Nowadays, it is more important than ever to begin working towards making eco-friendly lifestyle choices. We are all more than aware of the growing deterioration of global warming; therefore, we should actively play a role in creating a more sustainable world. However, while becoming more environmentally friendly is somewhat straightforward when making changes to your own lifestyle, it can be tricky when tackling a large commercial building or office. Without making sustainable updates to the property itself, it will be hard for those working inside to make a difference. With this in mind, to create a foundation for change in the workplace, we have pieced together an energy efficient building guide filled with ideas. Whether you operate in an office, retail unit or warehouse, these tips will help you to begin lowering your carbon footprint.
How To Design An Energy Efficient Building
Designing a property with efficiency in mind is also known as a sustainable building. Anything that falls under the ‘sustainable’ category can continue to run for years into the future while causing little to no damage to the environment, making it a fantastic way to begin building a greener planet.
Although the easiest way to create an eco-friendly building is through incorporating features into the construction process, this most definitely doesn’t mean that you cannot adapt your existing property step by step. The easiest renovations to begin with include the following:
- Consider Timber Cladding
- Boost Building Insulation
- Draught-Proof The Building
- Maximise On Natural Lighting
- Opt For Reclaimed Furniture
- Install Energy Efficient Appliances
- Fit Eco-Friendly Flooring
- Switch To LED Bulbs
- Minimise Workplace Waste
If you are in the early stages of your commercial building project, then one of the first considerations should be which type of cladding you choose to install. Although all panel materials are fantastic for providing durability and reliability for many years to come, the most eco option is timber cladding. Should you choose timber which has been sustainably sourced, you will be taking advantage of an organic resource which does not require the use of fossil fuels to make. The impact that both the sourcing and manufacturing of timber cladding is minimal and will produce no waste, as any offcuts or excess wood will be repurposed. And even better, as timber is 100% recyclable, it will simply be reused for another building once you are finished with the panels.
As well as the environmental qualities, timber cladding can also create an eye-catching appearance for your commercial property. It will be entirely your choice whether you embrace the natural, organic look of the timber or choose to alter the colour through on site spraying. Both are excellent ways to make your premises stand out from the crowd, creating a positive first impression on visitors.
Insulation is a ‘must-have’ in every building, whether this may be commercial or domestic. Not only does insulation keep a building warm during the colder months, but also prevents warm outdoor air from entering during the summer. It aims to keep each room at a steady temperature, avoiding the need to overuse heating and air conditioning; both of which increase energy bills and carbon footprint in the workplace.
When designing your commercial property, insulation should play a vital role in the construction process. If you are hoping to boost existing insulation, on the other hand, this is also possible but will require you to close parts of your premises while the project is being carried out. Regardless of which situation you are in, there will always be many different variations of insulation to choose from. The type that you decide on will be based on your climate and the R-value that you would like. An R-value relates to how well a material can withstand heat transfer and its thickness. The higher the R-value, the better the material can prevent heat transfer. Designing Buildings Wiki has put together a handy guide to the different types of building insulation, which is a recommended read if you are unsure of the best type for you.
Based on an article by Carbon Commentary, around 25% of all heat loss is caused by draughts in a building. Whether this may be down to damaged roof sheets or small gaps around doors or windows; collectively, you could find yourself wasting a considerable amount of energy. If you notice an ongoing spike in bills each month or the building is struggling to retain heat, your first renovation should most definitely be to draught-proof each room.
There are many different ways that you can begin to draught-proof a building. The process should always start with the biggest culprit. For example, if you have damaged or cracked roof sheets, then you will need to schedule cladding panel repairs, along with roof coating services. Windows are another common cause of heat loss. Old, traditional windows may look vintage, but are likely to lack insulation features. In this case, investing in double glazing would be highly recommended.
Once you have tackled the large-scale, costly tasks, you can move onto handy tricks to prevent any draughts from seeping through. These include jobs such as adding sealant around windows, fitting a brush strip to the bottom of doors and a draught excluder on any openings.
There is no better sustainable, free natural resource than the sun, so use it to your advantage as much as possible. Opting to maximise and utilise natural lighting will reduce the reliance on artificial alternatives, which will not only improve efficiency but also cut costs. If you already have plenty of windows in your building, then it would merely be the case of opening up blinds or reconfiguring furniture, so nothing is blocking windows. However, if you lack windows, on the other hand, you will need to consider a renovation.
There are many different ways that you can introduce more sun into your building, including windows, roof lights and sun tunnels. The option you go ahead with will be based on your property type, budget, and whether you rent, for example, an office in a complex. Sun tunnels tend to be one of the most popular choices as they are easy to install and create a seamless appearance. More information on sun tunnels can be found on Sterling Build.
