Certified LEED architects and construction companies design commercial buildings that are “green”. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The standards were developed by the US Green Building Council, but are now used by 30 other countries. Two of the main goals are to improve energy efficiency through sustainable building design and reduce water consumption. This can be accomplished in several different ways.
Buildings equipped with photovoltaic solar panels can actually generate more energy than they use. The extra electricity generated is sold to the local utility company, which means that the building owner actually earns a profit.
Insulation, double-paned windows and energy efficient doors are typically used during construction. Thought goes into the correct placement of the building to take advantage of the sun’s warmth in cooler climates.
In warmer climates, even the color of the structure can help to reduce air conditioning needs. For example, buildings with white roofs are cooler than those with black shingles.
For reducing water consumption, low-flush toilets can be installed in restrooms. Sensors can be installed on sinks to turn the faucets on or off. This reduces water usage and prevents germ transfer, because the faucets are touched less.
Improving the quality of the indoor environment is another goal of today’s designers. The quality of the indoor environment is also a LEED standard. It is hoped that better designs will end sick building syndrome (SBS).
SBS is a recognized health problem. It is primarily caused by poor indoor air quality. Poor designs in heating and air conditioning symptoms are frequently the cause.
In order to design commercial buildings that will not cause SBS, the materials used in construction, the ventilation system and the type of machinery to be used in the office are factors to consider. Formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds are found in items like carpeting. It is important that the compounds do not build up in the building’s air.
The use of native landscaping is another element of green construction. In areas where grass would not grow without daily watering, the company can choose drought-resistant shrubs, succulents and cacti for landscaping.
Some companies design commercial buildings that are constructed of recycled materials. One example was recently unveiled in Taiwan. It was constructed using plastic bottles, the kind used for bottling beverages.