Building with green materials

If you plan on starting construction soon on a new commercial building, you may be looking around for some ideas for ways to make the building more environmentally friendly. There are quite a few things you can install during the construction of the building that can even save money and reduce waste. While you may not achieve net zero status with these tips, you can still get plenty of benefits. Let’s look at 4 tips to make your new commercial building green and clean. 


1. Install low-e windows. 


Low energy windows, known as low-e windows, are one of the hottest green innovations on the market. The windows have a special coating that helps to regulate the amount of heat from sunlight that comes in and stays out. The windows depending on the type, will only do one of two things, allow in heat from sunlight while keeping out cold air, or keeping cold air inside while preventing heat from entering. While that might sound disadvantageous for either type, you should install them strategically throughout the building to maximize the amount of natural heating you can get during daylight hours. 


2. Low flow toilets should be in every restroom. 


Low flow toilets allow you to prevent water waste in your building while lowering the costs associated with water usage. Low flow toilets use just enough water to efficiently flush the bowl. Likewise, you should also install electronic faucets that detect when the water isn’t being used anymore as to reduce water waste even more. Also make sure to consider installing blow drying systems instead of paper towel dispensers for clients to dry their hands with.   


3. Lighting concerns. 


Lighting will be a very important part of any commercial building, no matter what the intended usage is. You should consider two things when deciding how the building will be lit. Try to install natural lighting sources, such as skylights, whenever possible. Skylights can cut down on the amount of power being used during the day dramatically. Auxiliary lighting and night time lighting should carry Energy-star certification, to ensure that they use the least amount of power as possible. Try installing LED bulbs whenever and wherever possible, as these use very little energy and put out low amounts of heat. 


4. Try to use recycled and reclaimed materials whenever possible. 


Often, green solutions focus on energy and water usage and reduction. However, another area that you can incorporate green methods into is recycled, reclaimed, and salvaged materials. For recycled materials, things like insulation, interior decorations, and even landscaping materials make use of old clothes, rubber, paper, and wood. Reclaimed materials like wood boards and sheet metals can be used to make flooring and interior walls with. Salvaged materials, which are typically surplus unused goods, can even be used to reduce costs. You can find things like roofing supplies, lumber, paint, concrete, and metal at far cheaper prices than normal. All of these items help reduce waste in the ecosystem while also contributing less to natural resource degradation. 

Green Roofs in Commercial Construction

The roof of any building is your first barrier against Mother Nature and with the trend moving towards greener construction, roofing materials have changed too.  Having a green roof can help with the cost of utilities, create  a safe space for plants and animals and contribute to the local environment rather than contributing to local pollution.  Here is how green roofing works and the materials used.

What Does Green Roofing Mean?

Roofs are typically wasted space on commercial buildings but when you have a green roof instead of just empty space the roof is being used as a garden instead.  The roof is built to hold grasses and plants growing in shallow soil covering the roof’s surface.  These plants are meant to grow as naturally as possible and this is not a space meant for recreation.

The Cost of Green Roofing

Installing a green roof is going to cost more than traditional roofing materials and it is going to take more planning.  First of all your building needs to be constructed well enough to support a green roof.  Green roofs are heavier and the surface of the roof will be covered with plants and soil.  Larger roofs even add trees to the other plant life.

Pros and Cons of Green Roofing

Green roofing is meant to help combat climate change particularly in urban areas where there is a lot of CO2 being dumped in the air and very little plant life to absorb it.  What has been traditionally unused space can now be used to help fight climate change.  Green roofs help provide a barrier against bad weather and it can help assist with drainage.  It provides additional insulation allowing your property to be more energy efficient.

The biggest drawback to a green roof is the cost.  Whether you opt to green your entire roof or just a portion of it there will be costs that a traditional roof just doesn’t have.  You are going to need a special architect to design it for you and it won’t be cheap to install.  Until costs come down it will be an expense that many business owners don’t want to pay for.

While green roofs are being hailed as one of many possible actions against climate change the reality is, until the costs drop or the government start offering tax incentives we won’t have as many green roofs as we need in the fight against climate change.

Energy Efficient Buildings

The rising costs of energy along with the demand for greener technologies has been felt across all industries even commercial construction.  Everyone from the Department of Energy, construction manufacturing and the construction industry itself are looking for ways to build more energy efficient buildings.  Energy efficient buildings save money and that makes corporate shareholders happy when they get to keep more of their profits.  It also allows us to compete globally while at the same time reducing the amount of pollution spewed into our atmosphere.

Residential home builders have been working with recycled building materials and building homes that are Energy Star Efficient for decades now.  Builders know what the market wants and that has allowed manufacturers to come up with some innovative products to allow for greener and better built homes.  It has taken a bit longer for the commercial construction industry to catch up, but that is slowly changing and more commercial properties are being built with solar panels and other renewable energy sources.

