The idea of going green is more than just a trend. It is an idea that is here to stay. These days, there are many strategies, both large and small, to help make a commercial build more sustainable and eco-friendly. Here are some tips that can help make your next building project more sustainable:
- Sustainability starts with an idea. While strategies to be more efficient can be used on buildings already in existence, the best way to go green is to build it that way. Address desires and needs for sustainability at the design phase of a build, right from the beginning.
- Think literally. An obvious way to be more sustainable is to literally use plants. Going back to hanging baskets and climbing ivy, plants have always been used to bring life to a building, but you can go beyond old uses. Green roofs and rooftop garden systems help to lower greenhouse gas emissions by absorbing carbon dioxide. Another advantage is that gardens can aid in insulation and absorb rainwater runoff. Plants don’t have to be relegated to rooftops; living walls are also an option.
- Take advantage of the sun. Solar panels are what many think of as an environmentally conscious building choice. However, smart use of the sun in a passive way is also effective. When the sun is used as an integral part of lighting, heating and cooling choices, it not only makes a building greener, but it can also save money. While using the sun isn't necessarily expensive, it can be complicated and requires careful design because each building is different. Factors such as climate and location have to be considered as well. Skylights can also provide natural lighting. There are other benefits, too. For example, using existing daylight and large windows can boost worker's moods.
- Use the water you have. We all hear about conserving water by making small changes like shutting it off while brushing our teeth. Water conservation can be applied to commercial builds. Dual plumbing systems, for example, separate potable water and reclaimed water from waste. With such systems, water from hand washing can, in turn, be used to flush toilets, for example. There are other choices that can conserve water. Grey water, or collected rainwater, can be used to water the rooftop garden and other landscaping.
- Choose the right materials. Materials that retain heat well will reduce energy usage. Energy efficient light bulbs and sensors to control brightness lower the amount of electricity used. Implementing an environmental management system can reduce waste and increase recycling. Insulation is available in more than the traditional pink fiberglass variety. Materials such as newsprint, milk bottles and even denim can be used to make insulation. Choosing recycled and sustainable insulation can have a big impact. Moreover, windows can now be made of “smart glass” that reduces the work of an HVAC system.
Keeping green solutions in mind when designing a commercial build can pay off by making an impact on the environment while also making an impact on the wallet over time.
Have questions about sustainable buildings? Contact an expert at ACI today.