Buildings have an impact on the environment throughout their life cycles. They use water, raw materials, and energy, all resources that need to be conserved. From the construction phase to the occupancy and renovations or even demolitions, buildings generate all kinds of waste and often discharge harmful emissions.
The good news is that there has been a positive global green building trend that indicates a rise in eco-friendly building activity globally. The movement not only benefits the environment but also benefits a business.
Modern commercial construction is slowly becoming the leader in green building. However, there has been a steady rise in retrofits in existing buildings that offer hope to Mother Nature. If you’ve been wondering how to make your commercial space eco-friendly, the following ideas will go a long way.
Sustainable Construction Materials
For years, people have used unsustainable materials to construct commercial spaces. However, several eco-friendly construction materials have begun merging in the marketplace to help build green commercial spaces. Still, it can be tricky identifying what sustainable materials look like since everyone has their definition of sustainability.
Some will look at whether the material was locally sourced, while others examine the material’s embodied energy. Embodied energy refers to the total energy needed to extract the material from the ground until its end of life. This may include the water it needs, resources, and gas it consumes during transportation.
While there is no perfect material for green building, some are certainly more sustainable than others. Smart Cities Dive notes that the most sustainable materials include cork, precast concrete slabs, recycled or reclaimed wood, bamboo, and sheep’s wool insulations.
Efficient lighting in your commercial space will go a long way in helping you reduce your electricity bills while also using less energy. LED lights may cost more upfront. However, they last longer and use less energy than incandescent lighting. You can also install many windows for natural light.
Natural light benefits you, your pocket, and your employees. Your employees will have better sleep quality and better overall health, thus making them more productive. It will also lower your utility costs as you won’t need artificial lighting to illuminate the workspace.
Mechanical ventilation methods like traditional HVAC systems use up more energy and result in many carbon dioxide emissions. While some employees might be okay wearing a sweater indoors when it’s cold, most really won’t want to in the name of saving energy.
A great way of going green is to use natural ventilation methods instead of mechanical ones. Using thermal mass cooling, solar heating, or passive systems to supply outdoor air to the interior of your commercial space for ventilation and cooling allows the outside weather to offer low humidity.
It also helps moderate the temperature of wind currents as an alternative cooling and heating source. Natural ventilation offers an energy-efficient and comfortable environment for the building’s occupants and lowers utility costs.
Green Eco-Friendly Roofing and Walls
Nowadays, many commercial spaces are adopting green building advances for several reasons. When installed outside of a building, green roofing and living walls can insulate the building and reduce cooling and heating costs. Living walls, or biowalls, reflect solar radiation, absorb rainwater, and improve air quality by releasing oxygen and trapping carbon dioxide.
Other companies prefer to apply the living wall concept indoors. While the benefits may not be the same as outdoors, the indoor biowalls can still purify the air and recycle greywater. They also add to the room’s aesthetic and enhance employee mood.
Eco-friendly roofing materials like metal, skater tile, rubber, and recycled content are also some of the most popular eco-friendly roofing choices out there. These materials maximize energy efficiency, thus making a valuable contribution toward a greener environment.
Dual Plumbing Systems
The dual plumbing system is a type of plumbing system that uses water that’s otherwise unsafe for drinking and instead transfers it to use in things like flushing toilets and landscape irrigation. This system is designed to help buildings conserve water. Dual plumbing systems work by separating water into potable and reclaimed water.
Potable water can be used for drinking, washing, and cooking, while reclaimed water was formerly sewage. While reclaimed water doesn’t sound safe, it is usually treated to remove any solid waste and made free of any harmful bacteria but isn’t safe to drink.
Benefits of Going Green
In the past, people considered green construction as mainly a residential housing trend. Additionally, it was costly to think about implementing it on commercial property. Nowadays, the movement offers a return on investment in terms of all the money saved on utility costs. Going green today will also score your company incentives such as grants, tax breaks, and rebates.
Green buildings use fewer resources and rely on recycled materials, significantly reducing waste that can otherwise be dangerous for human health.
We Can Help
If you’ve considered going green for a while now but don’t know where to start, Souder Brothers Construction Inc. can help with that. We offer a wide variety of services in the commercial construction space. Contact us today and start your project with confidence.