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Sustainable Design Ideas for Your Workplace

By: Derek Malmquist, Vice President of Sales and Marketing

Dec. 2, 2016

Creating sustainable and green buildings is the core of modern architecture and design. Achieving LEED certification is no longer a nice to have, it’s a must have.

Green Building Growth in the Commercial Sector

According to the “World Green Building Trends” SmartMarket report, commercial construction, including offices, is the top sector for green building growth globally, with 46 percent of respondents expecting to do a green commercial project in the next three years.

In Philadelphia, a new 189,000 square-foot Class A commercial office building is setting the example for the future of sustainable building. 3.0 University Place, is the world’s first commercial office building to be pre-certified as LEED v4 Platinum. The façade of the building will feature 50,000 square feet of SageGlass dynamic glass as well as a number of other green features, setting the precedent for corporate and environmental responsibility as well as offering office spaces that align with the values of socially responsible millennials. Some of these sustainable features include a rooftop garden, efficient heating and cooling systems, and common-area power.

3 Sustainable Workplace Design Ideas for Commercial Buildings

Using 3.0 University Place as an extraordinary example of green building, here are three sustainable design ideas to consider for your next project.

1.     Create a Rooftop Garden

Rooftop gardens improve air quality, conserve energy and reduce runoff. Rooftop gardens soak up pollutants, which is especially important in densely-packed cities, to create healthier air quality for your employees. They are also capable of absorbing up to 80 percent of rainwater to prevent potential flooding. Adding a rooftop garden to your project can help it achieve LEED v4 certification in a variety of categories, including Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy and Optimization, and Materials and Resources, guaranteeing  at least 2 LEED points as long as the greenery covers 50 percent or more of the roof. The design of 3.0 University Place will include a rooftop garden, featuring iconic views of the Philadelphia skyline.           

2.     Install Dynamic Glass

Windows are a necessary element of any office, but they also negatively impact a building’s energy-efficiency. Low e-glass windows absorb heat, resulting in the need to blast air conditioning in the office, which in-turn results in increasingly expensive energy bills. Dynamic glass, which will be installed on the façade of 3.0 University Place, combats this issue by controlling sunlight to optimize daylight, outdoor views and comfort while preventing glare, fading and overheating. By blocking sunlight on hot days, SageGlass dynamic glass dramatically reduces energy demand, the need for HVAC. By allowing natural sunlight into the office space, dynamic glass reduces over-reliance on overhead electrical systems.

 3. Choose High-Efficiency LED Lighting  

LED is an energy-efficient technology and LED light bulbs are more durable than the traditional bulb and offer comparable or better light quality than other types of lighting. LED lighting uses at least 75 percent less energy and lasts 25 times longer than incandescent lighting, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. In addition, LEDs emit very little heat, providing a more comfortable workplace environment. 3.0 University Place will incorporate high-efficiency LED lighting; however, to take this sustainable technology to the next level, the LED lighting will be connected to sophisticated lighting controls that turn off lights when they are not needed in order to further reduce energy usage. Interestingly, lighting tends to offer a faster payback at a less cost, as compared to high-efficiency heating, cooling, or plumbing systems, in order to help buildings achieve LEED v4 certification, according to General Electric Corporation. LEED v4 also provides credits for using lighting controls to optimize energy use throughout the day.

Create A Greener Future with Sustainable Commercial Design

Overall, there are a variety of ways offices can aim to decrease energy consumption to create a more sustainable and environmentally friendly space. With commercial buildings accounting for approximately 40 percent of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States, it is time to follow 3.0 University Place’s lead to employ some of these sustainability techniques to create a greener future.