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f you are a computer-aided drafter, you will find in your career that you are always developing new economic solutions to improve the cost-efficiency and overall design of a building. If you specialize in value engineering then this is your daily life, but economic solutions are important for all engineers and architects to know how to cut back on money if necessary when designing buildings. Here are some strategies for developing economic solutions for building designs:

Economic Analysis

The first step to economic solutions is economic analysis. Economic analysis is used to figure out the most cost-efficient options for a building. Some examples of economic analysis include Life-Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA), which accounts for all sorts of costs needed in a building over its lifetime. Construction, maintenance and operation costs are all calculated so designers can determine an alternative if the cost is too high.

Engineering training will stress the importance of saving money by clever use of materials. Value engineering is an alternate method of economic analysis, in which a building’s requirements are assessed for the purpose of achieving the lowest possible cost while maintaining all the essential functions. Value engineering may result in alternate design concepts or materials which still fit the client’s desires but are more economical overall.


For a building to be considered cost-effective, it must have the benefits of any similar design, but with a lower overall whole life cost. Cost-effectiveness is about determining solutions to implement everyday necessities in a building while keeping costs down. While the goal is not explicitly tied to environmental concerns, cost-effective building designs can also help cut down on wastefulness. If you are studying architecture training, you will soon learn that reducing unnecessary embellishments and features often actually add to the design of a building.

Examples of cost-effective methods could include:

  • A high-functioning heating/cooling system which uses less money
  • Providing more daylight to a building to cut down on electric lighting costs
  • Reconstructing new buildings out of the materials of older buildings
  • Using recycled building materials
  • Removing unnecessary features like wall paneling and in some cases doorways (this could include an open floor plan as an option)

There are also certain materials which are better than others in terms of saving money:

  • Concrete mixed with slag content (up to a dollar less than pure concrete, and more durable)
  • Low-VOC paints are cheaper and reduce environmental impact
  • No-water urinals (can cost up to $250 less than water urinals)

What are some economic building solutions you are aware of? Where have they been used?