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Green Architecture Checklist: Commercial Buildings

Please take a few minutes to make sure you have addressed the basic criteria to make each of your buildings green, or ecological: walk the talk. Adapted from the US Green Building Council's LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System.
Colorado AIA Committee on the Environment. James Plagmann, Author. Thomas Doerr, Editor.

Click the following link to download a PDF version of this checklist. Click to view the Residential Architecture Checklist. Click for a definition of sustainability and an overview of development's impact on our environment.


Site Selection - Avoid development on sites that are: agricultural; in the 100-year flood plain; subject to landslides, erosion or wildfires; habitat to endangered species; wetlands.

Urban Redevelopment - Channel development to urban areas with existing infrastructure, protecting greenfields and preserving habitat and natural resources.

Alternative Transportation - Reduce pollution and land development impacts from car use by locating buildings near transit, providing bicycle amenities, encourage carpooling, and providing alternative fueling stations.

Reduce Site Disturbance - Conserve existing natural areas and restore damaged areas to provide habitat and promote biodiversity.

Stormwater Management - Limit disruption of natural water flows by eliminating storm water runoff, increasing on-site infiltration and reducing contaminants. Minimize impervious surfaces. Implement groundwater recharge.

Landscape and Exterior Design to Reduce Heat Islands - Reduce heat islands by eliminating or shading blacktop paving and dark roof surfaces.

Light Pollution Reduction - Eliminate light trespass from the building site. Improve night sky access.


Water Efficient Landscaping - Minimize the use of potable water for irrigation by using xeriscaping and high efficiency irrigation technologies, including drip irrigation, rainwater capture, graywater, etc.

Water Use Reduction - Maximize water efficiency within buildings to reduce the burden on municipal water supply and wastewater systems. Specify water-efficient fixtures and equipment.


Optimize Energy Performance through siting, orientation, building form, insulation, glazing, daylighting, and controls. Study performance with energy modeling programs. Practice integrated design including all parties of the project from inception.

Renewable Energy - Promote energy self-sufficiency and minimize reliance on limited fossil fuels by incorporating on-site renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, geothermal and biomass.

Building Commissioning - Verify that the building is designed, constructed, and calibrated to operate as intended with third party quality control assurance.

Eliminate HCFCs - Reduce ozone depletion by installing building level HVAC and refrigeration equipment and fire suppression systems that do not contain HCFCs.


Building Reuse - Extend the life cycle of building stock, conserve resources, retain cultural resources, reduce waste, and reduce environmental impact of new buildings.

Construction Waste Management - Divert construction, demolition, and land clearing debris from landfills. Redirect recyclable material back to the manufacturing process.

Resource Reuse - Specify salvaged or refurbished materials such as wood flooring/paneling/cabinets, doors and frames, mantels, ironwork, decorative light fixtures, brick, masonry.

Recycling/Recycled Content - Provide for occupant recycling of waste. Specify products that contain recycled material.

Local/Regional Materials - Specify materials that are harvested, extracted and manufactured regionally.

Rapidly Renewable Materials - Specify rapidly renewable materials such as straw, bamboo and some woods.

Certified Wood - Specify wood from certified sustainably managed forests.


Carbon Dioxide Monitoring/Exhaust - Install independent system or make a function of building HVAC system.

Assure Ventilation Effectiveness - Employ architectural and HVAC design strategies to increase ventilation effectiveness and prevent short-circuiting of airflow delivery. Consider underfloor HVAC and operable windows.

Construction IAQ Management Plan - Implement during construction process to protect ventilation system and workers.

Low-VOC Materials - Specify low-VOC adhesives, sealants, coatings, composite wood products and carpet systems.

Indoor Chemical and Pollutant Source Control - Install entry grates to capture dirt. Segregate and separately ventilate areas of chemical use and storage. Appropriately plumb drains used for liquid waste disposal.

Controllability of Systems - Provide a high level of individual control of thermal, ventilation and lighting systems.

Daylight and Views - Provide a connection between indoor spaces and outdoor environment through the introduction of sunlight and views in a glare-free way. Consider courtyards, atriums, clerestory windows, skylights, and light shelves.

One of the Colorado sustainable architecture firms specializing in sustainable design, Doerr Architecture offers meaningful, humane design. sustainable architecture firms in Colorado rarely specialize in both expressive and sustainable design. Of all the sustainable architecture firms in Denver Colorado metro, Doerr represents a strong committment to meaningful design. Boulder Colorado sustainable architecture firms can offer humane design. Thomas Doerr is past chair of the Colorado chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Committee on the Environment. Thomas has worked with good Denver sustainable architecture firms. Recent design projects by this Colorado green architecture sustainable firm include the Boulder Co-op Market - Boulder Colorado, the Finch House -Denver Colorado, the Krueger-Cunningham House - Boulder Colorado, the Troxell-Murphy House - Boulder Colorado, and the Massage Therapy Center - Steamboat Springs Colorado.