Building Sustainability Checklist: 28 Tips to Make Your Building More Eco-Friendly.
Becoming a more sustainable business starts with having green buildings and infrastructure.
A building is considered sustainable/green because of its design, construction, and operational characteristics. A green building is built or modified to reduce or eliminate adverse environmental impacts and create positive impacts on the ecosystem and the natural environment. Green buildings use certified sustainable materials and reduce waste while preserving valuable natural resources. Beyond materials and operations, green buildings should also provide ample natural light, clean indoor air quality, and safety features to protect the planet and improve users’ quality of life.
The main challenges with building sustainability involve reducing overall impact to human health the and the environment. Some of the main challenges include:
- Responsible and efficient use of natural resources
- Increasing energy efficiency
- Improving air quality and lighting
- Reducing emissions, pollution, and environmental degradation
- Reducing waste
- Creating healthy indoor environments with low pollution
- Sustainable operation and maintenance
Building Sustainability Checklist
Follow this checklist to help your building become more sustainable in the following areas: lighting, construction, heating and cooling, water, energy, waste, indoor environment, landscaping, and maintenance. It will save you money in the long run in operational costs, reduce your environmental impact, and improve the health and lives of your occupants.
- Tip # 1: Install Light Timers – Light timers are efficient, reduce electricity costs, and save energy. They extend the useful life of each luminaire. Consider timers for both indoor and outdoor lighting.
- Tip # 2: Switch to LED Lights – LED lights have a long lifespan and are highly reliable, instant, bright, energy-efficient, and have an exceptional color range. They radiate less heat,, keeping your building cooler.
- Tip # 3: Add sun control and shading devices. – Sun control and shading devices can create a significant reduction in your building’s maximum heat gain and annual cooling energy consumption, improve natural lighting interior quality, and prevent solar radiation penetration into the building.
- Tip # 4: Put in motion sensors – Motion sensors lower energy costs, lengthen bulbs’ lifetime, improve building security and safety, and light up difficult places.
- Tip # 5: Implement smart insulation systems – Smart insulation systems prevent air conditioning or heating leaks to the outside and reduce energy consumption and excessive air conditioning and heating equipment usage.
- Tip # 6: Install an on-site solar panel system – Solar panels protect the environment, reduce and in some cases eliminate electricity bills, have a low maintenance cost, and ensure your energy security.
- Tip # 7: Use non Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) paint – VOC paints contain harmful chemicals that vaporize at room temperature and enter the atmosphere impacting the ozone layer and human health. VOC-free paints help reduce toxins that cause health and environmental implications, are easier to clean, and have less odor.
- Tip # 8: Install anti-slip strips and handrails on access ramps for disabled people – Building sustainability includes occupant welfare and accessibility. Handrails provide equitable accommodations and security for a safer ride.
- Tip # 9: Add rain barrels – Adding rain barrels is an easy way to conserve water and helps to reduce runoff, environmental pollution, soil erosion, flooding, and sewer overflows. Rain barrels also provide free water for use in landscaping, saving money on water bills and preserving resources.
- Tip # 10: Use Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood products – FSC certified wood products are the “gold standard” of eco-friendly lumber, sustainably sourced, help to combat deforestation, and held to a mandatory verification process. environmentally friendly and thermally efficient.
- Tip # 11: Get your building LEED certified – LEED certified buildings, save money, lower emissions, improve efficiency, add value to the property, promote employee productivity, and bolster the company’s community responsibility and public image.
Heating and Cooling
- Tip # 12: Insulate exterior walls – Proper insulation helps heating and cooling systems work efficiently, saves money, improves acoustics, isolates noise, and stops heat flow in and out of the building.
- Tip # 13: Utilize windows and natural light – Windows provide passive heating and cooling and natural lighting. Windows save money and energy and increase workers’ performance, concentration, and health and well-being.
- Tip # 14: Use programmable thermostats – Programmable thermostats save money, maintain a constant temperature, adjust heating and cooling specific to each room or zone, and optimize buildings’ HVAC systems.
- Tip # 15: Install window film – Window film helps balance building temperatures, reduces sun glare, provides added security, and improves building performance.
- Tip # 16: Install low-flow sensor faucet aerators in bathroom sinks and breakrooms – Low-flow faucets reduce water consumption, using roughly half the amount of water as conventional faucets (~1.5 gallons per minute compared to ~3 gallons for conventional faucets).
- Tip # 17: Reuse gray water – Gray water is water that has been used in washers, bathtubs, and bathroom sinks. Reusing gray water for landscaping purposes can help save water, money, and energy.
- Tip # 18: Implement drip irrigation for gardens – Drip irrigation is a very efficient irrigation system that optimizes water usage, targets roots directly, and reduces nutrient leaching and runoff.
- Tip # 19: Install water dispensers – Water dispensers use healthier, filtered water, reduce plastic bottle usage, and save money.
- Tip # 20: Switch to Energy Star-rated appliances – ENERGY STAR appliances significantly reduce building energy costs and lower environmental impact due to fewer greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
- Tip # 21: Use electric engine landscape maintenance tools – Electric landscaping tools save money, produce less noise, and are more environmentally friendly.
- Tip # 22: Use energy-efficient air hand dryers in bathrooms – Electric high-speed hand dryers are sustainable, hygienic, energy-efficient, and cost-effective.
- Tip # 23: Implement a recycling program – Business recycling saves energy, labor, money, and resources. Office recycling programs can incentivize employees and give them an opportunity to contribute to causes they care about.
- Tip # 24: Install adequate recycling stations – Recycling stations placed on each building floor reduce waste sent to landfills and incinerators.
- Tip # 25: Use improved filtration and ventilation systems – Improved filtration and ventilation systems eliminate odors, lower utility bills, remove pollutants, and make occupants happier, healthier, and more productive.
- Tip # 26: Incorporate plants and trees throughout your property – Trees and plants help to reduce and absorb noise pollution, capture CO2, prevent erosion, and improve mental health. In some cases, landscaping can be used to grow food on site, contributing to food security and bolstering community involvement.
- Tip # 27: Use Non-Toxic cleaning supplies – Green cleaning, non-toxic products contain low-hazard chemicals, are more environmentally friendly, and are safer and more suitable for indoor and outdoor cleaning.
- Tip # 28: Switch to refillable cleaning supplies – Refillable, concentrate or tablet-based cleaning supplies save energy, water, and packaging waste.
Sustainable buildings have a positive and responsible impact on the environment, human health and well-being, and the economy. Implementing these checklist items when planning your company’s green building initiatives will save you money, resources, and showcase to your employees and the world that you prioritize sustainability.
Beyond building sustainability practices, companies should focus on their complete operations to become as environmentally conscious and responsible as possible. Become a Green Business Bureau Member to assess where you stand with your company’s current sustainability initiatives and create a plan moving forward.
Sustainability is a commitment and a journey; enjoy the ride!
“Rafael has a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering and a Master in Business Administration from the University of Lima. Rafael is pursuing a Concurrent Master of Science degree in Entrepreneurship in Applied Technologies and Global Sustainability, with an Energy concentration, at the University of South Florida. Rafael has more than twenty-five years of working experience as an Executive and Business and Finance Consultant. He is passionate about applying his academic and working experience to helping people and organizations understand the importance of protecting the environment and communities. He loves to spend time with his family and attend sports and music venues.”