Green Building – The Benefits of Going Green and What it Means for Your Bottom Line
The environment is in dire need of help and that’s why sustainability is important in all areas of life. Many products now claim to be made from environmentally friendly ingredients or with technology that saves energy. There are more and more green products every day.
You can find Energy Efficient LED bulbs, low-emission paint, and recycled products of all sorts.
These products often cost more at the outset but the result is usually a cost-effective system that lasts.
Offices and company buildings are especially good at making environmentally friendly work for them. Of course, there are many benefits in this for the environment but there are also benefits to your bottom line.
What is a Green Building?
Green building, also known as sustainable or eco-friendly construction, involves using processes and materials that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building's life cycle. This includes everything from the design, construction, operation, maintenance, and renovation, to deconstruction.
The fundamental aim of leed green building is to reduce the overall environmental impact associated with these processes, promoting sustainability and environmental conservation. Green building often incorporate energy-efficient systems, and water conservation methods, and use materials that are recyclable or sourced sustainably.
The Benefits of Green Building
Embracing green building practices pays dividends for our environment. The eco-friendly design and operational methods intrinsic to green buildings substantially curtail greenhouse gas emissions, thus playing a pivotal role in combating global warming. By optimizing the use of resources, these buildings usher in reduced energy and water consumption.
Furthermore, green structures emphasize minimizing waste generation and promote the efficient use of resources. For instance, materials are sourced sustainably and building designs are oriented to limit waste. Through these combined efforts, the world green building council can substantially trim down their carbon footprints, making a significant contribution to worldwide efforts to mitigate the severe impacts of climate change.
Embarking on the green building sf journey might entail a higher initial investment compared to conventional building practices, however, the economic advantages over the long term are quite remarkable. Energy-efficient appliances and water-saving fixtures, common features in green buildings, lead to significant reductions in monthly utility bills.
Moreover, green buildings hold the potential to bolster property values. With the growing public awareness and interest in environmental sustainability, the demand for green buildings is on the rise, reflecting positively on their market value. Additionally, in certain jurisdictions, owners of green building might be eligible for specific tax benefits or incentives, further enhancing their economic appeal.
Health and Safety Benefits
Green building products stand as bastions of healthier living and working spaces. By prioritizing the improvement of indoor air and water quality, these buildings provide environments that are less likely to harbor harmful organisms like mold and mildew. Features such as improved ventilation and the use of low-emission materials work together to create a healthier indoor air environment.
Moreover, green buildings often incorporate design elements that allow more natural light into the building, which not only reduces the reliance on artificial lighting but also creates a more pleasant, productive environment. This focus on natural light has been linked to better mood and increased productivity among building occupants. Consequently, choosing green building technology is not merely a sustainable decision, it's a choice that benefits the well-being and productivity of the people who inhabit these spaces, making it a truly win-win solution.
Green Building Designs
When embarking on the design of a green building, it's crucial to incorporate elements of sustainability and energy efficiency from the onset. From initial planning, through the construction phase, and into the operational lifecycle of the building, sustainable strategies should be a guiding force. Below, we delve deeper into various design concepts that could be a cornerstone of your green building project:
Harnessing Solar Power with Passive Design
Utilizing passive solar design means that the building is strategically designed and positioned to tap into the sun's energy. The goal is to heat and cool the building naturally, reducing reliance on artificial energy sources. This design strategy includes orienting the building to maximize exposure to the sun, devising overhangs for shading during hotter months, and employing materials with high thermal mass properties. Such materials can absorb, store, and gradually release heat, contributing to a stable indoor temperature.
Living Roofs and Vertical Gardens
Green roofs, often referred to as living roofs, offer multiple benefits. By cultivating a variety of plant life on rooftops, they help mitigate the urban heat island effect, improve insulation, and enhance air quality. Similarly, green walls, also known as vertical gardens, add not only to the insulation and air quality but also provide aesthetically pleasing, biophilic elements to the building design.
Embracing Rainwater Harvesting Systems
Rainwater harvesting systems are an excellent solution for water conservation. They are designed to capture, store, and repurpose rainwater for various non-potable uses, such as landscape irrigation, flushing toilets, and laundry. This strategy significantly reduces the demand for freshwater resources and aids in the management of stormwater runoff, thereby reducing the risk of flooding and soil erosion.
Incorporating Water-Efficient Fixtures
Water-efficient fixtures, such as low-flow faucets, dual-flush toilets, and water-efficient appliances, are key components in a green building. Their utilization can lead to substantial reductions in water consumption, contributing to the overall water conservation strategy of the building.
