With the threat of climate-induced disasters increasing by the day, businesses are under mounting pressure from the government and a conscientious consumer base to quickly reduce their carbon footprint. This often starts with the development of commercial facilities that reduce energy consumption. In addition to the positive impact on the atmosphere, a carbon neutral office can help the business save money through reduced utility costs. Fortunately, there are many innovative building materials and construction best practices that are helping put the green design trend into overdrive. Keep reading as we explore some of the most sustainable construction practices in modern commercial spaces.

Open Interiors

The open interior concept has gained significant traction in recent years thanks to its utility in creating a more pleasant and inviting commercial ambience. However, it also has significant utility as a green design principle. Through fewer walls and interior obstructions, natural light can flow more freely through the space, reducing the reliance on electricity and artificial lighting methods.

In addition, open interiors are more favorable to customization. This allows businesses to quickly and efficiently reconfigure space to accommodate emergent needs without having to go through energy-intensive renovations. Equipping the building with portable glass partition walls and acoustic sound clouds to help reduce noise transfer are a couple of ideas for maximizing efficiency in an open office interior.

Functional Exteriors

Functional exteriors are another priority for modern commercial spaces. Not only do they provide an opportunity for building occupants to step outside and enjoy a change of scenery and fresh air, but they have significant benefits in terms of improving energy efficiency. When occupants are comfortable in the exterior environment, they will ultimately rely less on conditioned interiors to pass the time of day.

One major trend in the realm of functional exteriors is the construction of rooftop decks. Roof decks allow buildings in crowded urban spaces to maximize every inch of square footage and provide exterior space when adjacent lawn area is at a premium. Some of the more vanguard green roofing solutions even use plants and vegetation to provide insulation to the building, reduce contamination from stormwater runoff, and minimize the urban heat island effect.

Fortified Windows

It is incredibly common for modern commercial structures to feature a large amount of window space. Not only does it boost curb appeal over more drab exteriors, but it is a crucial component to pair with the open interior concept for maximizing natural light flow. With that said, a significant amount of window area can weaken the building envelope if not meticulously planned for. As such, it is critical to build modern commercial buildings with fortified window solutions, such as hurricane-grade storm windows. These windows use a durable steel frame and reinforced glass that can withstand winds up to 250 MPH and projectile impact up to 100 MPH. This guarantees that the glass will not crack and the frames will not deteriorate in the face of inclement weather conditions, preventing unwanted air transfer from occurring.

Innovative Framing

It is important to remember that energy efficient buildings are not just a product–they are an equal part process. Some of the world’s most highly efficient structures spend years trying to make up for the energy consumed during the construction process. Therefore, it is critical to think about energy efficiency from the moment you begin planning the building to the end of the building’s useful life. A great way to get a head start on a sustainable project is by using tilt-up ICF framing panels. Not only does ICF create a high thermal mass, continuous insulation barrier for the building’s walls, but they can be erected in a fraction of the time of traditional insulated wood panels, reducing the amount of resources consumed during the framing process.

Durable Flooring

The flooring in commercial buildings gets put to the test quite unlike the flooring in residential structures. It will simply face a much greater volume of foot and machine traffic. Choose heavy-duty flooring products such as polished concrete or epoxy terrazzo to answer the call. These materials have incredible tensile strength and load-bearing capacity, allowing them to hold up under all circumstances. To further enhance their sustainability, consider applying a subfloor radiant heating system to evenly distribute heat and keep the commercial building at a comfortable temperature without having to rely on energy-guzzling forced-air systems.

The Most Sustainable Building Practices for Commercial Spaces

With contemporary businesses under increased scrutiny for their sustainability efforts, it is paramount that they get off on the right foot by employing eco-friendly design practices. From crafting open interiors to installing heavy-duty flooring materials, there are numerous ideas for architects to design modern commercial spaces that answer the bell in terms of sustainability. For more of the latest trends shaping the commercial construction industry, explore the resources at Construction Daily for the leading insights in the industry!