Along with improved efficiency, boosting natural lighting also comes alongside a wealth of benefits to the workplace, such as:
- Increased productivity and concentration
- Less eyestrain
- Improves sleep
- Boosts mood and workplace morale
When completing a full building refurbishment, the furniture will remain one of the most costly investments. While new furniture is not immediately ‘environmentally unfriendly’, opting for purchasing those made using reclaimed materials is a super sustainable option.
Reclaimed materials are those that have had a previous life, salvaged and then remade into a different form. One of the most common materials is wood, which is commonly taken from old barns or factories and made into furniture. The furniture created will still be of the same quality and finish of those made using brand new materials, but just significantly more eco-friendly. It prevents materials that are still in good, workable condition from rotting or being burnt in the landfill site.
Fitting reclaimed furniture is a fantastic idea if you are hoping to add a touch of character to your building, particularly an office. Many items are created in unique designs, ideal for injecting personality to any space. We love the collection available on Modish Living!
If you are aiming to boost sustainability, but want to avoid significant renovations, switching to energy-efficient appliances would be ideal. Energy-efficient appliances are a simple, yet effective concept. They aim to use as little energy as possible to complete the task at hand. Some even use renewable sources of energy, such as solar energy, instead of fossil fuels.
Appliances are grouped based on their energy efficiency rating, which can be found on a sticker usually on the back of the item. The rating involves a bar graph which ranges from A to G. Items with a rating of A are the most efficient, with G being the least. Some include additional rating including A+, A++ and A+++, again, these will be the highest efficiency. You can find more information on energy-efficient workplace equipment, along with product ideas, over on Energy Star.
When renovating a building, you should most definitely consider eco-friendly flooring options. In most cases, you will be able to find a ‘kind to nature’ alternative to every flooring type you like the look of. It is vital to keep in mind that there are two variations of eco-flooring. Those that have been made using sustainable materials and others that have been reclaimed. Sustainable flooring has been made through methods that have had zero impact on the environment, whereas reclaimed is recycled flooring that has been given a second life. Bob Vila has a great guide on the most popular eco-friendly flooring solutions, which will provide you with some inspiration on types available.
Switching to LED lightbulbs is one of the cheapest and easiest building renovations, but will make the most impact towards your quest to becoming sustainable. According to the Solar Electric Power Company, LED lightbulbs are 80% more efficient than their conventional alternatives. A fluorescent bulb wastes 95% of its energy down to heat, meaning that only 5% is used to light your room. LED’s, on the other hand, are the opposite. They utilise 95% of their energy to provide light and waste just 5% on heat.
Along with increased light, transitioning to LED lightbulbs comes alongside a number of additional benefits. Not only do they last more than 25 times longer than traditional bulbs, but they also cost six times less. They couldn’t be easier to purchase either with an array of styles available for commercial use on retailers such as Simply LED.
And even better, the efficiency of LED lightbulbs does not come to an end when they reach the end of their lifecycle. Unlike fluorescent lighting that is filled with chemicals that contaminate landfill waste, LEDs are completely recyclable.
While this may not be a direct refurbishment, it is imperative for building and maintaining a sustainable property. Everyone working within a building should actively aim to reduce their waste. By reducing waste, this doesn’t necessarily mean stop using particular items but instead striving to reuse or recycle as much as possible. Minimising waste will help towards conserving the available space in landfill sites to reduce the need for more to be built. The more landfills that need to be made, the more air and water pollution they will create; ultimately, contributing towards global warming.
Some great ways that you can begin lowering waste include the following:
- Go Paperless – The most effective way to reduce waste is to start transitioning towards a paperless approach. Consider everything that you print each day and eliminate those that can be available in a digital alternative.
- Recycling Bins – For every regular bin, make sure that it is accompanied by a recycling bin. Recycling bins can be ordered from Recyclingbins.co.uk for an affordable price.
- Reconfigure Printers – When you do need to print documents, ensure that they are set to double-sided to reduce paper usage. You could even consider switching to draft quality.
- Reduce Plastic Bottles – Over the past few years, there has been a significant focus on reducing the use of plastic bottles. In the workplace, ensure that you have invested in a water dispenser, plenty of cups and perhaps branded water bottles for employees. Together, this will stop any need for the use of plastic water bottles.
Building A Sustainable Future Workforce!
Regardless of whether you are designing a building from scratch, completing dilapidations or renovating your property, taking an eco-friendly approach should always play a role. Adopting new lifestyle changes doesn’t have to be a tricky task. While it may take practice, you will pick up habits incredibly quickly, especially if you have a team of colleagues who are also working towards the same goal. Our energy efficient building ideas are just suggestions on how you can renovate to improve sustainability, and there are a whole host of additional options across the web – it all just takes a little extra research!