Physicians Strategies For Success library
Building Green From the Ground Up
There is typically a premium to building green, despite a number of green elements that can be incorporated with little impact on the budget. But the long-term payback in healthier offices can be significant.
“Building green” has gained in popularity over the last few years due to the increased cost of energy and the need to protect the environment. Thanks to current building codes and modern technology, our new buildings are much more energy efficient than structures built just a few years ago. Here are some of the key components to building green.
Minimize Negative Effects of New Construction
- Locate the project within 1/2 mile of a commuter rail, light rail or subway.
- Provide secure bicycle racks and/or storage within 200 yards of a building entrance.
- Install vegetated bioswales to help absorb parking lot storm water run-off.
- Reduce the “heat island effect” for roofs and paved areas by using shade trees, solar reflective paving, open grid paving, and solar reflective roof material.
Build Water Conservation Into Your Structure
- Plant water efficient (drought resistant) landscaping materials.
- Use modern irrigation methods that reduce water usage.
- Install water-saving fixtures and appliances including toilets, faucets and dish and clothes washers.
Optimize Your Building’s Energy Performance
- One simple method of optimizing the energy performance of a building is to orient the building on its site along an east/west axis so that it receives maximum natural light during the day, with an emphasis on morning light.
- Other construction elements that impact energy performance include the building envelope design, insulation and window design, high-efficiency HVAC design, in-line service water heating, and energy efficient lighting and appliances.
- Good refrigerant management reduces ozone depletion by phasing out refrigerants using chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Most new building codes require this in all new and remodel construction.
Minimize Construction and Demolition Wastes
- Provide an area in your building that is dedicated to the collection and storage of non-hazardous materials for recycling, including paper, corrugated cardboard, glass, batteries, plastics, and metals.
- Work with the local waste management company to divert construction and demolition debris from disposal in landfills and incinerators. Redirect recyclable recovered resources back to the manufacturing process. Many cities today require a waste management plan before they will issue a building permit.
- Use regional materials that are harvested and manufactured within 500 miles of the project site, thereby supporting the use of indigenous resources and reducing the environmental impacts resulting from transportation.
- Use rapidly renewable materials that are typically harvested within a ten-year cycle or shorter. Some of these materials include bamboo flooring, cotton batt insulation, linoleum flooring, sunflower seed board panels, wool carpeting, and cork flooring.
Ensure High Quality Internal Air
- Increased ventilation helps to improve the quality of the air in buildings. This can be provided by mechanical and natural means. Many new commercial buildings are installing operable windows that can provide fresh air on nice days.
- Reduce or eliminate tobacco smoke in buildings by locating exterior designated smoking areas at least 25 feet from building entries, outdoor air intakes, and operable windows. Many cities now have very strict ordinances against smoking in public areas and this is reducing the affects of tobacco smoke in buildings.
- Use low volatile organic compound (VOC) materials in construction. These materials include adhesives, sealants, paints, carpet systems, composite wood products, and agrifiber products. Again, local codes and product safety laws have eliminated harmful products from being sold. To be safe, users need to review the material safety data (MSD) sheets attached to the products to verify compliance.
- Controllability of systems makes interior spaces more comfortable and saves energy. This is most frequently employed with lighting and thermal controls. This is a very cost-effective way to improve interior comfort and save energy, thus reducing the impact on the environment.
- Provide occupants and indoor spaces with daylight and views to the outside by employing window systems and open architecture. It has been proven that building occupants who are exposed to views of the outside and daylight are happier and more productive.
Building green really is a matter of common sense. It is a method of design and building that protects and preserves the environment, while making the building occupants more comfortable. If taken to the extreme, green buildings can become very expensive, but every green component should be analyzed to determine the relationship between cost versus benefit.
Statements of opinion not necessarily endorsed by ADA Member Advantage, ADA Business Enterprises, Inc., or the American Dental Association, or any of its subsidiaries, counsels, commissions, or agencies.
Bill Pruett is a Project Manager for Wells Construction with over 30 years of experience in commercial, residential and multi-family construction. Bill currently manages multiple construction projects for Wells Construction, collaborating with architects, engineers and clients on design-build projects. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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