Building Efficiency from the Ground Up
For most people, building efficiency seems to start taking shape as soon as ground is broken. In reality, it starts when you specify and order quality materials and equipment. If you want to build an energy efficient commercial building or home that; requires little maintenance, uses less energy, and has little impact on the environment—you should start planning for it now!
Location, Location, Location
The location of your low-impact structure is a key element. If you’re thinking about solar panels, make sure your roof has a high surface area and is (preferably) south-facing. Make sure you plan for proper irrigation or drainage to avoid leaks—especially if you’re considering a green roof.
By maximizing natural light, you will also be decreasing the amount of indoor lighting that’s needed. Make sure your windows are sized appropriately, facing the right direction (for both views and sunlight), and appropriately constructed (for insulation and to take advantage of window-facing). Also make sure they are high performing and have a tight seal.
If location, budget, and regulations permit, maybe consider some geothermal options.
All Systems Go
Efficient systems are a great way to maximize an efficiently constructed building. And it is much easier to plan for and install these systems at the start of construction than to retrofit them afterwards. Some systems to consider:
- Advanced electrical controls
- Efficient plumbing
- Solar electric controls
- Tankless water heater
- Automatic thermostat
Other systems may integrate into apps or online programs—think “Internet of Things.” These systems will impact the building’s efficiency from the start, so you begin saving on utilities immediately.
What Are You Made Of?
Materials are the flesh and blood of a building. Using quality materials from the start will help ensure sustainability and efficiency. This includes every item you are putting into your new construction. Specifically look into the following
- Efficient insulation
- Weather-tight walls
- Quality windows
- Light colored shingles
Outfitting For Efficiency
Appliances are some of the things we interact with most in a building. They can also be the most costly in terms of electricity usage. Be sure to look for high efficiency appliances and fixtures that are Energy Star rated when selecting
- Toilets and shower heads
- Ovens and microwaves
- Fridges and walk-in coolers
- LED lights
If you consider all of these aspects of construction in an energy-minded way, you’ll reap the benefits of creating an energy efficient building for years to come. You could even qualify as a LEED rated or Energy Star facility!