It’s exciting to see the strides being made to improve buildings in a way that will help reduce costs while also benefiting the betterment of the environment! Building efficiency has a variety of categories that can improve energy usage and increase sustainability. If you’re in the process of a new construction or renovating an existing one, it’s important to consider the factors surrounding building efficiency improvements so both your business and environment can continue a symbiosis of green culture and practices.
What is building energy efficiency?
Building energy efficiency involves constructing new or renovating existing buildings in a way that significantly reduces the energy needed for various systems such as lighting, heating and cooling, water heating and other systems independently from the energy used or the equipment chosen for the building.
Why is sustainability important in construction?
Sustainability in construction means that resources are being used efficiently or in a way that considers the environmental impact and implications of the resources or process of construction used in a building. When constructing a building, there are already stakeholders of the client, firm and local government that can have a hand in a given project. However, it must be emphasized that the community and people in it can directly be affected by the decisions made and should be considered as additional stakeholders into the equation. Toxic waste could be generated from buildings as well as non-renewable energy sources which can produce a considerable amount of waste. It’s important to realize that it is very possible, and often cost-effective, to offset the harm we can potentially create in building by replacing them with beneficial paths that give more both immediately and in the long run.
How can buildings be more sustainable?
Buildings can be more sustainable in a variety of different methods, the possibilities are numerous! One can implement green commercial building materials, construction methods, techniques or even comply to building efficiency ratings!
Building Efficiency Ratings
There are certain building efficiency organizations available that provide guidelines for producing green or energy efficient buildings. They provide ratings in accordance to how far a building can go to achieve green methods. Here a few well known ones:
- LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design is an organization that offers rating levels that range from Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum.
- The Living Building Challenge: uses seven performance categories known as Petals, which branch off into 20 Imperatives. Petals in turn hold categories of Place, Water, Energy, Health, Happiness, Materials, Equity and Beauty.
- WELL, also known as The WELL Building Standard, is a third-party certified by Green Business Certification INC or GBCI.
How can you improve buildings?
Here are a few areas that can be improved for building efficiency, some even offer a few examples that can be taken into consideration.
- Site Selection: have the building be placed in an area with already existing infrastructure to save on resources and money.
- Design: have the building meet LEED or other building efficiency organisational standards.
- Electronics, Computers, and Office Equipment: there are many Smart options out there as well as appliance brands such as Energy Star which offer energy efficient standards.
- Renewable Energy Sources: grid tied solar photovoltaic panels can power lighting, appliances, hot water and heating and cooling systems. A small wind grid can be connected to your power provider or even off grid which can lower your electric bill by 50-90%. Micro hydropower can transform the energy of flowing water to rotational energy and finally electricity.
- High Efficiency Water Heaters
- Heating & Cooling Systems
- Ventilation: natural ventilation is the lowest cost option for energy efficient cooling of a building. Energy recovery ventilation in turn minimizes energy costs while providing controlled ventilation.
- Wall Assembly: s continuous layer of insulation (CI) around a building increases the R-value of the structure and rids itself of condensation. Structural insulated panels can save 50% of energy costs.
- Roof: metal roofs, cool roof coatings or even a Foam Roof (among other various options) can provide UV protection and resistance to leaks all while have life expectancy of at least 50 years!
- Water Efficient Plumbing: pex pipes don’t collect sediment build up and are more durable than copper pipes yet last just as long.
What are the advantages of green building?
- Health & Work Performance: Improvements in air quality can increase performance by 8%, employees in a green and well ventilated building show 101% increase in cognitive abilities and offices with windows can allow for an average of 46 minutes more of sleep.
- Reduced Costs:
- Per business level: utility bills are significantly lowered, there are lower construction costs and higher property values for building developers.
- Global level: energy spending can be reduced from €280-€410 billion ($313.6-$459.2)
- Increased Property Value: owners of green buildings have a 7% increase of asset value over traditional counterparts.
- Environmental: reduces greenhouse gases, energy and water consumption.
To increase building efficiency in Pittsburgh, PA call 412-256-8050 with Great Lakes Commercial Roofing! We offer swift and cost-effective roofing for your commercial or residential property!