Green Construction on the Rise

The number of energy efficient commercial properties such as office buildings and even manufacturing plants has seen tremendous growth.  According to the EPA green commercial construction has increased by 27% over last year.  These buildings have all earned the Energy Star label with many of them using up to 40% less energy than a comparable building with regular construction.

That may not seem like such a big deal but you have to take into account that commercial buildings make up half of our energy consumption in the entire country.  Reducing that amount of energy or converting it to renewable energy sources is a big step forward in the fight against climate change.

Manufacturing Sector

Business and commercial interests are motivated by the bottom line more than doing good for the environment and that is what has prompted this shift more than anything.  In the manufacturing sector there are more than 35 factories that have earned the Energy Star and that has allowed them to save money.  If you combine all of the commercial buildings and factories that have an Energy Star rating and combined their savings it would add up to $1.5 billion dollars each and every year in savings. The better news is that it reduced CO2 emissions by 25 billion pounds.  It is a win-win for the shareholders and the public as well.

Green construction will be the future of the construction industry.  With the amount of savings from energy efficient buildings alone being so high it will fuel innovation for years to come.

How Climate Change is Affecting Commercial Construction

Climate change has begun to impact every aspect of our lives and commercial construction is no different.  Building owners are demanding greener techniques and materials and the onus is on builders to provide what they want.  This is a big change for the industry and there are new regulations in places to ensure that builders stay compliant.  Environmental impact studies are now the norm and you need to know your project’s impact on the environment and get approval before you can even break ground.

Climate Change and Energy Consumption

When it comes to environmentalism and the commercial construction industry the demand has always been for greener materials and how construction will impact the local area.  That is starting to shift with the threat of climate change.  Not only do we need to consider the materials used in construction but how they will stand up to the weather in the future.  How will the building stay energy efficient and cool as summers get hotter.  How will the building withstand storms and changes in weather patterns?  These are now real considerations that come into the design phase of construction.

Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

The first thing that you need to think about before any project kicks off is reducing greenhouse gases and your carbon footprint. This doesn’t just apply during the construction phase although that is important too but after the building is complete if it can be carbon neutral that is ideal.  Here is a look at how that can be done in the construction industry.

You can start by using greener building materials in the construction project.  Recycled materials are far easier to find now and they can be cost effective.  Going green isn’t just a vanity project for celebrities anymore customers are demanding better solutions.

Alternative Energy

The energy consumption the building will use in the future is also a big concern as weather patterns change and more energy is required to heat and cool commercial buildings.  Incorporating alternative energy into construction is also a must.  Solar panels along with geothermic can be incorporated right from the beginning reducing the need for fossil fuels.

Climate change is getting worse and it is starting to impact all aspects of our life.  If we want to fight climate change then we need to make changes to how we do things including commercial construction.  Building techniques are changing to adapt to the modern world we live in.

Going Green with Commercial Construction

The environment is always a consideration in any type of construction project but if you want your commercial construction project to be labelled “green” then there are guidelines that you have to follow to qualify.  Green construction really isn’t that different from a regular project, you are still going to need to have skilled tradesmen onsite and both require detailed planning.  The difference between the two is that green construction tries to keep the effect on the local environment to a minimum.  Going green with commercial construction does mean adhering to different rules, let’s look at what sets green construction apart.

Energy Efficient Systems

During the construction process you will be required to install the most energy efficient systems possible.  That includes things like your HVAC system along with lighting and plumbing as well. Most of the commercial HVAC units that are on the market today use far less energy than they did a decade ago.  The building will also need to be properly sealed to keep your HVAC system efficient.

Reducing Waste During Construction

Construction uses a lot of materials and generates a great deal of waste at the same time.  If you want to maintain your green certification then the construction project will have to use fewer materials and create less waste.  The waste that is generated should be sent for recycling rather than ending up in a landfill.  You should also use recycled materials whenever possible throughout the project.  The idea is to reduce our carbon footprint throughout the project.

Water Conservation

Conserving water is always a big part of green construction, both during the building process and after the building is complete.  The plumbing needs to be installed with that in mind.  That includes low flow shower heads, toilets that use less water along with taps that operate on sensors so they are never left on.  There is also the option of turning wastewater into some type of fertilizer removing the need for wastewater management.

Incorporating Solar

The roof is a prime piece of the project that can help make it greener.  Solar panels can be installed to help meet the energy needs of the building post construction.  That helps reduce the need for non-renewable energy source.  For the building owners it can also reduce the energy costs of running the building afterwards.  Excess energy can be sold off to the local power company making the project pay for itself.

There are plenty of builders that don’t embrace the new green construction guidelines but they are the way of the future.  We need to do all that we can to ensure there is an environment left for our children and grandchildren.