A focus on sustainable building
Today’s smart architects and contractors know that whenever possible buildings should be designed and built green, but not everyone knows what determines a "green" space. How do you sustain a focus on sustainable building in a still-weakened economy? Here are the necessary steps and best practices for maintaining the momentum and keeping the sustainable building movement growing strong.
Best Practices for Sustainable Building
1. Think of the Whole Project. Sustainability is about end-use, how a building functions for occupants within the community. Experts need to be involved from day one to work with architects and builders to develop the project as a team. Business needs must be determined to ensure they are effectively and clearly communicated to the team. Determining these needs ahead of time ensures all team members are able to assess different sites, communities, lots, and existing buildings when looking for the best fit.
2. User-Based Planning. Construction utilities and internet connectivity must be added in the beginning to schematics, but technology and building needs should also be considered. Technology can shape the way a building is used and how people work and live in it. By focusing on the building’s future use, the planners can help identify early cost-savings, better floor plans and tighter specifications.
3. Environmental Specifications. It is important to look at the complete picture of a building or new site when determining where to spend money for environmental and energy efficiency investments. In many buildings, especially single story brick buildings, the largest source of energy loss is through the walls as this is the largest surface area exposed to the exterior. Solar panels have a lot of sex appeal and show a commitment to “going green,” but cost to benefit ratio is not as high as some of the less visible upgrades. Spray foaming block walls to a depth of 2.5 inches can increase the R value (measurement of thermal resistance) by 500 percent, and this depth of foam also qualifies as a vapor barrier which prevents mold and condensation.
If the goal early on is to lower expenses associated with running the building, the architect and AV design partner (both should be involved early) can work together to design a space that utilizes and incorporates the natural resources of the site such as lots of sun, tree cover and orientation. For example, Spye Group’s newly remodeled building has dropped the lighting bill more than 50 percent due to installing many large windows and a lighting system that combines natural light with artificial light to obtain an optimal level in each office.
4. Integrated Design. An emerging trend in sustainable building is integrating interior aesthetics, high performance technologies and environmentally-focused specifications to create a space built and tailored to exactly fit a user's needs.
Sustainability can also be measured as the optimal benefit of a space, not just a reduction in expenses as compared to the same square footage of another building. By incorporating technology and smart design into a building, a company may obtain more from employees, be more efficient, create more products and sell at a higher margin.
In addition, if a building is designed to grow with a company (designing it for the future) there will be unmeasureable savings when upgrading technology, operating the business there for many more years than someone who cut corners at the beginning and has to move or do a major remodel.
Founder and President, Paul Krumrich developed and launched Spyeglass in 2002. Krumrich has established Spyeglass as the industry leader in rear projection displays and a forerunner in the digital signage industry. Krumrich has since acquired other exclusive partnerships for Spyeglass and is now concentrating on expanding Spyeglass into the software and content side of the digital signage industry. Prior to 2002, Krumrich enjoyed a successful tenure at MTS Systems as a Design Engineer, and at ILX Lightwave in Business Development.
image: HansErmers via Flickr cc (some rights reserved)