Going green is more than conservation and wise purchasing. It involves using some smart strategies to minimize a facility’s impact on the environment. A few of the following action items will help you make green a “natural” part of your facility and its management:
• Plan, design, and lay out spaces with flexibility in mind. The ability to adapt areas to meet unforeseen future needs will limit demolition, renovation, and, moreover, disposal of building materials in area landfills.
• Landscape facility grounds with native plants and vegetation and during new construction projects, limit disruption to the site’s native plant and animal species.
• When possible, avoid developing new facilities on greenfield sites. Effectively locate on brownfield sites and in existing buildings when possible.
• Take advantage of passive solar heating, daylighting, and natural ventilation and water systems by orienting buildings on an east-west axis. Likewise, consider area wind patterns.
• Utilize daylighting when possible. Coupled with exterior and interior shading devices, high-performance glazing, and photosensors, natural light can save energy, money, and positively impact building occupants.
• Purchase furniture and interior finishes that have “classic” design elements. Durable products with timeless design will keep facilities from looking dated, limit replacement costs, and cut down on waste.
• Implement a plan to control erosion and sedimentation during construction.
• Locate a building near public transportation to minimize pollution from automobile use.
SOURCES: Governor’s Green Government Council, The State of Pennsylvania (www.gggc.state.pa.us); U.S. Green Building Council, LEED Rating System 2.0.
Let your facility become a green machine with people and systems perfectly calibrated to understand the benefits of thinking environmentally and operating accordingly. Once you get started – hopefully, these five steps will help – don’t stop. Training, evaluation, and constant vigilance will prove to be very beneficial – to the facility, its occupants, the bottom line, and, most importantly, the environment we leave for future generations.
Jana J. Madsen (firstname.lastname@example.org) is senior associate editor at Buildings magazine.