Small Changes, Big Green Impacts

Little things can make a big green difference, even on small projects. “There are several things an owner of a smaller project can do to increase building performance and to help protect and preserve the environment,” said Ted van der Linden, DPR’s director of sustainable construction. The top seven things all—but even small—projects can do to reduce a building’s carbon footprint include:

1) TELECOMMUTING. “The reduction of office space is by far the easiest thing owners can do to reduce their carbon footprint,” said van der Linden. “It also has the biggest impact.” Fewer people in the office means less square footage that needs to be heated and cooled, equipped, etc.

2) SHADING. While expensive, light-sensing shading devices greatly reduce the heat that typically drives up a building’s solar heat gain.

3) HIGH-EFFICIENCY HVAC SYSTEMS. An efficient HVAC system can use 7-10 percent less energy. Using more outside air in temperate climate zones can reduce energy use even more.

4) USE OF NATURAL DAYLIGHT. Maximizing natural daylight is key to reducing the energy needed to light a building. In fact, it can save upwards of 10 percent per year in energy savings (depending on daylight factors, a building’s width and orientation, etc.).

5) LOW-FLOW PLUMBING FIXTURES. A waterless urinal saves an average of 40,000 gallons of water a year. A dual-flush toilet can save an average of 16,000 to 20,000 gallons per year.

6) LOW- OR NO-VOC ADHESIVES, PAINTS AND SEALANTS. A building with no- or low-VOC materials provides a much healthier environment for a building’s inhabitants.

7) JOBSITE WASTE DIVERSION. DPR strives to recycle at least 75 percent of jobsite waste, diverting those materials from landfills.