BUILDING WITH A PURPOSE: HOW TO MAKE YOUR NEXT DEVELOPMENT PROJECT SUSTAINABLE
With climate change at the forefront of global issues, real estate developers and investors are beginning to recognize the importance of sustainable construction. Not only does it benefit the environment, but it can also create cost savings and opportunities for social impact within communities. In fact, sustainable buildings are becoming increasingly popular with tenants and investors alike. But what does it take to make a construction project truly sustainable? In this article, we’ll explore the key elements that will not only make your next project more eco-friendly, but also more attractive to investors and tenants alike.
DURING CONCEPTUAL DESIGN
During the conceptual design phase of a construction project, architects and designers must consider various sustainable design principles that can significantly impact the overall sustainability of the building. One of the critical factors to consider is the building form, which should be determined by the climate type in which the building will be located. The building’s form and orientation can impact the building’s energy efficiency, daylighting, and thermal comfort.
Solar orientation is also a crucial factor in sustainable design. Buildings should be designed to maximize natural light and heat, which can help reduce energy consumption and improve indoor comfort. For instance, in the northern hemisphere, the south-facing side of the building should have more windows to allow maximum sunlight during the winter months, while in the southern hemisphere, the north-facing side should have more windows to allow sunlight during the winter.
Passive daylighting is another essential aspect of sustainable design. This design principle involves incorporating features such as large windows and skylights into the building’s design to allow natural light to illuminate indoor spaces. This reduces the need for artificial lighting and heating, leading to significant energy savings. By taking advantage of natural daylight, a building’s energy consumption can be reduced, and the overall sustainability of the project can be improved.
The thermal envelope is a crucial component of a sustainable building. It not only helps to reduce energy consumption and lower utility bills, but it also contributes to the overall comfort of the building’s occupants. To achieve a well-insulated and sealed thermal envelope, it is important to use high-quality materials and techniques during construction.
At AVLV, we recommend using batt insulation combined with continuous rigid insulation Zip R sheathing under the slab and outside studs to ensure optimal insulation. This combination creates an air barrier that minimizes heat transfer and prevents air leakage, which can be a major source of energy loss.
In addition to insulation, triple pane windows can also help to improve the thermal envelope. These windows provide better insulation than double-pane windows, reducing heat loss and helping to maintain a consistent indoor temperature. By improving the thermal envelope, a building can significantly reduce its energy consumption and improve its overall sustainability.
Energy efficiency is an important factor in making your next construction project sustainable. Not only does it help reduce energy usage and costs, but it also contributes to a more comfortable living environment. One way to achieve energy efficiency is by incorporating insulation into the building’s design. This helps regulate temperature, reducing the need for heating and cooling systems. High-efficiency windows are also important in maintaining energy efficiency. These windows are designed to reduce heat loss during the winter and minimize heat gain during the summer.
Another way to increase energy efficiency is by incorporating Energy Recovery Ventilators (ERVs) into the design. ERVs are mechanical systems that exchange stale indoor air with fresh outdoor air, while also transferring heat or coolness from the outgoing air to the incoming air. This helps to maintain the temperature of the building while reducing energy consumption.
Heat pumps are another energy-efficient system that can be used for both heating and cooling purposes. They work by transferring heat from one area to another, rather than creating heat through combustion. This makes them more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly.
In addition to these systems, tankless electric water heaters, LED lights, and Energy Star appliances can also help reduce energy usage and costs. By incorporating these energy-efficient design features into your next construction project, you can create a sustainable building that is both cost-effective and environmentally friendly.
Renewable energy is a critical aspect of sustainable construction. By utilizing renewable energy sources, buildings can greatly reduce their carbon footprint and reliance on non-renewable energy sources. One popular renewable energy source is solar energy. Solar panels can be installed on the roof or mounted on the ground to capture sunlight and convert it into electricity to power the building’s heating, cooling, and electrical systems.
In addition to solar, wind turbines can also be used to generate electricity for the building. Wind turbines can be installed on the roof or on the ground, depending on the location and available space. Geothermal systems, which utilize the heat from the Earth, can also be used for larger multifamily buildings to provide energy for heating and cooling. By incorporating renewable energy sources into the building’s design, developers can create a more sustainable and environmentally friendly construction project.
Green infrastructure refers to natural or semi-natural systems that are designed to mimic natural processes and provide ecological benefits in urban environments. Implementing green infrastructure elements such as green roofs and walls can help to reduce energy usage, mitigate stormwater runoff, and provide insulation.
Green roofs, for example, are vegetated roof systems that are designed to cover a building’s roof surface. According to EPA, Green roof temperatures can be 30–40°F lower than those of conventional roofs and can reduce city-wide ambient temperatures by up to 5°F. Additionally, they can improve air quality, lower urban heat island effects, and increase the lifespan of the roof. Green roofs absorb and filter rainwater, which can reduce the demand on stormwater management systems. Additionally, green roofs can provide insulation, which can reduce heating and cooling costs.
Street and yard trees can also play an important role in sustainable construction. Trees can reduce the amount of heat that is absorbed by buildings and reduce the energy required for cooling. Trees can also help to absorb carbon dioxide, which can help to mitigate the effects of climate change.
Rain gardens and pervious surfaces can also be used to filter stormwater runoff and reduce the need for traditional drainage systems. Rain gardens are shallow, vegetated depressions that collect and absorb stormwater runoff. Pervious surfaces are surfaces that allow rainwater to pass through, such as permeable pavement or gravel. These surfaces can help to reduce the amount of stormwater runoff and help to recharge groundwater supplies.
Implementing these green infrastructure elements can have a significant positive impact on the environment and contribute to the overall sustainability of a construction project.
Using sustainable building materials is an essential component of sustainable construction. Choosing environmentally friendly materials, such as recycled steel, bamboo, reclaimed wood, and low-VOC paint can help reduce the environmental impact of the building. Low-VOC paint contains fewer harmful chemicals than traditional paint and can improve indoor air quality. Reclaimed wood and recycled steel are more sustainable alternatives to new materials because they do not require the extraction of new resources.
There are also emerging materials that are environmentally friendly, such as mycelium-based materials and recycled plastic lumber. Mycelium-based materials are grown from fungi and can be used for insulation and other building applications. Recycled plastic lumber is a durable material made from recycled plastic that can be used for decking and other applications.
Considering the lifecycle of the building is also important. This involves assessing the long-term environmental impact of the building, such as its ability to be reused or recycled at the end of its lifecycle. Choosing materials that are easily recyclable or that can be reused in other projects can greatly reduce the environmental impact of the building. Additionally, using modular building techniques can make it easier to dismantle and recycle the building materials when the building is no longer in use.
In conclusion, sustainable construction is a crucial aspect of our efforts to address climate change and create a more sustainable future. By implementing sustainable design principles, improving the thermal envelope, increasing energy efficiency, utilizing renewable energy sources, and incorporating green infrastructure, developers can create buildings that are not only cost-effective and environmentally friendly but also offer opportunities for social and sustainable impact within the community. At AVLV, we are committed to helping real estate developers and investors achieve their sustainable building goals. Contact us today to learn more about our cost-effective services and how we can help you build sustainably while making a positive impact on the environment and the community.
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