UPDATED May 16, 2019
Green construction can save you money on your Tucson office building, retail building or industrial building, as well as contribute to an environmentally friendly community.
Environmental sustainability is a long phrase that boils down to this: Create a commercial real estate building with long life, loose fit and low-energy use.Take a warehouse. Its heavy-duty construction is built to last (long life).
High ceilings and wide open spaces allow you to re-arrange the inside, such as by simply moving things around or putting in glass walls, for example (loose fit).
Some older warehouses built before air conditioning and electricity were designed to be naturally cool and well-lit (low energy).
Embracing Environmental Sustainability
Institutions whose physical presence includes many buildings, such as government entities, large corporations and universities, have enthusiastically adopted sustainability, or green, construction.
Almost without exception, institutional clients require the use of recycled materials like synthetic carpet. They incorporate energy-efficient features.
Constructing an energy-efficient building costs a bit more, but saves money in the long run.
Tucson’s 2030 District
A private-public partnership provides education and collaboration opportunities to property owners and others in the commercial real estate industry on environmental sustainability. The aim is to reduce building energy consumption, water use and transportation emissions 50% by 2030.
The target area includes the University of Arizona, downtown, West University and west of downtown. There is potential to affect the sustainability of more than 23 million square feet of commercial space.
Real estate owners, managers, developers, industry professionals and sustainability experts belong to Tucson’s 2030 District. They are committed to reducing the environmental impact of building construction and operations, recognizing that these practices help save money while improving the local economy and the health of residents.
The group’s efforts to create a business model for urban sustainability that will include leveraged financing and shared resources will yield workable strategies to go green.
U.S. Green Building Council
Leading the way in encouraging more sustainable building practices is the U.S. Green Building Council. The industry association is made up of
- environmental groups
- building owners and managers
- governmental agencies
- financial and insurance companies.
Its rating system, called Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), serves as an industry standard for green building.
The LEED rating system includes 69 criteria that fall under five categories:
- site selection
- materials and resources
- energy and atmosphere
- indoor environmental quality
- water efficiency.
To earn LEED designation in one of four levels, a building must fulfill a minimum of 26 criteria.
Slowly Going Green
The Green Building Council stresses that every building doesn’t have to do everything. Adopting a few good practices can get you minimum number of points for a basic designation.
Some buildings fall short of attaining the higher levels because of factors that can’t be controlled, like available land on which to build.
Simulation software is available to help design sustainable buildings. By using computer software that simulates and measures energy consumption, you can try out different options to see the effects.
For example, if you simulate a building with a lot of windows and it’s warm in the summer, how does that affect your air conditioning load and therefore your utility bills?
The software will actually simulate the life of the building—just as if you were walking in and turning on the lights.
Going Green for the Community
And sustainability goes beyond using environmentally friendly building materials.
For instance, why not build multi-purpose buildings, such as structures that serve as schools, community centers and libraries, depending on the time of day? That reduces the need for more buildings using more energy.
In short, you’ve created a sustainable use of buildings, even if they aren’t LEED designated.