Climate change is a significant threat to the planet and humanity, and its impact can pose health risks through air pollution and extreme weather events. It’s a complex issue that requires creative solutions, and everyone shares the responsibility of limiting their carbon footprint as much as possible, including businesses. In fact, considering that firms generate significant global plastic waste, they play a crucial role in the environmental crisis.
Business premises account for massive carbon emissions, especially in large cities, so organizations seeking to make a change should start by embracing sustainable architecture. Today’s innovations make it easier for new buildings to be designed in eco-friendly ways, such as making use of renewable energy sources, water conservation systems, and recycled and upcycled materials.
Understanding the concept of sustainable architecture
Sustainable architecture means designing a building to reduce the dangers inflicted on humanity and the environment. It comprises all the aspects of the planning and construction of the building, such as the choice of materials, the implementation of a heating and cooling system, and so on. The principles of sustainable architecture come from ancient building techniques that changed along with the rise of modern materials. Amid a climate change emergency, architects, designers and builders must combat the damage by implementing green building practices.
Architecture and sustainability should go hand in hand when planning the design of a business premise. The goal is to make the most of natural resources without generating unreasonable costs, which can be achieved by following five basic principles:
- The 3R rule, which stands for reduce, reuse and recycle;
- Minimize wasteful energy and water consumption;
- Manage building materials to lower the impact of future greenhouse gasses;
- Boosts the health and well-being of people in the building;
- Protect the area surrounding the building.
How can businesses make the most of sustainable design
Sustainable architecture is about saving, conservation, and rational consumption, which ultimately benefits the community and environment. There are different solutions to decrease the impact on the planet, and we’ll discuss them below in detail.
Figures show that in 2018 alone, 146.1 million tons of waste ended up in landfills, with plastics accounting for more than 18%. It can take hundreds of years until plastic degrades, leaking toxic substances into the water and soil and threatening marine life and human health. However, there is a solution to this: recycling waste material like wood or by-products like bricks or plastic. For example, Mil-tek company in Belgium supplies balers and compactors, which are eco-friendly machines that can be used for waste cardboard and plastic and even mixed waste. By investing in them, you can fully embrace sustainability in your business.
Another essential aspect of sustainable architecture is using materials with recycled components, like metal equipment, gypsum boards, panels, etc. Similarly, you can reuse materials from demolition projects – if they meet quality standards. In the design of the business premise, you can opt for renewable wood sources like bamboo and cork, as well as paint which is free from VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). Supporting local trade when sourcing materials can also benefit the environment because it translates into shorter journeys and, thus, fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
Another incredible way to turn your commercial building into a green one is to shift to renewable energy. No business premise can operate without electricity, but thanks to the innovative solutions available nowadays, you no longer have to depend only on the grid. Instead, you can update your infrastructure and invest in solar panels, which are affordable and incredibly efficient, helping you reduce the CO2 emissions in your company and cut down on energy costs. Solar power is a low-risk investment for businesses and ensures energy stability.
Moreover, it is space-saving, making it a practical solution. Prioritizing renewable energy infrastructure is a great way to practice corporate social responsibility – a business model that means operating in ways that enhance the environment instead of degrading it. Environmental responsibility is a crucial part of CSR, and it’s rooted in helping the planet through recycling and designing products with sustainability in mind. Since consumers now consider the environmental impact of a product before buying it, engaging in sustainability by practicing CSR can improve your brand image.
Innovative heating and cooling systems
An HVAC system is a significant energy user in commercial buildings, and at the same time, an air conditioner produces tons of CO2 emissions. However, the energy consumption can be reduced by 10% if the heating and cooling are turned down while the staff isn’t at the company.
But this isn’t the only way to decrease heating and cooling waste; instead, you can use alternative HVAC systems – a great innovative solution. For instance, chiller boiler systems utilize water instead of air for heating and cooling, providing even temperatures as they employ radiant heat. And the best part about these systems is they can be installed easily, as they can be attached to the water supply of the building.
Landscaping isn’t new when it comes to commercial buildings; on the other hand, green roofs are innovative, providing ecological and economic benefits. A rooftop garden can enhance the look of your business premise, making it more attractive for visitors and staff. However, the environmental advantages are also notable: not only do green roofs act like rainwater buffers, but they are also air purifiers that absorb carbon dioxide. At the same time, they save energy, regulate the building’s temperature on the inside, and promote biodiversity.
Green roofing is a great investment for a business premise due to its extended lifespan. Since plants have high levels of moisture, they provide fire resistance. Moreover, a green roof requires low maintenance while delivering great eco advantages – is there anything else to wish for?
Sustainable design makes a tremendous difference
A green future starts with implementing practices that help protect the environment. Luckily, sustainable architecture is a great way to reduce the negative impact on the planet, and embracing it involves some basic principles, like opting for eco-friendly materials and switching to renewable energy.
If everyone does their part, people will live more in harmony with nature, enjoying a greener – and thus, healthier – planet.