Sustainable Facilities

Sustainable Facilities
tim king Facilities/architectural service practice leader
Many factors go into helping a new or retrofitted building be compatible with not only its occupants but the surrounding community as well.
What market drivers are guiding today’s facilities?

With fewer resources and reduced staff, clients are asking firms to fill new roles and organize teams to finance, design, build and operate their facilities. They want a partner who understands their goals and objectives, and can provide services that include finding the most creative use of their money, improving work envi­ron­ments for their employees, building better rela­tion­ships with community stake­hold­ers, and making sure envi­ron­men­tal impact is reduced or kept to a minimum. Other drivers include lowering long-term operation and maintenance costs and achieving community buy-in for a project.

How are facilities addressing client needs for sustain­abil­ity?

More and more, old buildings are being adapted for clients. Adaptive reuse of facilities not only saves money, but it also creates good public perception—communities are happy when a structure can still be used for good versus being torn down. In terms of materials, there is more creative reuse of components today. Repurposing plastics, metals, concrete, glass and materials cuts costs for clients and helps them achieve green standards or LEED® certi­fi­ca­tion.

When discussing work envi­ron­ments with clients, I always discuss lighting, view and daylight. Studies show that interior work envi­ron­ments with lots of sunlight, clean air circulation and the ability to control temper­a­tures increase employees’ produc­tiv­ity and the perception of the workplace. It is about breaking the mold of only people in offices with windows getting daylight while those farther inside are in the dark. It is important to prove to clients that these types of facilities can be created without losing any necessary func­tion­al­ity.

As we advance in sustainable thinking, we go from the narrow perspective of what we are doing inside our own building to thinking about how the facility can benefit everyone in the surrounding area.
How can clients make fa­cil­i­ties more re­silient in today’s changing en­vi­ron­ment? 

By being as in­de­pen­dent as possible at their facility. Clients now have their own pho­to­voltaic systems and collect their own rain­wa­ter or grey­wa­ter for ir­ri­ga­tion or washing vehicles. If a facility can at least par­tially stay in power when power grids or other systems go down, then it is in business.

There also has to be an un­der­stand­ing of how a facility connects to the larger com­mu­nity ecosys­tem, like public trans­porta­tion, density and di­ver­sity. As we advance in sus­tain­able thinking, we go from the narrow per­spec­tive of what we are doing inside our own building to thinking about how the facility can benefit everyone in the sur­round­ing area, and this may mean the facility provides a new service or benefit to the sur­round­ing com­mu­nity.

What is the future of fa­cil­i­ties? 

The trend is toward more strin­gent and efficient LEED buildings. Building systems, specif­i­cally, are becoming more so­phis­ti­cated, and I would be sur­prised if in the near future we do not have more in­tel­li­gent au­to­mated systems because of the energy savings they bring. There will be a point when building en­velopes will react to changing climate con­di­tions. They will rec­og­nize when it is the perfect tem­per­a­ture outside and the wall systems or glazed windows will let in air or adapt to block the sun during hotter days.

In terms of the re­la­tion­ship between firms and clients, there may be a point when a firm can offer a facility in every single respect—from de­sign­ing and man­u­fac­tur­ing the building and its com­po­nents to financing and construct­ing it. The more resources offered by a firm, the better the response time, quality and ac­count­abil­ity will be for clients.

Timothy L. King, AIA, LEED AP, is a reg­is­tered ar­chi­tect with more than 20 years of ex­pe­ri­ence in public and private planning and design and has been a LEED-ac­cred­ited pro­fes­sional since 2006. He has managed transit fa­cil­i­ties, lab­o­ra­to­ries and design-build in­dus­trial projects and has served as a LEED ad­min­is­tra­tor and champion on five LEED-certified (gold and silver) projects.

Tim King Tim King
As we advance in sustainable thinking, we begin to look at how the facility can benefit the surrounding community.
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