Rising global environmental awareness is influencing various industries. Consumers are searching for carbon-reduction methods, using their purchasing power to improve ecological conditions. Eco-consumerism places sustainability-enhancing demands on businesses and pushes them to make emission-reduction improvements. Companies are adopting green practices to improve conservation efforts and remain competitive in their industries. They may begin shrinking their carbon footprints by enhancing the sustainability of commercial buildings like office spaces and manufacturing facilities.
Where Does a Building’s Pollution Come From?
Commercial buildings use the highest amounts of energy to support their heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. The devices consume nearly 35% of a commercial structure’s power supply.
Lighting consumes the second-highest quantity of energy, using about 17% of the supply. Most global power derives from fossil fuels, like coal and natural gas. During combustion, the energy sources release greenhouse gases into the environment.
When the gases invade the atmosphere, they limit Earth’s ability to create and maintain life-sufficient surface temperatures. Water exploitation also interferes with a building’s sustainability. Overconsuming freshwater sources may contribute to resource depletion.
Individuals can minimize the emissions and resource exploitation associated with their buildings by adding eco-friendly appliances, features and materials. When business owners invest in sustainable building upgrades, they can shrink their company’s carbon footprint and meet consumers’ needs.
1. Install Renewable Energy Systems
An effective way to produce a sustainable commercial building is by adding renewable energy systems. Photovoltaic (PV) rooftop solar panels create emission-free electricity on-site, minimizing a company’s emissions. The technology also delivers the most affordable energy source on the market and helps businesses save money on their utilities.
2. Purchase Rainwater Harvesting Systems
Construction professionals can also add rainwater harvesting systems to a commercial building, decreasing reliance on the conventional water supply. The technology collects stormwater in barrels and transfers it to an irrigation device or through a filtration system. After water moves through a purification structure, the technology pumps it into faucets, showerheads, hoses and water fountains.
Business owners can reduce water exploitation when using a rainwater harvesting system. They may also conserve the city supply, decreasing dehydration levels.
3. Install Sustainable Weatherization Materials
A business owner can also develop a sustainable commercial building by adding sustainable weatherization materials. Weatherizing a structure increases its stability and longevity, reducing waste production over time. Environmental engineers created fiber cement panels using reclaimed water to minimize resource exploitation.
The panels are also recyclable, supporting a circular economy and reducing mining pollution. Water- and windproof materials additionally improve a building’s sustainability by supporting HVAC efficiency.
4. Add Cool Roofs
Builders develop conventional roofs from asphalt and other dark materials. Solar radiation can raise a roof’s temperature in the summer, making HVAC systems work harder to cool a building. Cool roofs derive from light-colored, reflective materials supporting thermal emittance.
On high-temperature days, conventional roofs absorb 54 F more heat compared to cool roofs. Business owners can prevent urban heat islands by installing sustainable roofing materials, decreasing water displacement and preserving biodiversity.
5. Utilize the Modular Construction Method
Individuals can also develop sustainable commercial buildings using modular construction. Structural components are created in a controlled environment rather than on-site. Developing multiple modules in one place helps construction professionals repurpose unused or recycled materials.
This construction method also decreases emissions by increasing dry material use. Some facilities additionally use carbon-capturing technology to collect and filter pollution before it reaches the atmosphere. Once builders develop all modules, they transport them to the construction site in one trip, minimizing transportation-related emissions.
Future Technologies Supporting a Sustainable Commercial Building
Environmental engineers and scientists are developing green technologies and improving the sustainability of construction and building maintenance. These techniques help the planet in the long term and ensure the structures have a positive environmental impact.
Jane is the Editor-in-Chief of Environment.co and an environmental writer covering green technology, sustainability and environmental news.