Mississippi.  In the hot-humid climate zone 2/3 of the yearly bills for heating and cooling are for cooling and 1/3 is for heating.  Our energy use strategy was to reduce cooling demands through the use of air locks at the building entrances, use more insulation than normal in walls and beneath roofs, incorporate thermal mass inside the building for heat storage and release, and integrate high ceilings within interior spaces.  Additionally, summer sun was blocked from striking building sides through the use of overhangs for protection on the south side, and trees for sun control on the east and west sides.  Through consideration of the low winter sun angle and reduced solar azimuth, overhangs allowed solar radiation to enter south facing windows, providing passive solar heat collection in thermal mass sinks. 

Taking Advantage of Natural Cycles - Regenerative techniques for saving energy are based on continuously repeating cycles such as changes in solar azimuth and sun angles, seasonal winds, temperature changes, and seasonal swings in humidity levels.  Becoming knowledgeable of natural cycles and designing buildings and landscapes based on continuously repeating natural cycles can result in the dramatic reduction of energy use.

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