McGraw Hill projects a 16 percent increase in commercial construction in 2011, and green building is also expected to continue to surge.
Kyle Bilafer, the Director of General Services for Cabarrus County, said his county is expecting to do more green building, and expects that trend to continue elsewhere.
“I think that is the way that all government is going to go,” he said. “Charlotte-Mecklenburg is already building LEED certified buildings, and if you look at what the state is mandating, that’s the direction to expect.”
North Carolina began N.C. Project Green in 1998, a program designed to encourage green building throughout the state government. The state has begun sustainable building policies, and those policies are now being implemented at the local level.
Sustainable buildings are a key part of Cabarrus County’s construction philosophy. According to Mike Downs, deputy county manager for Cabarrus County, that philosophy is geared toward keeping Cabarrus County ahead of the curve in constructing sustainable buildings.
“We want to be a leader in that regard,” he said. “If you want to push the movement toward sustainable buildings, you have to participate in the movement. We have the power to be the leader, but we also want to help to encourage the private sector to do the same.”
Bilafer said the county has several other reasons for pursuing green building as well.
“I would say our main reasons are to have less impact on the environment, better health effects on the people who will use the building, the cost savings involved, and having less of a carbon footprint,” he said.
Bilafer said the shift to green building can have an immediate impact on the environment, and said the cost benefits can make a big difference later.
“You’ll realize a lot of those savings later after the project has been completed,” he said. “But we’re committed to a sustainability effort from here on.”
Those sustainability efforts include the Cabarrus County Board of Elections building, that CM Black is expected to build this year. Justin Black, LEED AP for CM Black, said there will be many green initiatives with the project to encourage a sustainable approach to design.
The project will have several key tactics for sustainability. The project will:
- Track the percentage of waste to be recycled and diverted from landfills.
- Track Materials for Regional Priority, reducing fuel and trucking costs.
- Utilize Low Volatile Organic Compound products, to reduce exposure for occupants.
- Incorporate higher-efficiency Roof Top Units in its HVAC system and MERV 8 filters to virtually eliminate dust or other particles
- Utilize open space and day lighting
- Include Solar Tubes for natural sunlight, and use occupancy sensors for other lighting
- Feature FSC Certified Wood and other features inside to promote green philosophies.
Implementing those tactics should produce major results. According to the U.S. Green Building Council, green buildings can save up to 50 % on energy usage, 40% of water usage, and 50% or more of waste.
Bilafer said that what can be done depends on the building that is being constructed, but he said he expects green building to continue for years to come.
“You never have apples to apples comparison with buildings,” he said. “Some buildings have more limitations on what kind of green building practices you can implement. But the biggest thing for us is we want to maintain a building philosophy that prevents urban sprawl while having the least amount of impact on the environment and our resources.”