Green Office Renovations for the Workplace
Green office renovations are part of the green building revolution. Environmental consciousness has steadily moved indoors in recent years, as growing awareness of two facts dawned: (1) Most people spend about 90 percent of their time inside, especially on the job and (2) Existing indoor environments like offices pose the potential to be even more unhealthy than the outdoors, particularly when it comes to indoor air quality.
Today, new construction is increasingly green from the drawing board up and extending even to the end of the building’s life cycle with issues surrounding eventual renovation or demolition. Environmental and sustainability concerns are addressed in the conceptual stage and finished structures are resource-efficient and utilize renewable sources. However, designers and builders still observe conventional imperatives like low operating costs, utility, long structure life and occupant comforts and ergonomics. Green office renovations also incorporate many of the same values as new construction, but superimposed into a structure that may well belong to an era of lower environmental priorities.
Broad characteristics of a green office renovation include:
- Lowering operating costs by improving the efficiency of office energy consumption, HVAC systems and management of other scarce resources by upgrading facility systems to more high-efficient units. Water conservation technology is also utilized.
- Protecting occupants from effects of indoor pollutants, including source control such as removing building materials that outgas toxic fumes, high-efficiency air filtration to remove airborne particulates, and remediation procedures to locate and remove any sources of mold and other pathogens from the premises.
Attention to the facility’s impact on the local community environment by waste reduction, recycling and pollution control. National laboratories as well as universities, private organizations and industry contribute to research driving green buildings and green office renovations. One report indicates that over 70 percent of inquiry focuses on energy conservation and atmospheric studies, followed by research into new materials that can revolutionize green construction.
Medical studies on the consequences of long-term exposure to common indoor pollutants are also changing the status quo for indoor air quality, particularly in commercial and work scenarios. On the public sector side, the Environmental Protection Agency adopted an official Green Building Strategy in 2008. Its mission statement commits the agency to reinforcing the links between technological, economic and institutional impetus involved in formulating standards for new green construction as well parameters to evaluate existing structures.
Specifics that mark the distinction between green office renovations versus conventional cosmetic makeovers include these very doable items:
- Substituting energy efficient lighting. A green office exploits natural light where possible and opens up as many sources of it as possible. All workspaces—not just executive offices—have access to window light. In addition, higher-efficiency LED lighting fixtures replace incandescents and old-school fluorescent tubes. Individual task lighting is preferable to large overhead sources. Lighting is arranged in zones and controlled by timers or motion sensors.
- Recycling furniture. Where possible, instead of disposing of existing furniture and adding more volume to local landfills, companies opt to re-use where possible. Local vendors can repaint desks, shelvings and other components with paints formulated with low volatile organic compound (VOC) content for that “new look” yet still preserve indoor air quality.
- Green materials. Where flooring is replaced, tiles or carpets with 100 percent recycled materials are selected. Paint on the walls is low-VOC and building materials are green-certified to be free of glues and preservatives that slowly outgas fumes into the environment.
- Comfort control. Temperatures are programmed room-by-room into dedicated smart thermostats that sense room activity and “learn” the occupation patterns of each room. Low-tech, low-energy alternatives like ceiling fans are available as are passive temperature control methods such as heat absorbing window films and retractable awnings.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about Plumbing, HVACR, Fire Protection, and Alarm Systems in Mechanical, Commercial, and Residential settings. For more information about green office renovations and to view projects we’ve worked on, visit our website!