Building ‘green’

October 30, 2016

When constructing a new building, going green isn’t just an option anymore, it’s a necessity. These days there are so many important reasons for us to be as green as we can be in all areas, and creating new buildings is no exception. With new technology and innovations coming out all of the time, going green is easier than you’d think.

There is plenty of support behind the green initiative from government bodies. In fact, the City of Melbourne began retrofitting a huge two-thirds of the cities buildings in a sustainability initiative that began in 2010. The purpose of this movement is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 38%.

Older buildings were constructed back in a time when the impact on the environment wasn’t really taken into consideration, and so they are not running as efficiently as they could be if they were built today. However, the world can’t wait for each non-green building to get to the end of its life span before being upgraded to our modern sustainability needs. This is why retrofitting has become a big thing, as it begins helping save the environment immediately. For the building owners, this is good news. They end up with a building that is better for the environment, save money on bills and overall the capital of the property will increase.

The only downside to retrofitting a building to be more green is the cost upfront. But you will gain the initial outlay back through these unexpected benefits of going green:

  • As well as pushing the value of the building up when you sell it in the long term, you can also charge more rent in the short term. Office spaces that are running more efficiently can be leased at higher rates than offices that aren’t.
  • You will also save money on staff. If you have maximised the quality of the indoor air, thermals and lighting you will find an uplift in the productivity and health of staff. As the airflow is improved it will reduce the amount of moisture that sits in the building, therefore reducing the amount of virus, bacteria and mould growth, which in turn decreases the amount of sick days taken by staff.

There is an Australia-wide rating system in place to help companies recognise their impact on the environment. The rating system sets a standard of measurement for the industry, and brings everyone onto the same page for better understanding.

For anyone ready to start building from scratch, it is best to build as green as possible now, and save yourself the time and money of retrofitting down the track. Here are some tips for builders to create green buildings from scratch:

Choose the right partners

There are a lot of different companies and workers involved in the construction of a building. All the way from the planning and drawing until the keys are handed over to the owner. At each step, engage with partners who are environmentally conscious so you can be sure that you are staying green at every level. For example, when you are looking into rubbish removal in Melbourne, choose a skip bin company who will endeavour to recycle as much of the waste as possible, rather than just sending it to landfill. Combined Bin Hire proudly recycles 85% of all waste, so you know you are doing your part for the environment even at the stage of disposing of building materials and other waste.

Make the most out of natural light

In building design terms, it is called ‘daylighting’. This is where you design the building with natural light in mind, controlling it in a way where you will be able to reduce electric lighting in the workspace. A daylighting system uses more than windows and skylights, it is an entire network of lighting that responds to the amount of light in the room and effectively adjusts the electric component accordingly. Daylighting also takes into consideration the impact of too much glare or heat caused by direct sun and so shading is often integrated into the system. Overall, it is claimed that up to a third of your energy bill will be saved by using this type of design in your office building.

Natural ventilation

Before air conditioning arrived on the scene, buildings were created with ventilation in mind as there wasn’t really any other options for cooling a place down. Then came the AC and people relied on this, rather than design, to be able to control the climate of an office space. ‘Green’ air flow uses natural wind and buoyancy to move through a building, as opposed to the ventilation needing to be fan-forced. For this to work, the design needs to include windows at each end of the building as well as a circuit for the air to follow, with openings between rooms so as not to disrupt the flow.