Shift to Green | Daily News


Shift to Green

Green buildings, as many know, have less negative impact on the environment than standard buildings. Their construction minimizes on-site grading, saves natural resources by using alternative building materials, and recycles construction waste rather than sending truck after truck to landfills. A majority of a green building’s interior spaces have natural lighting and outdoor views, while highly efficient HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning) systems and low-VOC (volatile organic compound) materials like paint, flooring, and furniture create a superior indoor air quality. In fact, the owners of standard buildings face massive obsolescence. They must act now to protect their investments.

Soon, financial institutions and investors will use new valuation methodologies to quantify important green building factors like productivity and long-term life cycle costs when determining real estate values. Yet, building green is no longer a pricey experiment; just about any company can do it on a standard budget by implementing the following rules.

Focus on the Big Picture

To launch a successful green planning and design process, it’s important to hire the right project team members: architects, engineers, contractors, and consultants who are knowledgeable about the broad spectrum of green design tools and technologies and who have experience planning and constructing a variety of green facilities. Team members who are unfamiliar with green will often resist any deviation from standard design principles, building materials, and construction processes. They will make mistakes on everything from the amount of insulation needed to the selection of interior components like nontoxic flooring, therefore limiting the building’s sustainability and having a negative impact on the budget.

Choose a Sustainable Site

If a building or a business campus is going to be truly green, it cannot be constructed on prime farmland, parkland, a historic or prehistoric site, or the habitat of an endangered species, nor can it be built within 100 feet of wetlands. Ideal locations for sustainable development include in-fill properties like parking lots and vacant lots, redevelopment sites like rail yards, and remediated brownfields. By choosing such locations, companies avoid contributing to sprawl and the degradation of environmentally significant sites, often while being near services they need.

Do the Math

To complete a successful green building on a standard budget, the project team must apply a cost/benefit analysis to each component before allocating funding. For instance, a green roof costs more than a standard roof to install, but it brings a larger return on investment because it lasts years longer and provides more benefits, particularly storm water management and lower energy costs.

Make the Site Plan Work for You

Site planning can minimize the amount of on-site infrastructure like roads and parking lots, reduce grading and other earthwork, limit erosion, maximize sediment control, and provide easy access to public transportation—all of which will earn LEED points, lower construction costs, and reduce the facility and infrastructure footprint.

Design for Greater Green

Companies can use a wide variety of techniques to cost-effectively design a green building. A long and narrow building shape, for example, maximizes natural lighting and ventilation for workers. Locating fixed elements like stairs, mechanical systems, and restrooms at the building’s core creates a flexible and open perimeter, which also allows daylight to reach work areas. Operable windows and skylights enable natural ventilation in temperate weather. Windows with low-E (low-emission) glazing minimize interior solar heat gain and glare.

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