It’s well known if you want your building to be eco-friendly, steel construction is the way to go. Steel is the number one choice for energy efficiency, outclassing concrete and wood by a mile. With a changing climate and more and more people coming into greater awareness about the need for sustainable practices, steel is climbing in popularity.
If you’re looking to “go green” with your next steel building, there are many factors to consider that will help you along your way. Beyond the recyclable, long lasting and affordable steel itself, look at the following additions, considerations and options. These ecological opportunities can take your building to the next level.
Consider Property Location
Choose a location that is near to community transit to provide ample opportunities to get to and from your building without driving. Avoid natural wildlife habitats, flood zones and areas that are consistently subjected to harsh weather or natural disasters. The best-case scenario is to find land that has already been used as a building site. This kind of property “recycling” preserves more nature. Better yet if you’re able to use the pre-existing foundation.
Where Are You Situating Your Building?
It is important to find a balance of sun and shade so as to reduce your heating and cooling costs. If you can position your structure to receive optimal sunlight in the colder months and shade in the warmer months you will reduce your heating/cooling costs overall. Taking this into consideration saves you money and allows you to work with nature, rather than adding stress to the environment.
Check the Layout of the Interior
Just like the outside of the structure, the interior should be built to retain or eradicate heat efficiently. Consider which parts of the building will be used when and create a design that places them where they will most likely be able to gather heat from the sun. Make sure that you are mindful of which areas of the building will be used when. While it is wonderful to use natural light and heat, you also don’t want to end up baking in your space due to too much direct sunlight.
Get Proper Insulation
Improper insulation is a major cause of elevated heating and cooling bills and is definitely not ecofriendly. Insulating your whole building – including the roof and floors – will keep the interior of your building at the temperature you desire.
There are many different types of insulation options out there for various parts of your structure. Blanket insulation will take you a long way, but for areas where wiring and pipes exist use spray-foam insulation. This flexible type of insulation will get into every crevice that blanket insulation will miss.
Say “NO” to Volatile Organic Compounds
Indoor air-pollution is created through the emanation of volatile organic compounds (VOC). These compounds are toxic and many finishing products such as paint, carpet and flooring use them. When looking into finishing products for the interior of your structure, choose low or no-VOC products.
Vent it Out
Proper ventilation equals better air quality and reduces the risk of mold, corrosion and moisture in the interior of your space. Ventilation also eases the stress on heating and cooling units. If you can, add ceiling fans to your space. These swirling fans help the ventilation system by circulating the air and creating cross-ventilation.
Look into Low-e Windows
Windows with low thermal emissivity (Low-e) are built to resist heat transference. This means warm air stays in your structure longer – even in frigid weather conditions. It also means that blazing summer heat won’t penetrate your air-conditioned space. Low-e windows are a very easy way to reduce overall energy expenditure. By protecting the temperature of your interior, Low-e windows save you money and are a great “go green” choice.
Go Up, Not Out
Less roof means less sun exposure, which makes temperature control easier. Beyond this, a taller building makes cross-ventilation far more efficient than a vast, wide structure with a large foundation. More natural light exposure is possible with a tall building, which only adds to its appeal. While a smaller building means less energy expended in general, if you must build a large structure (or add to an existing structure) consider building up instead of out.
Light It Up Right
Incandescent bulbs have ruled the lighting roost for decades. These days, however, people are getting wise to the benefits of CFLs and LEDs. These new types of bulbs consume far less energy than their incandescent cousins. They last longer and burn cooler as well.
Important to note: While CFLs are more energy efficient, they do contain mercury which is released if a bulb were to shatter. To avoid this harmful substance getting into your environment, go for LEDs as they do not contain any mercury.
It doesn’t have to cost much more than a little time and energy to craft a building that is good for the environment. Steel construction already sets you up for success when it comes to “going green.” Be mindful in your choices and investigate all options. In the end, green-based practices save you money and help the planet. Consider it a win-win for both your building and the ground it’s built on.