The Geyser Group believes in doing well by doing good. For Earth Day this year, our team wants to highlight the importance of environmental sustainability within the built environment. With rising climate concerns, it is critical for all players in the commercial real estate industry to consider how buildings impact the environment. To inspire all of us, here are the top nine strategies to reduce the use of energy in Austin commercial real estate.
Currently, construction and demolition produce up to 500 tons of waste annually. This accounts for more than twice the amount of generated municipal solid waste in the U.S. Additionally, building construction and operations generate nearly 40% of global CO2 emissions. 11% of total emissions are caused by manufacturing building materials and construction processes.
Top Nine Strategies to Reduce the Use of Energy, Carbon, and Water.
Energy, Carbon, and Water Reduction Strategies for Development Projects
1. Building Envelope – increasing insulation, adding tinting/glazing to windows, installing a white or green roof, and designing buildings with orientation to the path of the sun in mind, can reduce heat gain and energy consumption spending.
2. Mechanical Systems – high-efficiency heat pumps, electric water heaters, smart thermostats, and a fully integrated building automation system to tie everything together leads to a more energy-efficient building with a low carbon footprint that costs less to operate in the long run.
3. Renewables and Storage – on-site solar and battery storage combined with green power purchases and participation in utility demand response programs will enable buildings to achieve their net-zero targets while saving money or generating additional revenue.
4. Appliances and Water Fixtures – EPA Energy Star Rated and WaterSense labeled appliances and fixtures for the kitchen, laundry room, and bathroom ensure high efficiency and low water consumption, while electric stovetops and water heaters reduce carbon emissions generated by your building.
5. Landscape Irrigation – low or no water use landscaping that includes native and drought-resistant plantings results in water and dollar savings. Irrigated areas should consist of smart controls, and any areas on the property that can be utilized for water catchment and re-use can lead to additional savings.
6. Lighting – lighting design should result in the appropriate level of lumens per watt of energy required and incorporate automatic controls via sensors, timers, and integration with the building automation system. The use of daylighting also reduces energy consumption.
7. Metering – you can’t manage what you don’t measure, so sub-metering of all major mechanical equipment, tenant, and indoor/outdoor common areas allows building engineers and managers to operate a more efficient building.
8. Embodied Carbon During Construction – carbon emissions from building materials and the construction process make up nearly one-third of all emissions associated with commercial and residential buildings. Therefore, selecting construction materials and interior finishes with low embodied carbon (how and where they are made, for example) plays a vital role in each project’s environmental impact.
9. Transportation – electric vehicle charging stations, bicycle storage, and strategies to reduce car dependence such as ride-sharing and public transportation incentives reduce emissions and provide flexible alternatives to residents and workers.
It will take a conscious effort to integrate this into our development process, but being mindful of the impact that construction has on the environment is the first step.
If you would like to learn more about how companies are making an effort to be more environmentally conscious, check out these articles.
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