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The Best Green Upgrades for Commercial Buildings

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Green buildings are becoming more popular than ever. The market is growing over 14% between 2020 and 2027.

However, green contractors still face some real challenges. They have to plan their designs carefully.

Guidelines for Designing Eco-Friendly Buildings

Designing and developing commercial sustainable real estate is a no-brainer. Green features save money, attract top-quality talent, and ensure the planet remains livable for the foreseeable future. The real challenge is not in convincing developers to incorporate sustainable design, but in offering building solutions that make a significant impact.

This is an especially salient challenge for older buildings that were designed to radically different standards and specifications. With the following upgrades, any commercial property can significantly reduce their energy consumption and environmental impact without a full renovation. They even work with older buildings.

Window Replacement

In industrial and commercial properties, windows serve multiple purposes. They regulate temperature, provide privacy, and also serve as a safety feature. Thick tempered glass is shatterproof and ensures that employees or customers are not harmed if the window’s integrity becomes compromised.

The role of windows in improving energy conservation is something that has only recently been a topic of conversation. For this reason, buildings that were constructed at least 50 years ago contain windows with single-pane glass, which provides minimal insulation.

Replacing single-pane windows with more sustainable dual or triple-pane glass is costly. However, with energy costs on the rise, upgrading windows makes financial sense in the long run.

If a full window replacement isn’t something that they can afford, property owners can consider a more affordable alternative such as window films.

LED Lighting

The ubiquitous fluorescent lighting found in many office spaces has earned a well-deserved bad rap. Overexposure to fluorescent lighting causes a myriad of conditions, including eye strain, headaches, and fatigue.

Even more troubling, fluorescent bulbs contain highly toxic materials. In fact, a broken bulb is considered a hazardous event. Since the lifespan of a fluorescent bulb shortens considerably when the light switch is frequently turned on and off, these products simply don’t fit into the energy-saving plans implemented by modern companies.

Most of the issues posed by fluorescent bulbs can be easily resolved by switching to LED lighting. LEDs use up considerably less energy and have a much longer lifespan than fluorescent lights. Even better, LEDs can offer these advantages without any toxic components.

Since LED lighting mimics the effects of natural light, it offers many of the same benefits, including improved mood and increased concentration.

Best of all, incorporating LED lighting into an already existing light fixture is straightforward and affordable.

SMART HVAC Systems

Heating and cooling costs are two of the largest maintenance expenses for any commercial property.  Utilizing traditional set and forget styles of HVAC systems can cost companies thousands of dollars in unnecessary energy costs.

SMART systems leverage technologies such as internet of things devices, wireless connections, and data analysis to create ideal indoor climates that adjust automatically.

SMART HVAC systems can make instant heating and cooling decisions based on outdoor temperatures and other factors. Systems that are integrated with commercial building access systems can even base decisions on the preferences of each individual employee.

Green Landscaping

By incorporating green features and landscape design, developers can improve a commercial building’s green rating without making a single change to the property itself.

If the existing roof is suitable, adding a green roof garden is a feasible and effective way for reducing a company’s environmental impact. Green roofs counter all sorts of urban ailments.

For example, a rooftop garden can combat the heat island effect, a phenomenon caused by buildings and other manmade structures absorbing ultrahigh amounts of heat. Further, a green roof measuring roughly 20,000 square feet has the capacity to remove more than 9,000 kilograms of carbon emissions from the air every year.

Green spaces are also linked with employee satisfaction and retention.

Sustainable Retrofitting

Retrofitting is a popular option for upgrading older properties for a minimal cost. Property developers and leases can install energy monitoring systems to increase the efficiency of outdated infrastructure.

A series of monitoring devices and a smart, responsive submetering system can hand over more data and control to companies who want to gain more insight into their energy usage.

Even planned maintenance and construction projects can serve as opportunities for sustainable retrofitting. For example, using sustainably sourced and recyclable building materials are an easy swap to incrementally improve the building’s green rating. Likewise, property developers should ensure that all upgrades align with the standards of a reputable sustainability rating system, such as LEED or WELL.

Water Conservation Features

Commercial buildings are responsible for a quarter of all water usage and are a key sector for promoting sustainable use and conservation.

Property developers can take advantage of both design features and technology integration to reduce water consumption. Stormwater management systems can help harvest and repurpose tons of rainwater. Additionally, installing greywater systems that safely utilize wastewater for flushing toilets or irrigating non-edible plants, can also reduce consumption significantly.

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