As the new year unfolds, sustainability remains a top concern for business managers and employees. Choosing a green office space is one of the most feasible and effective ways a manager can contribute to the health of their community.

After a manager makes the decision to pursue green real estate, there are many more choices to make. There are several opportunities for the private sector to leverage the benefits of sustainable architecture. 

This article discusses 3 architectural strategies that are integral to fostering a green office space and improving your business.

1. Place Windows Strategically to Conserve Energy

Window-filled properties that receive abundant sunlight are more effective at conserving energy than their conventional counterparts. 

Sunny spaces are also more comfortable for employees. In fact, studies show that workers are more productive if they’re working near a window. 

Once you’ve decided to prioritize natural light, it’s time to consider the optimal locations for windows within your property.

 If you’re located in the northern hemisphere, the south side of your building will receive more sunlight than the north. 

So, you’ll want to place more windows on the south side of your property to maximize sunlight during the winter months. 

Zion Visitors Center, Courtesy of DOE/NREL

Source: Greenpassivesolar.com

In the summer, the sun is higher in the sky and won’t shine directly through those windows. You can place overhangs above the windows to block direct sunlight in the warmer months.

The benefits of these architectural decisions will improve your utility bill and your employee’s quality of life. 

  • Conserve heating and cooling costs 
  • Use less artificial lighting 
  • Improve employee wellness & productivity

Constructing windows in a strategic location is only a foundation for success. After that, you should also make sure to glaze the glass so the solar energy doesn’t escape the structure. In colder climates, consider double glazing the windows. 

If you’re looking at constructing a building from scratch, make sure you consider its relative position to the sun. 

Even if you’re searching for a brand-new property, ask your real estate agent how the windows will perform throughout different seasons.

2. Choose Green, Non-toxic Building Materials

Investigating where your construction materials originated from will pay off long-term. Supporting companies that prioritize sustainability is essential to keeping your occupants healthy.

If chosen incorrectly, the materials you choose can be a toxic source of pollutants in your building. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are one type of indoor pollutant that’s commonly emitted from building materials. 

In particular, the air quality in your office will be affected by the elements you choose. 

These substances, which include formaldehyde and flammable alcohols, are especially damaging to those with asthma or chemical sensitivities. According to Berkeley Lab, some of the VOCs could cause cancer.

Construction elements that could include VOCs include:

  • Flooring
  • Adhesives
  • Carpeting

Many VOCs have primary and secondary emissions; emissions both during the material’s installation and throughout its life cycle.

The good news is that many companies have earned certifications that prove they produce non-toxic, eco-friendly materials.

For example, the GREENGAURD Certification confirms that products from a vendor contain non-hazardous levels of VOCs

Green certifications partner with online databases like SPOT, which helps customers search for sustainable materials.

Source: spot.ul.com

The products you’ll find on the platform include furniture, electronics, appliances, flooring, HVAC, and even lighting and fans. 

Before you move into a new office space, remember to question the toxicity of the materials used during construction.

3. Implement Equipment that Conserves Water 

Water conservation is a green building strategy that’s friendly to the environment and your wallet. 

Instead of choosing the default options for water use and recovery, consider greener options.

Plan for the long-term health of your water system by implementing a leak monitoring strategy. 

Leakage is a major source of water waste that often goes unnoticed. Undetected leaks can also damage your property, potentially causing flooding.

There are smart leak detection systems that will automatically tell your maintenance staff when repairs are needed. 

For example, RDT Reliance Detection Technologies offers sensors, alarms, notifications, and reactive shut-off valves to monitor equipment conditions.

Source: Reliancedetection.com

Through implementing leak detection, you’ll keep your tenants happy, limit wasted resources, and control unexpected costs.

Beyond smart repair detection, your building could also feature low-flow plumbing equipment, which consumes less water per-use. 

Your office could feature both low-flow kitchen and bathroom fixtures. Technology continues to advance, putting more and more efficient toilets and faucets on the market. 

Image result for low flow vs high flow faucet"

Source: wateruseitwisely.com

When you choose efficient equipment, the onus to make sustainable choices isn’t on your employees anymore. Thanks to your choices, their day-to-day actions will conserve water.

You can also reuse water from washing machines, tubs, showers, and bathroom sinks. This liquid, called grey water, is not hazardous to human health. 

The reclaimed water isn’t potable, but it can be used to flush toilets or irrigate your office’s landscape. 

Since your employees use water every day, you’ll conserve water and funds on a regular basis. If you plan to occupy a building for several years, it’s likely that you’ll see a substantial ROI as the benefits outweigh initial installation costs.

When you re-consider your water management plan, you’ll conserve funds as well as resources.

Discuss Green Design With Your Real Estate Agency

As technology advances, there will be more and more opportunities to employ green architecture.  Ensure you’re speaking with an experienced real estate agent to hear the most sustainable options for your business.

Your employees will feel healthier surrounded by green building materials that don’t emit as many hazardous chemicals. They’ll also enjoy a light-filled environment that provides optimal heat and light for each season. Your day-to-day operations will be more efficient when you implement equipment that limits water use or recycles water.

Since you expect efficiency from your employees, why not expect it from office space?

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