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Green Building: A Doorstep to Sustainable Industrial Development

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Sk. Mohammad Raafi,

Research Assistant, Textile Focus

Specific site is required to physically run a manufacturing or processing plant, which directly influences the operating cost, workforce’s productivity, brand value and so on. The smooth continuation of business operations is also getting harder due to energy crisis and pollution. Energy-efficient building along with proper utilization of natural resources can facilitate the global transition towards sustainable, low-carbon environment.

Why to Go Green?

‘Green Building (GB)’ is typically a recognized construction project that is environmentally responsible, functionally efficient in its architecture to create positive vibes on people, profit and planet. The motivating factors behind green building are mostly customer demand, environmental regulations, market demand and right things to do. Green Building ultimately results in lower operating costs by cutting energy and utility bills. Proper documentation & authorized certification works as a valuable asset to provide quality assurance of the deliverables of an industrial green building.

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Figure 1: Key Considerations of a Green Building

Social Significances for Building Green

Green building is a vital element to encourage sustainable business practices. Besides creating a sense of community, major significance goes to promote improved health & well-being and scale up the productivity of employees working in a green site. Even a 1% improvement in the productivity of any competitive business can result in remarkable outcome. Well-ventilated, green, ambient workplace has been proven to significantly increase the cognitive scores of the employees. According to a report by World Green Building Council (WGBC), distracting noise can drastically reduce the performance of staffs to as high as 66%. Active design of a green building supports its employees to maintain their fitness even at their workplace. When the opportunity of enjoying scenic nature is available within a green project, about 10% boost in employee performance has been found. Sustainable sites have trouble-free access to public transportation, parking facility etc. also.

‘Green Building’ from the perspective of Competitive Advantage

Considering the ‘Resource-based’ view and Total Quality Management (TQM), firms those are skillful at managing and leading organizational resources intellectually, technically, financially and improve continuously for quality enhancement of products and services at reduced costs- have greater chance to acquire competitive advantage and succeed in the marketplace.

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Figure 2: Matrix of Competitive Environmental Strategies

From Figure 2, it can be realized that there is an opportunity to shift from ‘Strategy 2-Beyond Compliance Leadership’ to ‘Strategy 4- Environmental Cost Leadership’ by embracing ‘Green Building’. Besides increasing internal efficiency, companies that follow Strategy-2 reap the goodwill, trust from the customers as well as the general public. But, if the buyers are convinced to pay fairly more, then the position can be reached at Strategy-4.

Worldwide GB Rating System

Many green building rating systems have been introduced globally to evaluate and measure the performance of buildings so that they can be competitively improved with minimized impact on the environment. Though green building activity is increasing day-by-day but is not always certified. Some well-known examples of such rating systems comprise-

  1. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)
  2. Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM)
  3. Green Star
  4. Comprehensive Assessment System for Built Environment Efficiency (CASBEE)
  5. Deutsches Gütesiegel Nachhaltiges Bauen (DGNB)
  6. Building Environmental Assessment Method (BEAM)
  7. Green Mark
  8. Green Globes
  9. Green Building Index (GBI)
  10. Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS)
  11. Pearl

Among these, the LEED system, developed and managed by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) is the most widely used rating system nationally and internationally. Platinum, Gold, Silver and Certified ratings are provided under LEED, based on green building attributes.

Green Building Strategies

Since every industry is to be built in a customized way focusing its output and capability so there is no hard and fast, final green solution that should be implemented. Green buildings should be harmonized with the neighboring climate, traditions, cultural priorities and the surrounding environment.

Sustainable Site Planning: Generally, it charges more to execute efficiency retrofitting to a previously built inefficient building. So before finalizing the building design, the site should be critically assessed in terms of land quality, environmental sensitivity, resiliency to flooding, earthquakes etc. Transportation facility and distance to amenities are to be considered.

Smart Architecture: There should be a perfect blend of aestheticism, functionality and safety in the building design. Shape, orientation and positioning of windows have to be optimized according to the geographical location, to make the best use of daylight and solar heat. The layout should account of employees’ productivity and health by ensuring fresh indoor air quality through ventilation, proper sound insulation. Green roofs, façade greenery and even building integrated constructed wetlands are present in elegant structural designs. Presence of deciduous trees in the premises helps in selectively casting shadow in the summer and let the light pass during winter. Different species offer fruit, pharmaceuticals, wood, and attract insects for pollination.

