Green building practices lead to practical benefits for the occupants of a structure and far-reaching benefits for the environment. In a world where resources are finite and where our construction methods can have lasting effects—either good or bad—on the environment, sustainability has risen as a primary concern to address. Therefore, when erecting commercial buildings, you should incorporate elements that make your building sustainable. This can draw in people to set up residence in the space with the eco-friendly appeal that you present, and it can make for a structure that is built to last without the need for costly repairs and revamping down the line.
Insulation and Windows
It may not be initially apparent, but how well the building’s interior is separated from the outside has a great effect on daily operating costs. If the building heats up and cools down too easily based on outside temperatures, a lot of energy will be required to maintain a comfortable temperature for the people working there. You can circumvent such a circumstance by paying attention to the quality of insulation and windows in the design and construction stages. Make each surface well-insulated from the exterior, so heat transfer is minimized. This includes the walls, ceilings, and floor.
There are energy-efficient windows you can install that allow sunlight to come in and offer a good view of the outside, but which do not pass on as much unwanted heat. As they don’t inadvertently warm up the building, you won’t need to use the cooling system as much to bring the temperature back down. Energy-efficient windows can do this with better-insulated frames and multiple layers of glass that have an insulating gas between them. The gas may be of a substance such as krypton or argon. These gases are not poisonous and are completely colorless and odorless.
Passive Solar Orientation
In the same vein as proper insulation and windows, you can aim to utilize passive solar orientation to make use of the sun’s rays in favor of the building while minimizing its undesired effects. Passive solar orientation is the purposeful arranging of the walls and windows in order to amplify heat gain when it is cold and diminish it when it is warm. Successfully implementing it necessitates that you take into account the positioning of the sun over the course of a day, its variations during different seasons, and how much sunlight is present in the area on average. You may also use structural components that jut out to block the sun at certain times of the day. A building with passive solar orientation will not need to rely on artificial climate control, which effectively conserves electricity and lowers the money spent on HVAC utilities.
Besides temperature adjustment, lighting fixtures are another large part of energy expenditure in buildings. Although your first priority when it comes to light should be to rely on the sun (as passive solar orientation does), there may moments where you need to use electric lights. For instance, the sky may be overcast, or people may need to work at hours when the sun is not out, such as in the early morning or later at night.
Even in such instances, you can still impart improved energy efficiency to the building to reduce the adverse environmental impact it has. Utilize eco-friendly alternatives to incandescent bulbs. LED lights are a smart choice because they use less energy and last much longer. Additionally, you can fit the building with an automated system that shuts the lights off when a motion sensor detects that people are not in a room. Alternatively, you may use a system that turns on and shuts off lights at specific time intervals. These will ensure that no extra energy is wasted when it is not needed.
Water is a resource that can easily become overused in a building if you are not careful. In a commercial setting, the primary areas to look at in order to save water are the restrooms. You may pick fixtures as you construct it that are more eco-conscious than normal. To start, consider installing toilets and urinals that utilize less water when flushed. An outdated toilet can require several gallons of water just to flush once, but eco-friendly versions on the market today have features to curb this problem. Some have flush buttons that give an option between full and half flushes, while others use less water in general per flush.
You can also find sink faucets in eco-friendly models that use a motion sensor to turn on when needed, then stop immediately after. In fact, these kinds of faucets are common enough that you are most likely already familiar with them. They are highly beneficial because they prevent people who use them from needlessly running the water.
The materials you build with can contribute to your structure’s sustainability in a couple of ways. For one, they can aid passive solar orientation by absorbing thermal radiation or staying cool according to the needs of people. Dense materials like stone, brick, and concrete can take in and give off heat when exposed to the sun, all while maintaining a lower temperature than the surroundings when kept in the shade. This is due to a characteristic they possess known as thermal mass. With adept design, a building can be made to have surfaces comprised of such materials come in contact with sunlight in cooler parts of the year while keeping those surfaces shaded in warmer months.
The materials you use may also play a part in your efforts to reduce waste. There are materials that are more sustainable to produce. Certain wood varieties and bamboo take less resources to get to a functioning state for building. Materials made through recycling also exist. This process saves waste from going to landfills and playing a part in environmental pollution. Concrete from demolition sites can be gathered and crushed to form new concrete, which you can then use for your building. Moreover, you can select plastic lumber instead of normal lumber for any outdoor framework parts in your design, as it is made of HDPE plastic from bottles and jugs that consumers are done with.
If you want to include plastic lumber in your next building project, get in touch with Bedford Technology. We are at the forefront of the recycled HDPE suppliers’ industry and are committed to bringing you products that are sustainable and sensible.