Sustainability has long been a priority within property management, spurred on in recent years by the increased awareness of environmental damage to our planet and the role that construction development plays in it. One of the thought leaders spearheading new innovations in eco-friendly property management and development is Public Services and Procurement Canada, the government’s real estate manager. Across the breadth of properties that they are responsible for nationwide, PSPC has strived to integrate a number of valuable environmentally conscious features, leading to an average energy consumption that is 50% lower compared to similar buildings, as well as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold or Platinum certification.
If you’re looking at upgrading your building’s eco-friendliness and obtaining your own LEED certification, we’ve compiled a handy guide to some of the ways the PSPC’s buildings are leading the charge.
One of the simplest ways of improving the eco-friendliness of your home is by reducing energy consumption and installing improved insulation. Though there are a variety of different options when it comes to insulation, studies have shown that all insulation types perform equally as well when properly installed and air sealed.
The most popular types of insulation are:
Made from glass cullet and other raw materials, melted and spun into fibres that resemble the texture of wool. This type of insulation is commonly found in sidewalks, attics, floors, crawl spaces, and basements. While it might look comfy at a glance, you should definitely be careful using this stuff, and try not to breath any of it in.
Stone, rock, or slag wool
Made from rock, blast furnace slag, and other raw materials that are melted and spun into wool-like fibres. Stone and slag insulation are basically made of the same materials produced in the same ways, the major difference between the two being the specific volumes of the raw materials used to make each.
This insulation type is composed mainly of fibres derived from paper, paperboard stock, or wood, and can be made with or without binders. Cellulose is unique in that it is chemically treated to resist fire, but this is not a standardized process and there is evidence that the fire resistance wears off over time.
This is a chemical-based insulation that is mixed on-site to create a foam that is applied with a sprayer into wall cavities and attics. The two main types of spray foam insulation are open and closed cell, the properties of which are dependent on the mixing process, the age of the chemicals, the air temperature and humidity during installation, and the temperature of the chemical storage.
One method that many property managers are turning to in order to make their buildings more aesthetic as well as eco-friendly is to incorporate green roofs. These are extensions or retrofits to existing roofs that add high quality water-proofing, root repellant systems, drainage systems, filter cloth, and a lightweight growing medium that allows greenery to be planted directly onto the roof’s surface. Some buildings, such as the Place Victoria Building in Gatineau, also incorporate native and adaptive plant species in their landscaping, eliminating the need for irrigation, one of the major causes of environmental damage across the landscaping and construction industries. As architectural trends gradually move away from the Brutalist monoliths and glass towers we’ve all grown accustomed to, integrating more green aspects into buildings has grown considerably in popularity.
Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger
The water collected from green roofs and effectively placed storm drains is also often used cyclically to keep all the greenery looking… green. Green roofs, for example, retain 70-90% of all precipitation during the summer, and 25-40% in the winter. This water can be repurposed for a variety of applications – for example, buildings such as the Jean Canfield Building in Charlottetown, the Normand Maurice Building in Montreal, and the aforementioned Place Victoria all use rainwater to flush their toilets. Similarly, the Headquarters for the “E” Division of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, located in Surrey, BC, features a pond that collects stormwater from the property, which is then used to water the plants on the building’s green roof and courtyard lawn.
Triple Pane Windows
Most current developments feature double-pane windows, also known as double-glazed or dual-pane windows. These are comprised of two panes of glass, often with an insulating layer of argon gas between them. While these windows have historically been an excellent upgrade from single-pane windows in terms of noise reduction, insulation, and cost-efficiency, an increasing number of new developments have begun upgrading to triple-pane windows, which – you guessed it – have an extra pane of glass and insulation gas. This extra layer not only offers more insulation, less condensation, and more soundproofing, it also opens up the opportunity for Low-E coating to be utilized. This coating, which looks like a film or window tint, drastically improves the efficiency and performance of the window.
Bicycle Storage and Green Commuting
As we’ve outlined before, one of the best ways to promote eco-friendliness and green living within your property is to promote it outside of your property. Many property managers have found that their tenants naturally gravitate to eco-friendly modes of commuting, for example, when the option is made available to them. Office buildings featuring accessible and safe bike storage and change facilities have been shown to lead to an uptick in tenants biking to work, and other form of eco-friendly commute options, such as dedicated carpool lanes, have also gently urged people to switch to more sustainable modes of travel. For those looking into the future of environmentally conscious commutes, EV charging stations are quickly becoming a hot commodity in the property development and management market, as electric vehicles have grown as a viable, eco-friendly alternative to traditional gasoline-powered cars.
Furthermore, in addition to encouraging green living and promoting cleaner alternatives to standard travel options, introducing sustainable commute alternatives also cuts down on parking garage space – this is especially significant as parking garage maintenance is often a money sink for property managers, as they require effective lighting and ventilation to remain safe for use, despite the fact that they are very sparsely populated for large portions of the average day. Cutting down the number of cars to be accounted for in this manner is ultimately the best way to mitigate environmental damage in addition to unnecessary maintenance costs.
These are just a few ways that property developers and managers are cultivating more eco-friendly spaces. For more information on how you can integrate these initiatives in your building, as well as a host of other innovative new fittings, give your friends at EAMA a call and find out what we can do to give you and your tenants peace of mind.