July 7, 2022
What are the Green Building Principles and How to Apply Them to Your Space?
Buildings all over the world use different resources (water, energy, etc.), generate waste, and release greenhouse gasses (GHG). The building construction industry generates the second largest amount of waste and greenhouse gasses (35-40%), mainly during the construction and later through lighting and air conditioning. This is why real estate is an important industry in advancing the globe’s focus on sustainability.
As a manager, investor, or entrepreneur in the property market, you should not be left behind in the efforts to promote sustainability. It is time to make your building green. To do this, one of the most important things is to understand the green building principles.
Keep reading to learn what green building is all about, main principles, and how to apply them.
What is a Green Building?
Before looking at the main principles of green building, let’s start by determining what it is. A green building is a type of property that, in its design, construction, and operations, helps to reduce or eliminate the negative impacts on the climate and natural environment. With the expanded focus on sustainability, green buildings for a real estate company should also help to enhance the social and governance consideration.
Think of a green building as a complete entity with unique opportunities that you can utilize to improve the planet. So, what can you do to improve sustainability and help address the challenges facing the planet, from global warming to the loss of biodiversity?
What are the Benefits of Green Buildings?
The most notable advantage of green buildings is that they are healthier for occupants. Most people who live in green buildings are also more productive compared to counterparts who live in less sustainable structures. Here are other benefits that you should anticipate for making your premise green:
- Helps to reduce the pressure on resources.
- You incur less in maintenance costs.
- Energy and water efficiency.
- Long lasting.
- Helps to promote community interaction and harmony.
- Allows investors to plan ahead.
- Provides a better connection for building occupants with nature.
- Green buildings come in handy in helping to address the challenge of global warming.
- Crucial for compliance with local and international laws.
- Offers developers, investors, and building occupants the opportunity to make a positive impact on nature.
Green Building Principles and How You Can Apply Them
According to the World Building Council, the definition of a green building and the actions that you can take to make it green depends on a number of things, from location to materials. However, you should be guided by the following principles for better sustainability results.
Optimize the Site Potential
Whether you are designing a new building or retrofitting an aging one, the site design should integrate sustainability-related goals. The idea is to ensure that your real estate factors in the larger built and natural ecosystem for greater sustainability. So, how do you create a sustainable building design? Is it possible to achieve significant rates of energy saving? Here are some suggestions.
First, you should consider creating minimum urban sprawl. This means that you are able to minimize unnecessary destruction of valuable land, open space, and habitats. For example, if you have natural forests next to the proposed site, look for ways of preserving them as opposed to clearing them for real estate building?
If the available area is small, you should target higher-density urban development to preserve valuable land. So, start with a review of the proposed design to determine its effectiveness in reducing interference with existing natural ecosystems. If you are remodeling a building, it is also possible to optimize natural ecosystems or restore them. You might want to add natural trails lined with plants, which can help in both aesthetics and sinking carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Protect and Conserve Water
Although the world is surrounded by a lot of water, only a small portion of it is fresh and ready for drinking. The principle of protecting and conserving water is aimed at reducing the use of this important resource so that more people can access it. A green building should be designed in a manner that allows for water recycling.
If the building is used for commercial purposes, consider adopting every possible method of recycling available water. For example, a commercial real estate business might want to tap all the water coming from its premise and recycle it. If possible, recycle it for consumption, but you can also put it to other uses, such as cleaning and watering plants.
Where recycling is not possible, consider treating the water before releasing it into the natural waterways. This means that it will not negatively impact the natural habitats in the neighborhood. In urban areas, you might want to partner with companies that deal with city wastewater treatment.
Another thing that you can do to conserve water is helping to protect the catchment areas. So, check for projects that are supporting the conservation of forests or re-afforestation. Remember that this can be either local or international projects. When you improve water access, be it in Singapore, Europe, or Africa, that can be an excellent effort towards sustainability. It will be part of the green building initiative if you can link it to your real estate.
Enhance Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ)
As we indicated earlier, the concept of sustainability is interdisciplinary. This means that even as you improve the natural environment, the people who will work in the buildings must be factored in too. The principle of indoor air quality requires you to ensure that workers will have the right environment. Let's take the case of a residential estate.
The notion of indoor air quality in residential property means that the houses you build should not have harmful materials. For example, the materials should be free from asbestos. If you are renovating older buildings, make sure they are tested for harmful materials. If any harmful material is found, have it removed before allowing occupants in.
You should also design the buildings to support the free flow of natural air. If air conditioning is required, make the doors, windows, and other features air-tight for greater efficiency of your HVAC.
As you focus on air quality, remember to check the applicable laws. In Singapore, for example, you should use code SS 554 of the Workplace Safety and Health Act of 2016. In the United States, on the other hand, the law is a little more specific. The indoor air quality is governed by the Clean Air Act (CAA), which requires the Environmental Protection Agency to outline the National Air Quality Standards (NAAS) for the common pollutants.
Optimize the Use of Materials and Space
The world population is growing pretty fast and is expected to reach nine billion people by 2050. This means that more space and materials will be required to construct buildings. This principle is meant to encourage real estate owners and developers to use and reuse the available materials in the most productive and sustainable manner. If you select the right materials, the building will not only last longer, but it is possible to also reuse them when the houses are decommissioned.
Experts indicate that the right materials can also help to cut down costs associated with maintenance and disposal. The lovely thing about this principle is that there are so many categories of eco-friendly materials that you can use. Good examples include precast concrete slabs, straw bales, recycled plastics, reclaimed wood, and plant-based polyurethane rigid foam.
Optimize Energy Use
One of the biggest threats facing the planet today is global warming, and this principle is aimed at helping to address this threat. It calls for optimization of energy saving in buildings. Indeed, there are a number of methods that you can use when designing or remodeling green buildings.
Use Natural Lighting
If you can design or remodel a building in a way that allows natural light to reach every room, it is possible to cut down energy use by a significant margin. You can do this by ensuring the windows, balconies, or patios face the direction of sun rays. Reflective materials can also help to direct light to the targeted areas.
Shift to LED Lamps
Instead of using the common incandescent lamps, which consume a lot of energy but produce poor quality light, go for LED lighting fixtures. With LED lamps, you are able to achieve about 75% energy saving. The fixtures also produce high-quality radiation and last 25 times longer than incandescent lamps.
To achieve higher energy saving rates from your HVAC system, make sure to install CONTINEWM. When a HVAC system is operating, it generates static electricity/ charges because of friction caused by the moving air. This positive charge disturbs the air movement, increasing the resistance that forces the HVAC to work harder and consume more energy. CONTINEWM can help to address this challenge.
CONTINEWM is always negatively charged, which means that it helps to suppress the creation of positive charges. The result is a smooth flow of air, which ultimately reduces the work done by the HVAC system and pushes down the overall energy consumption. You can cut the energy used by the HVAC by a huge margin by installing CONTINEWM on the front part of the heat exchanger.
This post has demonstrated the main green building principles that every investor, developer, or manager should know. Remember that it is advisable to apply different suggestions recommended in this post to achieve more impressive sustainability goals. For example, combining reusable materials, using CONTINEWM, and shifting to LED lamps can be an excellent option. Also, you should consider working with expert partners, such as Climate Fresk, for support in crafting and implementing your green building strategies.