A sustainable building is defined as an outcome of a design philosophy that focuses on increasing the efficiency of resource use while reducing building impacts on human health and the environment during the building’s lifecycle.
Whether you are planning to renovate, repurpose or build a new building, having a sustainable solution can save time and materials, ultimately leading to higher profitability. Also, the U.S. Green Building Council study shows that employees who work in LEED-certified green buildings are not only happier and healthier, they are also more productive.
Sustainability should be incorporated throughout the entire life cycle of your building, from selecting the land to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and even deconstruction.
Here are a few considerations for how to build sustainable construction projects.
USE GREEN BUILDING MATERIALS
Commercial building owners and managers will invest a projected $960 billion globally on “greening” their existing built infrastructure between 2015 and 2023, according to the United States Green Building Council. This makes sense as Materials and Resources is one of the nine categories of the LEED scoring system, which measures how energy-efficient and “green” the building is.
Green building materials are durable, reusable or recyclable and can include bamboo, recycled steel and wood, with timber making the lowest environmental impact on its production and life cycle. Your general contractor should be able to procure these items for nearly the same cost as non-green building materials.
These materials can be used externally and internally in your building. As examples of the former, use fiber cement for siding, modified wood for exterior decking and recycled steel for the metal roofing. As examples of the latter, use recycled glass in the bathrooms and cork in the breakrooms for countertops. As previously mentioned, you can use these materials during the building, renovating or repurposing of a building.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
Siting your sustainable building is one of the most important part of the green building process. Choose an ideal location from the start to avoid problems such as building in an area where stormwater runoff and draining occur, or where soil erosion and water pollution exist. The LEED awards the location based on factors ranging from proximity to public transit to bike storage and showers.
FOCUS ON THE INTERNAL ENVIRONMENT
Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) is another part of the LEED scoring system, as it addresses the environment inside a building and how it affects the occupants within. Rated factors include lighting, temperature, air quality and the amount of daylight, all of which influence the way people learn, work and live.
A good IEQ score protects the health and comfort of your building’s occupants. A building’s physical and mechanical design (e.g. ventilation, airflow, location of wastes and toxins), along with the management of construction emissions and building operations, can affect the quality of indoor air. For example, to prevent the build-up of odors, carbon dioxide and allergens, include separate exhaust for break rooms and food prep areas or use energy-efficient fans for enhanced air movement. To increase daylight exposure, position private offices toward the core of the space and use glass walls and light-colored surfaces on walls and desks to disperse light throughout.
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FoxArneson specializes in both design and building services for corporate offices.