Transforming A Commercial Real Estate Building to a Green Building
Green buildings are a way to address issues like global warming, and climate change. In this article, we share tips on how a commercial real estate building can be converted into a green building and positively impact the environment.
The benefits of a green building go beyond economics and the environment. Green buildings all around the world are a way to address global issues like climate change, global warming, etc. In fact, green buildings are laying the foundation for sustainable and thriving communities.
Commercial real estate buildings in the United States account for almost 40% of the natural CO2 emissions, outpacing both the industrial and the transportation sectors. With the commercial real estate sector using an enormous amount of energy, there’s a need to have more sustainable real estate buildings.
A study by Harvard revealed that people working or living win green office spaces record a 101% increase in their cognitive scores. By planning strategically and using the right materials, it is possible to reduce the impact of your carbon footprint and save the environment. Here’re the 5 steps to build an eco-friendly commercial real estate building:
1. Smart Design: To construct an environment-friendly building, you need an intelligent design which makes the best possible use of space. Designing a more open workspace which allows more natural light to permeate can save the environment by reducing carbon footprint. The size and the placement of windows should be designed considering the climatic conditions of the area. The windows should be placed along the sides where there is a minimal exposure to direct heat while at the same time allow more natural light to permeate. The window to wall ratio should not be more than 40%.
Another significant step in this space could be the use of the government rated energy star products which drops heating and cooling costs and greatly reduces sound transfer between outside and inside.
2. Keep Your Roof Cool: The roof of your commercial real estate building can have a dramatic impact on the building’s overall energy efficiency.
As commercial real estate buildings have large roof surface areas, having a low-sloped roof with an extremely flat roofline and a slight incline for draining needs are a good choice. Another pivotal factor is the roofing materials used. Slate, metal roofing, terra cotta, special membranes, etc, there are many roofing products available with different degrees of green benefits.
Moreover, the US Environmental Protection Agency has listed over 3,000 Energy Star Products based on building type, location, roof, etc. Metal roofs are one of the most effective roofing materials being used in commercial real estate buildings. It is 100% recyclable, lightweight, weather-resistant, and can achieve a solar reflectance of over 70% which allow buildings to remain much cooler and thus, lowering the overall energy costs.
3. Installing Highly Programmable Thermostats: A highly programmable thermostat can be the biggest contributor to minimize the energy consumption of a building. These thermostats will make sure that the heating and cooling system is working only when it absolutely needs to. Furthermore, these thermostats learn from your behavior and start operating according to the preferences and activities.
On average, installing a thermostat can save one around 10% a year on costs associated with heating and cooling along with the benefits of conserving resources and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
4. Using Recyclable and Biodegradable Materials: The most commonly used material in construction is concrete. But unfortunately, this material releases tons of CO2 into the environment. By using recyclable and biodegradable materials, one can reduce the impact of construction on the environment. For flooring, products like linoleum, bamboo, cork, etc, are quite environment-friendly and are natural renewable materials. They are not only great for insulation but also have a long lifespan and can be recycled at the end of the life.
Another significant biodegradable material is biodegradable milk, created from milk protein, lime, and mineral pigments which form an organic paint mixture.
Many other recycled products like recycled lumber, recycled fiberglass insulation, plastic, glass are less damaging to the environment and are produced with reduced energy costs and pollution.
5. Innovative Approaches to Construction: As the future of eco-friendly buildings is becoming more promising, there’s a need to adopt more innovative approaches to construction. One such instance is a Chinese company which used 3D printing technology to print ten concrete houses from recycled materials in just 24 hours.
Another approach is to harness geothermal power. It is a process to move heat instead of creating it, in the winters, heat moves from deep underground to the building’s HVAC system while in the summers, the AC removes excess heat and dissipates it underground using the same principle as of a heat pump. This technology needs only a small amount of electricity to run, saving energy as well as reduce the cost.
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About the Author: William Holly, the President of Patton Real Estate, is the developer of Miami’s first LEED Certified Green Building. You can read more about his views on green building here: https://therealdeal.com/miami/2011/06/26/miami-developers-go-green-as-leed-becomes-required-standard-for-class-a-space/