Environmentally-Friendly Building Tips

11/30/10 at 04:55 AM
The environment has become a key issue in recent years giving rise to a focus on sustainable building practices.  LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and similar building rating systems were created in part to showcase what is possible in environmentally-friendly design.  The ultimate goal is to make sustainable building commonplace industry-wide for the betterment of the environment. 
 
Even in projects where LEED certification is not a stated goal, it is possible, and important, to consider the environmental impact of the work.  To help show how sustainable building principles can be incorporated into any project, Aria Group’s Green Committee got together and compiled some ideas to make your project greener with little or no cost.
 
Building Envelope 
Maintaining a comfortable interior environment is critical to a good dining experience.  To help reduce energy costs, a number of ideas can be implemented.  Low-E coated insulating windows should be specified.  White membrane roofing or “cool roofs” can reduce air conditioning loads on a building in the hot summer months.  Designing exterior overhangs or awnings that work with the seasonal angles of the sun can help reduce heat gain in the summer and help warm up interiors in the winter.
 
Water 
Significant reductions in water usage can be gained easily thru a few simple steps.  Using low-flow restroom fixtures and faucets has a dramatic impact on water usage.  There are even high efficiency pre-rinse valves available for savings in the kitchen.  On-demand hot water heaters eliminate the heating of a tank full water during non-use and overnight periods. Specifying native planting for landscaping around the building as opposed to grass or non-native plantings reduces the need for watering during the summer months.
 
Energy
With stricter energy codes being implemented in municipalities across the nation, energy usage reduction is a necessity, not a luxury.  Manufacturers are producing LED lighting and compact fluorescent (CFL) fixtures that are more cost effective and provide the warm output and dimming capability necessary for the ambiance of restaurant lighting.  Light sensors that turn lights on and off when occupants enter or leave a room help reduce wasted electricity.  Energy Star certified equipment is commonly used on projects.
 
Materials
Many durable materials are now available that have a high content of recycled material as part of their makeup.  Reusing or salvaging materials previously headed for the landfill can save materials cost.  Low volatile organic compound (VOC) paints, caulks, adhesives and coatings improve indoor air quality. 
 
Studies have shown that restaurants use about 2.5 times more energy per square foot than other commercial buildings. With energy costs increasing at a rate of 6 to 8 percent a year and future building codes mandating energy efficiency, it’s more important then ever to implement some of the above cost-saving ideas that go right to your bottom line for your upcoming project.