Energy-efficient amenities can dramatically increase a development’s sustainability
By Ivo Grossi
Building complexes are taking steps toward sustainability and eco-friendliness in terms of construction and added amenities, also known as green building. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, green building is the process of creating buildings and developments that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient. This can be done when building a structure from the ground up, or when completing renovations.
Below are multiple ways that building managers can implement innovative sustainable amenities to their new or existing buildings, which are also great starting points for those needing to meet the Title 24 requirements that will come into effect January 1, 2020.
The concept of green building has been on the rise throughout the world; according to the U.S. Green Building Council, 60 percent of buildings will qualify as green by 2021. States even have regulations in place to ensure buildings are limiting energy consumption and waste. For example, California is looking to achieve its zero net energy goal through Title 24, the most advanced energy code in the country. Below are multiple ways that building managers can implement innovative sustainable amenities to their new or existing buildings, which are also great starting points for those needing to meet the Title 24 requirements that will come into effect January 1, 2020.
When making renovations to your existing building, the fitness center is a great place to start – these rooms are typically open for use 24/7, meaning lights and equipment can be left on and running, wasting electricity. Building managers and developers can now install sustainable gym equipment as an added amenity to a fitness facility. This type of energy producing equipment can be plugged into a standard outlet and generate watts through exercise that are converted to AC power and sent back into the power grid. This type of equipment can contribute to sustainable approaches, such as Title 24, and inspire new ways to think about generating energy. These machines are part of a zero greenhouse gas (GHG) product line that will zero out any greenhouse gas emissions or energy use associated with the use of the equipment. Additionally, the energy that is produced will then go on to help power lights, fans, TV’s and other utilities connected to the same power grid. To see how much equipment like this can potentially save your building, both in cost and energy, check out this eco-calculator.
This type of equipment can contribute to sustainable approaches, such as Title 24, and inspire new ways to think about generating energy.
Another easily installed amenity for fitness centers are occupancy sensor controls for the lights. If fitness equipment is left on and running, chances are the lights are too. A late-night user of the gym will not have to be responsible for shutting off the gym lights, they will be shut off when there is no longer activity in the room. According to Energy.gov, lighting use is attributed to about 20 percent of total energy consumption in commercial buildings. Studies show that adding lighting controls can reduce energy use by up to 90 percent or more, depending on the space the sensors are installed. It’s recommended that occupancy sensor controls should be installed in locations that are used intermittently, such as fitness centers, breakrooms and restrooms. Occupancy sensor controls must be installed where they can detect occupants or occupant activity in the room. Once installed, they provide convenience for guests and will ultimately save money.
Bathrooms are an area of your building where water waste can be saved through easy and quick installations, for example a low flush toilet. According to the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, toilets waste as much as 6 gallons of water per flush, whereas with a low flush toilet this can be reduced to 1.6 gallons. Toilets account for a third of water used each day, imagine the waste for buildings with multiple stories or apartment complexes with many toilets – replacing a traditional toilet with a low flush toilet will reduce water consumption by 25 percent or more.
We all know to turn off the sink while you brush your teeth to save water, but installing low flow sinks can help save water even when you need the sink on and running. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, traditional sinks use about 5 gallons of water a minute while faucets that are low flow use about 2.5 gallons per minute, without sacrificing water flow performance.
In 2013, Americans generated about 254 million tons of trash – of that trash only 87 million was recycled or composted, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. A way for building owners and managers to do their part in contributing to the environment is to install a recycling and/or composting center in the building. There are cities throughout America, Seattle for example, that the law requires all residential properties, including apartments and condominiums, to make a food and yard waste bin. According to Seattle.gov, composting reduces garbage and greenhouse gases, saves landfill space and results in compost that enriches your soil. While it may not be required by law in all states, having a designated area for composting and recycling within your building and encouraging its use will take your green building one step further in benefiting the environment.
California is leading climate change efforts with the most advanced energy code in the country, and there is a need for innovative approaches to meet the new code requirements and achieve the state’s net zero energy goals. This state is leading by example and is creating a better environment for its residents – building developers across the nation should follow in California’s footprints and start implementing initiatives such as those listed above. Sustainable Investment Group even stated that, “because of the success of these standards and other energy efficiency efforts in California, the state’s per capita electricity consumption has dropped 24 percent over the last 40 years, while the per capita energy consumption for the whole nation has only decreased 4 percent.”
Ivo Grossi is the CEO of SportsArt. He has 25 years of North American and international executive experience in the fitness, health & wellness industry. He writes about mindfulness, leadership, and conscious business on his blog at www.ivogrossi.com.