The building industry is gaining in-roads in achieving sustainability from initial building construction projects, to green coatings and materials used, to building operations and management. But there is more work ahead and the key to success is to keep at it one building at a time.
What is intrinsic to a sustainable facility? The definition lies in several key pillars promoted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These are:
1. Energy Consumption and Renewable Energy Use. The sustainable facility consumes energy efficiently. It uses ENERGY STAR equipments and green coatings for roofs, walls and floors. It uses on-site renewable sources for power generation, such as solar photovoltaic or wind.
2. Water Consumption. The plumbing system of the facility passes standards for efficient water consumption. There is also a program in place to reduce water consumption and conserve water.
3. Sustainable Materials. The facility uses green materials such as cement or concrete with fly ash and recycled components in its composition. The facility also uses green coatings and other materials that contribute low to zero-VOCs.
4. Waste Management. The facility reduces, reuses, and recycles its waste products. Even green coatings are disposed of properly when no longer in use.
5. Indoor Environmental Quality. The indoor quality in the facility, its thermal comfort levels, ventilation systems, furnishings, and even the finishings and green coatings used pass recognized standards for indoor quality.