The University of California defines sustainability as the act of taking into account environmental health, social equity, and economic vitality; this results in thriving communities that can be passed on for generations. Sustainable practices involve a systematic approach to ensure the health of humans, the environment, and the economy. It presumes that our resources are limited and should be used wisely to leave something behind for the younger generations.
Sustainability is a top priority for organizations like the Environmental Protection Agency. EPA’s specific function is to protect the health of the environment, and ultimately, human survival. In commercial buildings, EPA awards ENERGY STAR to buildings that employ energy-efficient practices during the build.
To be an energy-efficient, sustainable commercial building, several elements come into play; we’ll take a look at these elements one by one.
Materials can greatly influence energy efficiency in a building. For instance, using spray foam is a way to minimize heat loss in a commercial building. This results in lesser use of energy, ultimately helping the environment.
Other examples of eco-friendly building materials are reclaimed wood, bamboo, and insulated concrete forms. These materials come from renewable resources. They also contribute less to pollution, which makes for a healthier planet.
Reclaimed wood, for instance, is a repurposed material used for construction. It has multiple uses, like flooring and furniture. In addition to serving the environment well, reclaimed wood adds to a building’s rustic and historic appeal.
On the other hand, bamboo is a fast-growing resource; it is a sturdy material as well. Meanwhile, recycled steel is used in both commercial and residential construction for its durability. It is sustainable because it uses old steel from recycled items.
Use of Architectural Films
An architectural firm is a window film that serves both form and function. Made of strong polyester laminate, it improves the look of a structure and controls the passage of heat within a building. Hence, insulation is improved, adding to a building’s energy efficiency.
The use of an architectural film can reduce a business’ electricity bill. It works by regulating the entrance and exit of hot and cold temperatures within a building. In addition, this window film can prevent the entry of ultraviolet rays into a building, protecting the flooring and furniture of a building. Shielding employees from harmful UV rays is also one of its benefits.
On top of contributing to a build’s sustainability, an architectural film can make windows more durable by adding an extra layer of protection; an extra layer of film in a window can prevent it from easily breaking.
Prefabricated construction is a strategy that involves constructing off-site; these preconstructed materials are then transported on-site to finally complete a build. Using prefabrication construction methods has a lot of benefits. On top of this is its positive impact on the environment.
Under prefabricated construction is modular construction. With modular construction, an entire building is created off-site. It is created indoors, usually within a factory, reduces air pollution, and can even use recycled materials during the build. As modular construction is done in a controlled environment, it is usually faster; the faster a construction project is completed, the lesser its negative environmental impact is.
Off-site construction has a lot of benefits. For instance, a manufacturer or building can easily control the waste being produced during the build. In a factory setting, inventory is easily done, allowing unused materials for a new construction project. This is great in reducing waste thrown in landfills all over the US and around the globe.
In addition, working in a controlled environment protects the materials from getting wet, trapping moisture, and getting damaged. This also helps in reducing waste during construction.
Using Renewable Energy
To generate electricity, the traditional way is to use fossil fuels. Yet as the years pass, fossil fuels are getting depleted. This is why transitioning to renewable energy resources is essential. One example of a renewable energy resource is solar energy.
Solar energy has a lot of benefits when used in commercial buildings. When a business invests in solar power, great returns are expected. It can reduce a business’ operating cost by limiting the use of electricity. Electricity bills are often fluctuating, and this unpredictability can impact a business’ operating costs. The use of solar panels can be a solution to this unpredictability; the sun gives free energy as a readily available source.
Solar panels can also add to a property’s value. As it gains in popularity, more and more future buyers see the value of having a solar panel in a property. In addition, having solar panels give a 26% federal tax credit when installed from 2019 onward.
To top it all off, solar panels are increasingly becoming more affordable. The cost of having solar panels is 70 percent lower than it was ten years ago. With all these benefits, there is no reason why commercial buildings wouldn’t make the switch.