Guide To Green Commercial Building Construction

Eco glass building


Between the release of toxins and the potential for wasted energy, a careless approach to commercial construction can prove devastating to the environment. Fortunately, researchers have come up with a variety of ingenious solutions to many of the ecological construction issues that, at one time seemed insurmountable. This new approach to construction is surprisingly affordable and, ultimately less of a burden on Mother Nature. Building contractors interested in doing their part for the environment are advised to keep the following eco friendly considerations in mind:

Toxic Building Materials

A variety of once-standard building materials have all but disappeared from the commercial construction landscape, due to alarming findings about the impact of said materials on both individuals and the environment at large. For example, lead paint, once common in both residential and commercial buildings, is now regarded as a huge health risk. Fortunately, thanks to public awareness campaigns and the commitment of concerned building contractors, lead paint is rarely found in new and renovated structures.

Polystyrene, once lauded for its fire retardant abilities, may soon go the way of lead paint, as researchers believe that chronic exposure can be devastating to the central nervous system. The problems associated with polystyrene do not end there; the production of this material creates an alarming amount of air and water pollution. Additionally, polystyrene production also creates hydrocarbons responsible for ozone depletion. Like polystyrene, polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, is also best avoided; the Environmental Protection Agency deems the dioxins accompanying this material personally and environmentally toxic at any level.

Energy Efficient Structures

Computer controlled flow and temperature control panel

Energy efficiency is, understandably, of chief concern among building occupants, especially as the cost of heating and cooling continues to increase. The most effective means of reducing energy consumption involves the targeted use of high-quality insulation, along with supplementary techniques such as the application of stainless steel bolts in areas prone to heat transfer. Doors and windows may also need to be addressed, as large, poorly-sealed areas may result in significant energy loss. Special glazes and tints can be used to keep heat in during the winter months and out when summer arrives. Contractors are also advised to keep air duct and pump sealing in mind, as both techniques can create impressive energy savings without contributing greatly to the overall building budget.

Local Lumber And Gypsum Delivery

While worrying about the potential cost and environmental impact of building materials and designs, contractors often fail to consider the effects of long-distance shipping. Materials may be purchased from hundreds or even thousands of miles away; this approach is incredibly wasteful, considering the likely presence of nearby suppliers. Consider investing in lumber, gypsum and other building materials that have been manufactured and distributed on a regional level; this approach reduces the need for cross-country shipping, all while supporting the local economy.

Bird Proofing Measures

birds_in_the_sky.jpgAt this point, it is almost a given that construction projects will include measures aimed at reducing energy consumption and minimizing the use of toxic materials. After all, even those expressing minimal concern surrounding environmental issues are eager to reduce energy costs and keep building occupants safe. In their quest to ensure human safety, however, few consider the negative impact commercial structures can have on bird populations. 

Outside of a reduction in viable habitat, the greatest problem commercial construction poses for birds is that of window-related fatalities. This is particularly true of modern glass buildings, in which flying birds see their reflections and, mistaking the images on the glass for other birds, fly straight for the reflective facades. Significant increases in bird fatalities may result from this building style, thereby increasing the threat of extinction for already rare populations.

Bird proofing solutions vary greatly from one construction project to the next. The most effective approach is the complete avoidance of glass facade structures, but, when this solution is not viable, netting and special gels can both be used to prevent bird crashes.

The construction industry is eager to assist in environmental preservations. Whether this means ceasing the use of hazardous materials or investing in bird proofing measures, building contractors take pride in knowing that they are making the world a cleaner and safer place.

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Photo Credit: vxla / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) 

USDAgov / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)


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