Kairi Nõulik, Head of Real Estate Sustainability of Forus, shares advice on what to keep in mind if you would like the office or production building of your company to be energy-efficient, eco-friendly, and have low upkeep costs. It is worth considering these tips when designing a new building or planning a renovation project because they affect the decisions related to the use and maintenance of the building.

Find a smart approach to energy use

When designing and constructing an energy-efficient building, you should think about minimising energy consumption during all stages. Lowering the costs related to a building and making it more comfortable is a priority with new buildings as well as renovation. You should use renewable technologies or the kind with a small environmental footprint, such as solar panels, to meet the energy requirements of the building. Initially, transitioning to energy-efficient technology might seem like a substantial investment, but it will pay off quickly. If transitioning to greener sources of energy seems like a large investment, there are easier and cheaper ways for reducing energy consumption. For example, you can review the exploitation schedules of technical building systems to make sure that systems such as lighting would only work when people are present on the premises or a work process requires it. This type of smart automation along with technical building systems achieves most of the energy savings independently.

Create a sustainable solution for water consumption

Explore various ways to handle potable and waste water efficiently and discover innovative methods for reducing the overall use of fresh water in a building. You should also consider the surroundings. The storm water and drainage systems of a building must be reliable and you should consider whether you can utilise that water to cover the water consumption needs of the building by using it for greenery, rain gardens, in flush tanks in toilets, or for other purposes.

Reduce the creation of waste and encourage recycling

When constructing or renovating a building as well as after the completion of such works, you should pay attention to the durability of the materials and reduce the amount of waste. This means that you should create opportunities for the users of the building for smart waste management. If you are planning to demolish an old building, you should think about reusing the demolition waste in the construction of a new building. In addition to recycling, you might end up with an amazing design concept.

Protect the nature surrounding the building

You should start to think about making room for a variety of wildlife in the urban environment already in the planning stage. If there are no green areas in the vicinity of the building, you should consider creating them with as little maintenance required as possible. For example, instead of low grass demanding constant cutting and watering, you could surround the building with an area filled with tall grasses and flowers, requiring less maintenance and offering a pleasant habitat for various insects. This kind of environment is also beloved by bees and seeing beehives on green areas around office buildings has long ceased to be a rare sight.

Think about the future when creating buildings and spaces

Climate change is becoming an inevitability, so our buildings must withstand and be safe during floods, heat waves, fires, etc. In addition, you should try to predict the possible changes in the company and the possibility to adapt the premises to the changes to avoid the premature ageing and demolition of the building or large-scale reconstruction when the team grows or structural changes take place.

Consider the various life stages of the building

The objective is to reduce the environmental impact of the premises and to protect the building’s social and economic value during all stages of its life cycle, starting from design, construction, use, and maintenance and ending with renovations and possible demolition. To keep the environmental impact of a building as small as possible, minimal resources must be used for the production and transportation of the materials (such as water and energy). You should consider using locally sourced materials with a transparent life cycle. This can be verified by various environmental certificates – you should look for the EPD (Environmental Product Declaration) label, for example.

Establish an environment for the users of the building that promotes well-being and healthy habits

The users of the building must feel comfortable. The ventilation of the building must ensure a high-quality fresh indoor climate and a suitable temperature to support the productivity of the staff and prevent the spread of viruses. Taking maximum advantage of daylight helps to reduce the consumption of energy for lighting and allows the users to enjoy the views of the surrounding environment. Excellent acoustics and proper sound insulation help the users of a building focus on their work better.

Consider the surrounding environment and people

Every building must blend into its surroundings and lead to positive social and economic changes in the local community. During the design stage, you should also consider transportation options and encourage eco-friendly alternatives such as walking and cycling.

If constructing an energy-efficient green building or renovating an existing one based on the aforementioned principles matches the values of your company and is a priority in the near future, then Forus offers consultations on the subject. Together, we will prepare the technical terms of reference for the designer, ensuring that all important laws and requirements are taken into account during the construction or renovation and that the end result meets the needs of the company and complies with energy efficiency standards and the best practices of green buildings. Moreover, Forus can subsequently assist with the management and maintenance of the building.

If you would like to learn about designing an energy-efficient building, we are available for a consultation. Read more about the service here.

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