Measuring green: Commercial buildings give back to the planet

We have heard “go green” for decades and now that the global pandemic has emphasized building health, that theme is beginning to resonate with more people.

In fact, developers are now going even further with “deep green” buildings. The commercial buildings that take on this new approach will uphold higher environmental standards.

If your building has not been making green initiatives before now, it may seem difficult to find where to even begin. Resources are available to make the transition towards a green building as smooth and easy as possible.

Earlier this year, Sloan announced the launch of their new sustainability resources, which include a sustainability calculator, transparency and carbon neutral initiatives brochure, green product finder, product rebate finder, and a sustainable product chart.

Sloan sustainability resourcesResource information
Sustainability CalculatorThis feature allows users to calculate water savings based on the input of a specific Sloan product. The calculator tabulates a building’s water usage utilizing Sloan products compared to the LEED baseline through gallons per flush, flushes per day and overall water use.
Transparency and Carbon Neutral Initiatives BrochureSloan’s brochure details its commitment to sustainability in three key areas: environmental impact, people’s safety and wellness and product verification. By outlining the importance of product transparency through Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs), Health Product Declarations (HPDs), carbon neutrality and more – and how Sloan products are developed in accordance – readers are better educated on the environmental impact of their product specification.
Green Product FinderSloan’s new resource lists each of the certifications and credits for its entire lineup of sustainable commercial restroom products.
Product Rebate FinderWith a map covering the entire United States, users can locate specific product rebates in their region.
Sustainable Product ChartSloan offers more sustainable products per category than any other plumbing manufacturer. The chart outlines each of Sloan’s sustainable products per category, detailing everything from their EPD products to their LEED v4 and v4.1 credits.
Source: Sloan Sustainability Resource Launch Press Release

LEED vs. WELL

Both LEED and WELL focus on the conscious effort made towards health and sustainability in your building, but they are very different rating systems. LEED is the impact that the building makes on the environment, while WELL is how the building impacts its occupants.

“The widely used LEED certification program, administered by the U.S. Green Building Council [USGBC], has evolved since it was introduced in the 1990s,” said a New York Times story. “If its lowest certification level can be said to yield light-green buildings, the organization’s most rigorous “platinum” level pushes buildings to be a darker green.”

The most recent update to the LEED system is LEED v4.1, however LEED v3 and LEED v4 rating systems are still active today. What sets the newest version apart from the rest is the prioritization of the people who occupy the buildings as it focuses on materials, human comfort, air quality, and human health.

Occupant-driven standards have been picking up traction in recent years. The International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) developed the WELL rating system by integrating scientific and medical research on environmental health, behavior, health outcomes, and demographic risk factors that affect health.  

The perception of cost

Making the transition to a green building will cost more upfront, but the upfront costs should not change your mind on going green. It actually doesn’t cost much more to build green until you begin to delve into deep green initiatives, like a specialized bioswale, which filters polluted storm water that gushes from a downspout on the bridge to a nearby lake where salmon swim.

Turner Construction’s green guru Rod Wille, the company’s senior vice president of sustainable construction, says basic green design doesn’t have to cost more. “Good-quality building with basic LEED certification as a goal shouldn’t cost any more money. If you want to go to a higher level of green, such as photovoltaics, underfloor air distribution, or something more exotic, it’s going to cost more,” he said to Buildings. “Most of the designers we work with do the right thing in the first place to make the building well-insulated, and specify good mechanical systems, good lighting, and materials that are non-toxic. Most designers are doing that as a matter of standard procedure.”

After the upfront costs are taken care of, the building’s monthly energy costs will begin to drop. The savings can be significant, especially the further towards deep green you go.

Sloan says that sustainability has been important to their company since the very beginning. Its founder, William Elvis Sloan, designed a flushometer in 1906 to replace the tank and chain fixtures that were commonly used at the time, and it used significantly less water.

Now, over a hundred years later, flushometers are flushing with less than a third of the water required for that original Sloan flushometer. New innovations and regulations have made sustainability become mainstream.

What was once considered “green” years ago could be considered wasteful and no longer green. The same could be said in coming years for the standard systems in your own building.

The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized building health, personal health, and air quality. Taking the next step in sustainability to reap the health benefits only further popularizes green initiatives.

Don’t wait. Find out for yourself why green is here to stay.

Find a variety of green items in Best Plumbing Specialties’ Green Shop to start the switch to green.  

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