Flexible Structures and Eco-friendly Materials: Due to high level of embodied energy and temperature-hungry production processes, many building materials including reinforcing materials & thermal insulating substances covering concrete, cement, aluminium, glass, petrochemical based plastics etc. increase GHG emissions, unhealthy environment. Therefore, nature based solutions (NBS), bio-composites etc. are acquiring dominant position from building foundation to decoration. Compact wooden structures, bamboo piles, mud or clay made walls/floors, cork or bark induced flooring/insulation, paper-board doors etc. are few common applications. Green insulation by recycled fabrics is also known.

Using the concept of earthen pots for cooling water and inspired by beehives, an architect in India has developed a series of clay pots for cooling air (Figure 3). Water is poured on top of the tubes which can be re-feed. When scorching heat of air comes in contact with the stacked pots, temperatures drop.

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Figure 3: Natural Air-cooling System based on Earthen Pots (Source- Ant Studio)

Scholars from Purdue University have recently showcased their heat-rejecting paints to cool down the surfaces (especially rooftops). The calcium carbonate made paint is able to keep surfaces up to 18°F cooler by sending heat away from the building and it absorbs little to no solar energy, reducing energy waste & CO2 emission.

Employing Renewable Energy: Abundant solar and wind energy can be utilized intelligently in producing electricity. Rooftop solar panels are getting very common in the industries. Sufficient power generating, durable and portable solar panels are also available that can be unrolled and powered up in immediately 2 minutes.

Just a simple roof modification with advanced lens system, sun-ray can be effectively captured from all angles while rejecting overpowering midday summer sun (Figure 4). Through special tubing, the light is transmitted and beautifully dispersed all over the interior. This system also serves as solar powered LED lamps at night. Electrical current generating glass panels that are made of photovoltaic layer of dye-sensitized solar cells could be one of the best options for windows.

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Figure 4: Sunlight Catching Direct Interior Illuminating System (Source- Solatube International)

Wind travels in a very messy way in urban areas. It is not wise to set-up conventional, large wind turbines in the factory premises. But latest invented, omnidirectional shaped wind turbines can catch up wind from any direction and capable of producing clean electricity from its built-in generator (Figure 5). These space-saving Vertical Axis Wind Turbines can be attached easily to any suitable structure inside the industry.

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Figure 5: Highly Effective Modified Wind Turbines (Source: Left- Alpha 311, Right- James Dyson Foundation)

Water Efficient Schemes: Responsible use of freshwater is mainly governed by innovative indoor water usage, preventing misuse, water monitoring, using efficient fittings, greywater re-use, rainwater harvesting and water conservation fixtures etc.

Disinfected and sufficiently treated discharged water from toilets (black water) and greywater (discharged from sinks, showers, baths) can be used in toilet flushing as well as in sub-surface irrigation for landscape. Additionally, plants requiring less water are most suitable for landscape. Use of mulches will maintain the moisture of soil and control weed.

Little investment in harvesting safe and mostly uncontaminated rainwater could save major time and cost of extensive groundwater treatment using chemicals. Depending on geographic location, mesh fabric made nets can be easily installed in the building premises, requiring little to no maintenance. Without any chemical, fuel or electricity, small droplets in the humid air are caught by the mesh and run into a tank. Eye-catching water reservoir can also serve fast in case of any fire hazard.

Challenges to Amplify Green Building Activities

Adopting green building activities is becoming one of the very few options that an industry must need to sustain. But uncertainty and difficulty in evaluating the added financial value of green buildings often deprive it to find financial support/incentives. Owing to the higher perceived first cost, the perception of green is merely for high-end projects. The firms often don’t have appropriate consultancy and guidelines due to the lack of trained & knowledgeable green building professional.

However, companies still can be profitable by adopting eco-friendly technology without sacrificing any substantial amount of profit. Regarding Bangladesh RMG sector, international buyers always demand sustainable production; yes that should be. But, despite the highest number of green factories in the world, the absence of ethical green pricing from buyers is totally frustrating. Establishing a win-win situation between buyers and suppliers will lead to increase the number of green factories.

References:

  1. usgbc.org
  2. ‘Towards Zero-Emission Efficient and Resilient Buildings’, WABC Global Status Report, 2016.
  3. ‘World Green Building Trends 2016- Developing Markets Accelerate Global Green Growth’, Dodge Data & Analytics.
  4. ‘Building the Business Case: Health, Wellbeing and Productivity in Green Offices’, WGBC, 2016.
  5. ‘World Green Building Trends 2018’, Dodge Data & Analytics.
  6. ‘Renewables 2019- Global Status Report’, Ren21.
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