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Sustainable design principles & the impact of US buildingsThe construction and use of buildings can have far-reaching ramifications on occupants, budgets, and the world around us, explains the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS). Those factors are sometimes called the “3 P's” – standing for people, pocketbook, and planet. Sustainable design was developed to respect the concerns of each of those elements.
The primary intentions behind a sustainably designed green office, as indicated by the NIBS’ Whole Building Design Guide, are to:
• “reduce… depletion of critical resources”
• “prevent environmental degradation caused by facilities and infrastructure”
• “create built environments that are livable, comfortable, safe, and productive.”
The reason these guidelines are so essential to architecture and office space design is that buildings account for sizable proportions of our overall environmental impact. According to data from the US Green Building Council, the construction and operation of facilities in the United States results in:
• 36% of energy consumption and 65% of electric demand
• 30% of our comprehensive carbon footprint
• 30% of natural resource depletion
• 30% of trash and disposable byproducts
• 12% of clean water use
Going green in five stepsSustainability blog Wind offered these five easily deployable strategies that you and those around you can use to enhance the eco-friendliness of your office space:
1. Recycle – If you have a recycling program in your office, it can always be improved. For instance, you may be recycling paper and plastic, but what about ink cartridges, lightbulbs, and pens? “There really isn’t much that can’t be repaired, transformed, stripped down or melted and re-born as something useful to someone,” Wind argues.
2. Donate – Rather than dumping outdated computers or old furniture in the trash, consider gifting them to schools or nonprofits.
3. Digitize – Wind points out that printers use both paper and petroleum. Reduce the volume of your printing and transition to recycled paper for your day-to-day needs. You can also check out eco-font: its designers say it can potentially cut your printing expenses in half. Visit http://ecofont.com to learn more.
4. Off-switches – If no one is in the office typically in the evenings or on Saturdays and Sundays, make use of the off-switches on all your equipment.
5. Plants – The most obvious tactic to create a green office is to bring in plants. Their basic benefits are threefold: they beautify and naturalize otherwise stark, functional environments; they increase oxygen, freshening the air; and they absorb airborne toxins.
Sustainability as part of a synergistic design approachThe tips offered by Wind are great ways to improve the sustainability of your operations. However, the green office starts with the design of the built environment.
Beaux-Arts Group creates dynamic workspaces by selecting furnishings best-suited to your current and ongoing needs. Contact a specialist to learn how environmental sustainability can be integrated into your design process.