Prioritizing Energy-Efficient Systems
The integration of energy-efficient systems is a primary principle in green building design. This can involve the use of high-efficiency heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, LED lighting, and appliances rated with the Energy Star label. These elements work together to drastically cut back on energy consumption, leading to lower energy bills and a reduced carbon footprint.
Adopting Renewable Energy Sources
To further the goal of energy efficiency, the incorporation of renewable energy sources is a powerful strategy. Installation of solar panels or wind turbines can provide a clean, sustainable power supply, reducing the building's dependence on fossil fuels. These renewable sources not only generate energy but also create an opportunity for the building to feed excess power back into the grid, adding to its sustainability credentials.
Key Green Building Certifications
Certifications play a critical role in guiding and validating green building practices. Here are a few key certifications:
When you want to have a more energy-efficient building, you should first consider lighting as a logical place to start. It’s the easiest step and the least expensive too.
Of course, this is not the only way to help your company be more energy efficient when it comes to lighting. Sometimes there are too many light fixtures in a single space.
Most of them are not necessary. For example, space could have 20 light fixtures but only need 10. This means that you should remove the ten that are not necessary.
Then you can change the bulbs to more energy efficient ones and get the most out of that since energy efficient bulbs don’t need to be replaced that often. In fact, the LED bulb can last up to 11 years while using less than a quarter of the electricity than the regular ones used.
Most offices, however, have those old fluorescent lights which are less efficient LEDs and they give out that cold feeling which may make some people depressed or simply less productive.
These can be complicated to replace with LEDs or CFLs but it can be worth it.
But if you don’t want to go for that right now, you can install newer fluorescent light fixtures like the T-8 which are energy efficient and don’t flicker, providing a pleasant light for your office.
When you are switching to more energy efficient lighting, you should look up whether you qualify for a rebate or some other incentive that could help you save money.
Another great way to save on lighting is to use the sun as much as possible. Sunlight is always available and it’s free.
So, you can make use of all of the benefits the sun has to give in your office. It also improves the look and feels of your office, as well as how your employees fee.
It can lower your lighting costs as well. There’s less strain on the eyes of people working in the offices and the light reinforces their circadian rhythms, allowing them to feel better in general.
You can renovate your office and make the sunlight a natural part of its design. However, there is a problem with daylight in that it is difficult to control and could provide glare.
It can also overwhelm a space when it’s sunny and distract people. In the winter, it can drive up heating costs because windows are not so great at insulating.
Fortunately, you can add window film and treatments. It makes it easier to use daylight and it can mitigate all of the problems. There are some grants and rebates that can help you pay for this element.
Daylight sensors can come in as excellent options too. This way, the artificial light can naturally replace the natural light without anyone having to turn your light on. These may cost a bit but there may be some incentives for this as well as it enables energy saving.
You can also get an occupancy sensor which could turn the lights on when someone enters the room and then turn them off when someone leaves.
Plug load management
Another way to reduce your bills and be more green as a company is to cut the plug load, otherwise known as vampire load which is a constant drain of electricity made by computers and other office equipment.
You can put computers on a sleep mode which reduces the plug load or electricity drain. However, this isn’t the best solution really. The better way to do it is to use timers to control the use of electricity
This could put office machines on a timer and then it can be monitored through a computer. You could reduce your energy consumption for each appliance by 40%.
This is because it would be turned off 40% of the time. There are incentives for this as well.
You can improve and update your electrical and lighting system as well. Although, this option is a bit more expensive. However, the changes offer a payoff in better branding, lower bills, and generally a better bottom line.
Many businesses rent their spaces too. This makes going green a bigger issue for them. This is called the split incentive.
The fact is that they don’t own any of the space or the appliances and systems but they have to pay the bills. The landlord owns it but they don’t pay the bills.
There is an imbalance because the landlord has no incentive to go green because they are not paying bills. The business owner isn’t sure how profitable this is because they will pay lower bills but they don’t get to keep anything they have paid for in case they have to move out.
It ends up being no one's interested to pay for the improvements.
Some organizations are developing green leases which can fight this. But for now, the situation isn’t clear when it comes to changes.
The bottom line
For many companies, the decision to make the change for greener ways has come with lower utility costs. Between the electricity, heating, and cooling bills, with these reductions, any company can save a lot of money.
But another area where it’s important to go green is in the employee area. You need to make the space more green and beautiful for them.
With proper cooling and heating, enough space and natural light in the room, your office can actually be pleasant for work. This means that your employees will be more productive and do more in general. Employee retention will also be bigger and their health as well.