What Are Sustainable Buildings?
Efficient, sustainable buildings take their natural environment, resources, and energy into account. These buildings focus on this mindful framework when constructing, sourcing materials, and harvesting natural energy and resources.
This sustainability and efficiency model focuses on utilizing the natural environment throughout construction and is also mindful of the life of the building. Sustainable construction works to harvest and recycle its energy and water.
Seven Characteristics of Energy Efficient Buildings
1. Solar Tempering
Solar tempering is the idea of using the sun’s presence to control the temperature in your building. Properly solar tempering your building begins at conception. You’ll need to evaluate the land you are building on and determine the proper position of your building to maximize the sun’s rays in the colder months and lessen its heat in the warmer months.
Beyond proper positioning, another tempering component includes building design. Building design utilizes overhangs, window positioning, and the natural landscape to help effectively utilize or distort the sun’s rays.
2. Super-Seal and Super-Insulate the Building Envelope
The building envelope is the entire exterior of your building. The weak points in this envelope include doorways and windows that, when properly sealed, help to minimize airflow. Additionally, a dense and green insulation can further decrease airflow, making your construction more energy efficient. These two approaches can be the most cost-effective practices employed when building an energy efficient edifice.
3. Well Insulated Windows and Doors
Super sealing and insulating your building envelope, while effective, can be severely hindered by sub-par windows and doors. Highly efficient and well-insulated windows and doors are a necessary investment when seeking to build an energy efficient building.
4. Energy Efficient Fresh Air Supply
Once your building has been insulated and sealed, there will be minimal fresh airflow throughout the building. Indoor air pollutants can be two to five times higher than outdoor pollutants, and unless properly addressed with a high-quality and energy efficient air supply system, can be detrimental to your health.
5. Efficient HVAC System
Many traditional HVAC systems include central forced air or heat pump systems. These systems are often more expensive and use more energy. A more efficient and cost-effective system is a ductless heat pump, as they are smaller, more adaptable units and utilize a smaller amount of energy as they focus on heating/cooling smaller spaces.
6. Sustainable Water Heating
There are many sustainable water heating solutions. Among the most favorable and green include the heat pump water heater and also the tankless water heater. Both solutions use less energy and don’t rely as much on fossil fuels.
7. Use of Renewable Energy
There are many different forms of renewable energy that are effective when building an energy-efficient and sustainable building. Among the most common forms of energy that have been developed and adapted for widespread use include solar energy, wind power, and hydropower.
Depending on your local environment, you’ll be able to better assess which renewable energy is right for your needs. Often, a hybrid model is the most logical as it helps to ensure continual power.
Why is it Important to Make Sustainable Buildings?
Sustainable buildings are essential for making our environment and earth cleaner and capable of supporting life for years to come. With an estimated 8 billion people populating the earth, humans have the greatest impact on the health of the planet. Just like it’s essential to treat your body properly, we must also do the same for the earth.
- Negative Impact: The negative impact humans have on the earth ranges from pollution to deforestation to the burning of fossil fuels. This mistreatment of our physical environment has led to climate change, soil erosion and soil nutrient depletion, undrinkable water, and poor air quality.
- Positive Impact: Just like humans have the ability to impact the earth in a negative way, they also have the ability to impact it in a positive way. By making conscious decisions to utilize the natural resources that are already abundant and renewable, humans have the ability to prolong the health of the earth and potentially reverse the negative impact that centuries of ill-treatment have produced.
Incentivizing Building Energy Efficiency
To help incentivize the creation of energy efficient buildings, different programs and monetary rewards have been promised. The recent passage of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 in the United States has cast a spotlight on these incentives, with promised rebates, tax credits, and savings programs.
Ways You Can Make Your Current Building More Sustainable
If your business is already occupying a building that hasn’t adopted measures of efficiency and sustainability, it’s not too late. There are many ways to start doing your part in caring for the earth. These measures range from simple and cost efficient to more extreme.
The more individuals that begin to take these green measures seriously and apply them, the greater the impact will be on our environment. Although you may just be one person or one business, progressing to better decisions for the environment leads to greater outcomes.
- Change to smart lighting with LED lights
- Change your building’s water consumption with slow flow faucets
- Do preventative maintenance to prolong assets and tools
- Use clean/green cleaning to cut down on pollution
- Use energy efficient electrical sockets to reduce energy consumption
- Install solar to harvest natural energy from the sun
- Harvest rainwater
- Recycle gray water
These solutions, when applied by multiple businesses and organizations, can begin to make a real change in our society and environment.
Across the world, companies are implementing efficient and sustainable measures in their buildings to do their part for the environment. There’s a standard that has been established to highlight the buildings that are key leaders in adapting these green measures.
These buildings qualify for a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. Buildings that are LEED certified are recognized globally for their sustainability efforts.
There are varying degrees of LEED certification that depend on how many measures have been taken to create a more sustainable building. When a building is LEED certified, they have created the groundwork to build healthy, efficient, and cost-saving buildings that benefit not only Earth, but humanity as well.
Hokanson Companies: Your Top Choice for Sustainable Buildings
Our planet has provided us with many resources. As a society, many have recognized that although many of the resources are abundant, many are not, and we must better prepare for the future. Another aspect that a conscientious society should consider includes finding renewable energy sources.
By utilizing the techniques and methods that have been developed to make our buildings more sustainable and environmentally conscious, we can build a better future together.
When you partner with Hokanson Companies, you can start to make a positive impact on our world. By working with us to design, build, construct, remodel, and implement these solutions, we can build sustainable projects together.