LEEDing the Way to a More Energy Efficient Building

efficient building

These days, terms like sustainability, environmentally-friendly and energy efficient are more than just a fad— they’re a way of doing business. And the folks at ESI know better than anyone about environmental design for food facilities.

The environmental impacts of standard design, construction and operations of creating a LEED-certified facility are enormous. These buildings typically consume more than 30% of the total energy and more than 60% of the electricity in the United States. In fact, refrigerated buildings are some of the greatest users of energy, so to limit or reduce energy use makes the most economic sense.

Furthermore, green design, construction and operations have social elements that can be leveraged to maximize sales and make a company more socially responsible.

However, use of sustainable materials is only a small part of sustainable design. The way ESI applies sustainable techniques is what makes them unique. ESI typically uses design standards, or “low hanging” fruit, to successfully qualify for the most LEED points. This is more economically friendly and reinforces the idea that, in general, good design is also “green.”

For projects in the southwest, for example, ESI utilizes concrete over asphalt because it will hold up longer and doesn’t absorb heat like asphalt. Reducing the heat island positively impacts microclimates as well as human and wildlife habitats.

Another way to implement sustainable techniques is to utilize low flow/water fixtures in restrooms. The operational impact is minimal, but the overall savings is very impactful, as thousands of gallons of water can be saved. Currently LEED is not tailored specifically for refrigerated cold storage facilities. In order to even qualify, some pre-requisites need to be modified for refrigerated facilities. For example, installing mechanically or naturally ventilated air that flows into the entire building is extremely inefficient for a freezer or cooler area, but is acceptable in an office or classroom area.

Most importantly, what do companies need to do to become LEED certified?

It’s in any owners’ best interest to educate themselves in green building practices and design. Another important step is to commission a firm, like ESI, with experience in the certification process. In addition, the owner should be willing to modify the way things have typically been done and commit to the change. A refrigerated facility can be built to LEED standards, but it must also be operated like a LEED building.

However you decide to do business, ESI can “LEED” your way into an energy-efficient future.

— Authored by Tim Gibbons, Vice President of ESI Design Services.

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