From the first form of shelter to modern society, the built environment has come a long way. However, this has come with a cost to both the environment and the quality of life. As more buildings begin to be built around the world, natural context begins to become overtaken. Limiting greenspace for individuals to enjoy while taxing the environment with increased emissions and pollution. Though, with the implementation of sustainable alternatives (in new construction and existing properties) life within nature can restored and a future on earth can be preserved.
Globally, the built environment and construction sector accounts for nearly 40% of the total greenhouse gas emissions. This includes but is not limited to, material extraction, material transportation, machinery usage, and operational usage (energy, cooling, heating, etc.). In addition, buildings contribute pollutants into local waterways through stormwater run-off. To combat these environmental issues, cities such as Toronto, Canada have reformed building bylaws to require a greener approach within new construction. For example, buildings with a certain amount of roof area are required to designate 20-60% of roof space to a green roof. However, older buildings nearing the age of renovation can also implement many strategies to bring nature closer to their occupants. These strategies (listed below) improve the quality of life, longevity of life, and comfort for building occupants while improving building performance.
10 Sustainable Strategies
- Automatic Illumination
- Install automatic light sensors to reduce the buildings overall energy consumption.
- Recommended use: corridors, parking structure, etc.
- Efficient Fixtures
- Install efficient fixtures to reduce the overall energy and water consumption used within the building.
- Recommended use: light fixtures, water closet, faucet, mechanical systems, etc.
- Naturally shade windows/glazing using coniferous trees to reduce energy consumption.
- Recommended used: southern facing windows (Northern Hemisphere)
- Grey Collection system
- Install a grey collection system to harvest reusable grey water and reduce potable water consumption.
- Recommended use: irrigation purposes, water closets
- Indoor Greenery
- Installation of greenery or a greenspace within a building promotes air quality and morale of occupants.
- Recommended use: lobby space, gathering space, community area, etc.
- Permeable Paving
- Install permeable paving in lieu of regular hardscape to limit stormwater run-off from entering waterways.
- Recommended use: sidewalk, patio, etc.
- Photovoltaic Paneling
- Install solar panels to harvest sunlight (renewable energy) and reduce the buildings overall energy consumption.
- Recommended use: south-facing sloped roofs (Northern Hemisphere), lowsloped roof.
- Install skylights to utilize natural daylight as illumination and reduce the buildings overall energy consumption.
- Recommended use: northern facing roof surface (Northern-Hemisphere)
- Solar Heating
- Install a solar heat collection system to naturally heat your building during the cold winter months and reduce the buildings overall energy consumption.
- Recommended use: southern facing roof surface (Northern Hemisphere)
- Sustainable Materials and Finishes
- Utilize renewable and/or sustainable materials and finishes to reduce off-gas and embodied carbon while promoting the health of the building occupants and the environment.
- Recommended use: carpet, furnishings, paint, etc.
With the environment on the brink of maximum wear and tear, the future of the built environment starts now. Furthermore, It is understandable that implementing all the above may not be feasible within your next project. However, employing just one sustainable strategy mentioned can go a long way when reducing global emissions and improving the well-being of the building occupants.
Our certified Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) professionals, stand ready to assist you in achieving your next greener construction project, from concepts to completion.