by Jessica Harris
Sustainable building or “Building Green” is a driving force in today’s market for new construction development. Building green demands a group effort from the design and construction team to integrate sustainable elements into the architecture, design and construction. If you are looking to for ways to become more eco-friendly and socially responsible consider the following 5 things that can be implemented into your new project.
#1 Optimize Site Selection- Choose a sustainable area!
Start off by closely evaluating the building site and discover the ways you can cut costs and save money from the very beginning. Consider the following:
- Redevelop a Brownfield
- Use an existing structure and renovate the building
- Easy accessibility of roads, parking and public transportation
Orientation/Shape of the Building
- Orient your building in a specific way to optimize your heating or cooling needs
- Allow in as much daylight as possible by specifically designing your building with windows that maximize the amount of natural light throughout the interior spaces. This will help you control electric lighting costs.
- Co-create with the environment and natural surroundings. Through the use of indigenous greenery, heat and storm water will be efficiently absorbed reducing cooling costs and pollution runoff.
#2 Optimize Energy Use- Save Energy!
It is essential to find ways to increase energy efficiency and reduce energy consumption when building green. The design phase is a great place to start when incorporating elements that will optimize energy usage. Consider the following:
- Control the amount of natural light let into the interior of the space by incorporating design elements such as:
- Clerestories-glass partitions above interior walls to let more natural light in
- Photo Voltaic Sun Shades
- Color Rendering Lamps
- Dimmable Electronic Ballasts
These elements will help reduce your electric bill by allowing the natural light to illuminate the space and increase internal heat.
- Use energy efficient office equipment that have an energy star label
- Take advantage of the energy efficient light bulbs and fixtures as they will significantly reduce your electricity bill and last much longer than traditional bulbs.
- Install sensors to control lighting and HVAC in areas that are being used less frequently than others.
- Utilize renewable energy by implementing solar panels into your design
#3 Optimize water efficiency- Conserve water!
Reduce, reuse and recycle the use of clean water both internally and externally to protect and conserve your water usage. Consider the following:
- Landscaping can help reduce your need for irrigation
- If you have the need for irrigation, consider a micro-irrigation system that delivers water to the grounds much more efficiently than traditional systems.
- Use a gray water plumbing system
- Consider a closed loop cooling tower
#4 Use Environmentally Friendly Materials
Use materials that minimize the impact of harm to the ecosystem wherever possible. This will allow you to save some money on the project! Consider the following:
- Renovate an existing building or reuse structural elements wherever possible
- Build Green by reusing recycled materials that are available locally
- Refurbish old furniture to reuse in the space
# 5 Enhance Indoor Quality
Help have a positive impact on the occupants of the building by using materials and furnishings that protect indoor environmental quality. Consider the following:
- Avoid using materials with high VOC emissions
- Consider green cleaning products to improve workers safety and health
- Design the space with windows that are functional allowing the occupants to control their fresh air
- Maximize the amount of daylight let into the space
The overall idea of building green is to avoid the depletion of energy, water and raw materials. By prioritizing environmental and life cycle considerations throughout all phases of architecture, design and construction you can achieve all of your sustainability goals. Click here to read more on the benefits of sustainable building.