“Going green” has been a buzz phrase since the late 1970’s. For some, “Going green” meant the old adage “reduce, reuse, recycle”. By the turn of the 21st century, there became a growing interest in using renewable energy (i.e. Solar, wind, natural gas, etc). However, from a developer’s perspective, “going green” has become an aggressive goal to increase sustainability of their structures before, during and after construction without undermining the integrity or stability of the surrounding natural resources or ecology.
Making “Every Building Greener” is the vision and heartbeat of the Canada Green Building Council, the Canadian issuers of the internationally recognized Leaders in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certification. Some of the strategies they encourage commercial developers to employ include the following:
During the design & construction phase, “Going Green” would include strategies such as:
- incorporating greenhouse or garden roofs to help reduce carbon emissions, and restoring or creating gardens around the parameter of the building
- large windows for light emission at the design stage
- recycling of building materials during the construction stage in order to minimize the exhausting of natural resources to create building materials and reduce “waste” materials going into landfills
- the use of renewable energy resources such as Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) cells along the outside of the building to capture solar energy to offset the use of main stream electricity
During the interior design and construction stage, “Going Green” strategies could include
- constructing the interior layout to maximize natural light emission throughout each floor
- utilizing energy efficient light bulbs and light sensors to automatically dim or brighten lights based on the amount of natural light coming into the building
- utilizing high thermal mass insulation in ceilings and walls to help minimize the energy used for heating and cooling
- installing water-saving toilets
- installing living walls or indoor garden areas to control carbon dioxide emissions and improve air quality
For Building Operations & Maintenance, “Going Green” strategies would include
- keeping the building clean
- ensuring comfortable temperature for tenants
- encouraging the “reduce, reuse, recycle” programs by providing clearly marked containers throughout the building for waste and recyclable materials
- ensuring all replacement materials are either energy efficient, or made from recycled materials
Besides being environmentally responsible, developers that have made it a priority to “go green” have seen their utility costs go down. One company estimates that its water and energy reductions alone have saved $40 million. Outside of the savings, these companies have attracted top quality tenants and employees, and thus have seen their vacancy rates decrease. If that is not an incentive enough to consider “going green”, then I don’t know what is.
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