Green Building Design
According to environmental designer Maggie Wood, "Green is the new black." Green building has become so popular that virtually every construction company has begun using the word "green" in their advertising campaigns. However, that doesn't mean that they all actually adhere to the highest standards of green building practices. When seeking to build or remodel their buildings to make them greener and healthier, small business owners should always check for contractors' certifications. They should also request to see samples of their work as well as speak with former clients regarding the quality of materials and workmanship.
Green Building Materials
Using recycled glass, drywall and steel can result in cost savings as well as benefit the environment. Linoleum made of natural material and renewable resources like bamboo, rubber, and recycled fiber carpets are quickly replacing traditional flooring. High VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints and stains are being replaced by low VOC products. Those products include natural stains and formaldehyde-free glue. Using natural building products can reduce employee turnover as well as saving money on sick days. Employees that work in green buildings report fewer instances of headaches, asthma, and allergies that can be caused by potentially toxic building materials.
Another advance in the green building technology is green roof systems that utilize plants to absorb stormwater and prevent runoff. A green roof offers a number of other benefits as well. They keep the top floor cooler and reduce the impact of direct UV sunlight, which can significantly extend the life of a conventional roof. They also improve air quality by producing oxygen and filtering out pollutants. Many restaurants and hotel owners utilize them for growing gardens, which allows them to offer customers fresh organic vegetables. Energy-efficient windows represent another advance in green home construction. All of these factors contribute, so try to cover as many as you can. Instead of focusing on a single top-notch system, try to incorporate as many eco-friendly improvements as you can. Here's an example how a small business from Brisbane covered many major factors that help our environment and our wallets:
Optimized Lighting - thanks to technology like Solatube and some smart construction and design, the use of sunlight is maximized and artificial lighting is reduced to a minimum
Cooling - There are certain tricks you can use in order to maximize air drift, as well as make sure your insulation is doing its part. If it gets really hot, solar powered roof ventilators can help.
Power - Speaking of power, solar arrays have never been cheaper and more power efficient. Excess energy can either be fed back into the grid or stored for later use if you can afford to invest in a battery solution like Tesla Powerwall or similar.
Water Harvesting & Purification - If you hate rainy days, why not make them work for you? You can use your roof and other free space as a collection point for rainwater, which can be then transferred into bio-retention pits. It then gets filtered by native grasses in order to remove any excess nitrogen or contaminants.
Reduced Operating Costs
Optimizing the use of natural resources to reduce energy costs is just one of the money-saving benefits of green building construction. While it's estimated that the initial cost of green buildings is approximately 2% higher, that investment reaps substantial dividends of up to a 30% savings on heating, cooling and water usage every year. That means that an investment in green building more than pays for itself within a very short time. Over a twenty- year period, Investing just $4 per square foot can yield $58 per square foot in cost savings. Green building materials also cost less to repair and maintain than many traditional types of materials. Finally, green buildings that demonstrate a commitment to preserving the local environment while contributing to the economy command a higher sales price.
Green Design and Construction Projects
One example of a green design and construction is Project Frog. In the beginning, the company manufactured modular buildings that featured natural light that reduced the need for artificial lighting and provided more natural warmth. Offsite manufacturing eliminated virtually all waste of natural resources during the building process. Another benefit was that the buildings could be constructed in a matter of days, rather than weeks or months. Beginning in 2009, under CEO Ann Hand, the company developed a new system that reduced the cost, making their buildings approximately 30% less expensive than traditional buildings. The new system also made the buildings 60% more energy efficient than even the most stringent building code requirements. As a result, Project Frog won 25 building contracts in 2013 and expected that number to increase to 40 by the following year.
Small businesses that show they care for the environment appeal as much to consumers as they do to potential long-term employees. A recent study revealed that 81% of global consumers surveyed have become willing to make sacrifices to preserve the environment. 80% stated that they are willing to buy products from unknown brands that have a strong commitment to corporate social responsibility. All things considered, there's never been a better time for small businesses to invest in the green building.
Source: Smart Cities Dive