There are nearly 5.6 million commercial buildings across the United States, which generate approximately 16% of greenhouse gas emissions. In order to reduce the environmental impact of these commercial facilities, even the smallest eco-friendly renovation shouldn’t be overlooked, as it can create positive change. In fact, according to the U.S. EPA’s ENERGY STAR program, if energy efficiency among commercial buildings improved by just 10%, there could be a total cost savings of about $40 billion, not to mention the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that would be prevented. Following are three renovations may not only reduce a commercial building’s carbon footprint, but even help save money over the long-term:
Install vegetated roofing. Vegetated roofs offer a host of environmental and functional benefits to facility management staff, ranging from stormwater management and creation of new usable space to air quality improvements and, of course, significant energy savings. Vegetated roof systems provide shade and aid in cooling the air around the building through evapotranspiration. This reduces the pressure put on a facility’s mechanical heating and cooling systems for the floor directly below the vegetated roof, resulting in significant energy savings.
However, the actual thermal performance varies widely and is dependent upon factors including building design, time of year, depth of media, vegetation type and coverage, and amount of water held within the system. Nonetheless, these energy savings are real; they’re a dividend on the initial investment in a vegetated roof. Vegetated roofs also help protect the underlying roof system from extreme temperatures and ultraviolet rays, extending its service life and saving money from a roof replacement or restoration.
In addition to energy savings, installing a vegetated roof offers ample stormwater management benefits. A vegetated roof system reduces the volume of stormwater runoff, which helps alleviate the stress put on infrastructure. This is of importance in urban areas because excess stormwater runoff is the major contributor to non-point source pollution, stream bank erosion, and the cost to treat the water. Vegetated roofing mimics the role that soil and vegetation play in a natural setting by absorbing the water and eliminating impervious surfaces.