June 22, 2022

How Can Aging Commercial Buildings be More Sustainable?

Sustainable or green buildings are becoming the norm in every part of Singapore, and, indeed, the entire world's construction projects. The efforts to green buildings are pretty straightforward for new buildings, but what about ageing commercial ones. This post takes a closer look at the main strategies that you can employ to make your aging commercial building more sustainable in Singapore.

Brice Degeyter
Brice Degeyter
Bizsu founder
Commercial Building

What is a Sustainable Building?

Before looking at the methods of making aging commercial buildings, such as offices, more sustainable, let's start by understanding what a green building is. 

A green building is a structure with high efficiency in water, energy, and material use. It also focuses on reducing impacts on health and the environment via design, construction, and maintenance in its lifecycle. The overall idea of sustainability further aims at ensuring the buildings integrate well with the environment so that the current and future generations can enjoy the planetary resources. 

In the case of aging buildings, especially those that were made when the policies and laws on green structures had not been installed, it is important to be more creative to enhance sustainability. For example, you might want to consider remodeling the buildings to clear off harmful materials and install energy management systems. 

The Benefits of Sustainable Buildings

For most offices or building owners, the primary question that might be running through their minds is, “why should you consider going green in the first place?” Here are some unique benefits that you should anticipate from the focus on sustainability in your building. 

  • Improved indoor environment for the building users. This will come in handy in helping to improve the quality of life.
  • Sustainable buildings and offices have lower energy bills. From using energy-saving lamps to taking advantage of natural light strategies, you are sure of cutting down utility bills with a significant margin. 
  • Helps to strengthen the engagement of the building occupants and neighborhood. With the utilization of open spaces and cooperation to build on the concept of sustainability, there will be more interaction and cohesion, which is crucial for healthier communities. 
  • Making the buildings or offices sustainable can be an awesome ESG reporting topic for your company. So, if your building is part of the company's premises or the office is focused on driving sustainability, your stakeholders will be impressed by the efforts to make the premise green. 
  • Crucial in reducing strain and increasing productivity. If your employees work in a strenuous environment, perhaps because of poor lighting or dust, there is a risk of their productivity going low. So, making the environment cleaner and healthier for employees will go a long way in improving their happiness and optimizing productivity. 
  • Crucial to get your business license approved or renewed. In Singapore, and most Asian countries, concerns for workers have become an important factor for licensing authorities. So, making your offices in aging buildings more sustainable can help to reduce the chances of the license getting rejected. 

Expert Strategies for Enhancing the Sustainability of Ageing Buildings

The following are the main strategies that you might want to consider to enhance the sustainability of your office or building. 

Optimize Natural Lighting for Your Offices 

Does your aging building require you to always keep the lamps on? If so, it is not surprising because some of the old buildings might have been designed with a focus on optimizing space as opposed to sustainability. Therefore, you can rethink the building design to take advantage of natural light, which is abundant in Singapore and most Asian countries. 

You might want to redo the windows to make them larger and allow more light to get through. It might also be a good idea to change the roofing and install translucent sheets. With natural light getting into your office, you can cut down the lighting-related bill by a significant margin. 

As you consider remodeling the offices to make them green, provide ample space for people to work outdoors. For example, more people now prefer to enter into business deals when relaxing outdoors, perhaps over a cup of coffee or cocktail. This can also help to pull down the utility bill. 

Insulate Your Office Properly 

In most buildings or offices, heating and air conditioning make up approximately 50% of the power bills. A closer look will reveal that a significant portion of this energy is lost because of the room design. For example, gaps in the window flame and spaces around the doors make the HVAC work harder for longer, pushing up the cost of energy. 

Insulating the buildings can help you to create a microenvironment that is easy to control using your HVAC system. So, check the gaps and materials used in the finishing of the office and, where necessary, have a remodeling expert seal all the gaps. Remember that this does not have to compromise your focus on taking advantage of natural light and air flow. 

Install LED Lamps 

This is another awesome method of making your offices or aging buildings more sustainable. Most incandescent lamps that we grew up with are not energy efficient. If you have these types of lamps all over the office, the energy bill is likely to be pretty high. Instead of getting stuck with these old fixtures, it is time to move on with LED lamps

Unlike traditional lamps, LEDs are highly energy efficient. They use 75% less energy compared to incandescent lamps. They also last for a longer period, implying that you will not need to keep going to the shop for replacements. Additionally, you get high-quality light when using LED lamps. No matter what angle you look at it, LED fixtures come with many benefits. 

Use Smart Energy Management Systems 

Many are the times when people forget to turn off the lights after leaving the restroom or office. Can you imagine the lamps staying on overnight or all weekend? This could easily grow the carbon footprint of the building, office, or person. To avoid this challenge and make your office in Singapore more sustainable, it is time to go tech with smart energy management systems. 

The management system works with sensors that are installed strategically to help turn off or on lamps and HVAC. For example, your office's HVAC, corridor lamps, and restroom lights do not need to be on all the time. So, the system will notice when there is no one, say in the office, and turn off the lamps or HVAC. Therefore, you will never have to worry about forgetting to turn off the lights when leaving the office. 

The smart energy management system can also be used to turn off the HVAC system when the heat or cooling reaches a specific point. Remember to ensure that the energy management system is installed by a professional and that its software is always maintained in top condition. 

Consider Smaller Spaces for Offices 

When it comes to greening an aging building, bigger is not always better. When different departments, perhaps the HR and accounts, share the same office, it means that the entire room will be heated/ cooled even when only one office is working. Imagine a situation when the HR decides to work for three hours on a weekend when all others are away. This means that the entire office will be heated by the HVAC, resulting in a big percentage of the energy getting wasted. 

The better option is to make the offices smaller. Even when you need to work with shared office spaces, consider partitioning them to help reduce the energy associated with heating or cooling.  

Use Continewm on Your HVAC 

This list of the things that you can do to make your aging building sustainable cannot be complete without including the use of Continewm. This is a next-generation device designed to help clear electrostatic disturbance in HVAC systems. The result is enhanced energy saving from your HVAC system. 

When air conditioning is running, it generates static electricity because of friction created by the air passing through. These positive charges disturb the movement of air, compromising the smooth flow. This results in high inefficiency of the system's heat exchange. You can overcome this challenge by installing Continewm, which works in two ways: 

First, it suppresses the generation of positive charges because it is always negatively charged when installed on the front of the heat exchanger. Eliminating or minimizing the static electricity means you increase the efficiency of the HVAC system by a huge margin. 

Continewm is also becoming the go-to device for energy conservation because it also helps with removing bad odor. If the air getting into your offices is laden with “odor components,” which are positively charged, Continewm separates them when it passes through. This helps to further reduce the work your HVAC does to clear dirt and keep rooms healthy. Your electricity bills will also come down significantly. 

This post has highlighted some of the most effective methods of improving the sustainability of aging buildings. Remember that you should consider a combination of methods because there is no one-fits-all model. For example, you might want to combine eco-friendly lighting with Continewm to cut down energy use and improve the health of the commercial building. Also, make sure to review the progress of the selected strategies, make adjustments where possible, and work with experts in sustainability.