Steps to Take for a Greener Commercial Building

May 5, 2012

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The commercial building industry is embracing the Green Building movement in many ways to show its support in saving the environment from harmful VOC emissions. Here are the steps that can turn commercial buildings green:

1. Green Design for Commercial Buildings

 The effort to green commercial buildings start early in the drawing boards, where teams of architects and designers are infusing green ideas to their schematic designs even before the building’s construction began. They look for ways to conserve on energy, preserve water, dispose waste properly, and lessen VOC emissions coming from construction materials to be used in building construction.

Building planners analyze the building site, and then look for ways to enhance energy efficiency, such as using natural shading to save on cooling and lighting costs, or implementing only green commercial building painting applications. The designers aim to use only the right technologies, tools and materials that increase the quality of the building but do little to harm the environment. Commercial building painting based on green schematics has been subjected to the architects’ rigorous greening considerations, and only the least toxic and low-emitting coatings will be used in a green-designed commercial building.

 2. Green Commercial Buildings and the EPA

 The US Environmental Protection Agency or EPA has a comprehensive knowledge base that can transform existing commercial buildings and even new ones green. At the forefront of the EPA-led initiative for green commercial buildings are four (4) “flagship” green campaigns. The first of these is the Energy Star program for energy-efficient commercial buildings, which urges commercial buildings to embark on goal-setting, energy policy creation, and continuous improvement and monitoring of energy utilization. This focus necessitates the adoption of green commercial building painting tools and methodologies as one way to make the building energy-efficient.

 The Indoor Environments Program defines the indoor air quality (IAQ) and indoor environment quality (IEQ) focusing on improving indoor ventilation and eliminating pollutants, such as hazardous emissions from commercial building painting products, to avoid the risk of safety and health problems for building tenants.

 The Water Program focuses on water conservation at offices, and covers the need for a committed team to champion the program, the use of the proper equipments to conserver water, and encourage the mindset of water conservation in tenants.

 The reduction, reuse and recycling program for construction and demolition materials involve guidelines on proper waste disposal, and a listing of local recycling plants and waste haulers. This applies to commercial building painting waste disposal as an important post-painting activity to prevent the release of VOCs to the atmosphere.

 3. Green Paints for Commercial Buildings

 Commercial building painting products are the most visible aspects of a building, and therefore they must be green before the whole building can ever be considered green. The practice of using only low- to zero-VOC commercial building painting products is necessary. The handling, mixing, painting application and even end-of-life waste disposal should also be done properly so as to lessen harmful environmental impacts.

 Recycling of leftover commercial building painting products is also a good green practice, and the use of water-based low- to zero-VOC paints will ensure lesser carbon footprints released to the atmosphere. Avoidance of paints with heavy metal components is also essential to prevent health risks to tenants.

 The green commercial building idea is fast becoming a reality across the nation, and it starts with green commercial building painting initiatives as one of the drivers of this change.

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