Green interiors

Whether it be the installation of the latest waterless urinal or sending waste paper to a recycle plant, everything interior can play its part in achieving some LEED points.

ANALYSIS, Design

Indoor air quality

A building's indoor air quality can be affected by many entities.

From paint odours to natural airflow, the air in which employees breath can have an effect on how they perform.

"In Dubai, we spend around 95% of our time indoors.

If the air isn't maintained to the correct level, the people indoors will be affected, for example, breathing problems.

"The air you breathe affects your body and your performance. Good air quality increases employee productivity and reduces their downtime," explains Joe Kashou, CEO, Axess.

Although a lot of the work to sustain quality indoor air is done during construction, for example, the positioning of windows for daylight and the installation of air conditioning systems, there are some areas an FM can help with. For example, using a paint, choosing a finish or selecting a carpet that doesn't emit volatile organic compounds (VOC).

In a region where smoking is common in the workplace, legislation has been implemented to stop smoke from polluting the air people breath. FMs should display signs labelling non-smoking areas.

Lighting

Lighting is an area FMs can play a huge part in. Using energy efficient, long-life lamps will reduce energy consumption, maintenance and costs. Reducing the number of lamps used, FMs will throw away less.

"Cost benefits will be achieved in the long term if developers work with FM companies and designers from an early design stage. While the initial outlay may be capital intensive, the long-term savings from less maintenance and operational costs have proven to be reduced," says Nathan Peek, Middle East manager, Aura Lighting Systems.

"Fluorescent lamps are one of the most energy efficient light sources as they produce one of the best light output per watt ratios. This will give you more light for your money."

However, simple changes like introducing lighting sensors can again, help reduce costs and energy consumption, especially in low traffic areas. Peek states that around 20% of the world's power in consumed by lighting. "Lighting plays an integral part in green building concepts. Using energy efficient solutions such as lighting control solutions can help reduce this figure."

LEDs (light-emitting diodes) are another popular choice for FMs. Although not as efficient as fluorescent lamps, LEDs can last 100,000 hours - around 20 years.
 

Recycling

Recycling is a tricky one in the Middle East. With recycling plants being few and far between, companies can face a dilemma if there is no-where to send used, damaged or unwanted equipment.

However, The Sharjah Environment Company has recently launched the Emirates' first commercial recycling programme and wiht the Dubai Recycling Park underway, the UAE now realises that landfills are not the solution.

So what can FMs do to help the environment and earn a couple of extra LEED points?

"When it comes to waste, the first step towards achieving efficient levels of recycling is separation. The introduction of a holistic waste management system for a building, that defines recycling as the ultimate objective for the generated waste, is the best help a decision maker can push for to make a building recycling friendly," explains Mohamed Nassar, managing partner, WMS Green.

"Such a decision is normally taken by engineers/owners of buildings under development. But facilities managers are equally capable of taking such decisions for properties within their portfolio."

Although recycling isn't always a major point-puller for LEED, the few points if offers could mean the difference between a higher and lower class rating.

Providing staff with recycle bins in the office can help as a positive step.

But the message should be spread by management and show that they are serious about making that effort.

Sanitary ware

There are many ways facilities managers can help reduce water consumption, cut costs and give users a more comfortable experience, while earning green credits.

"Facilities managers can help reduce water consumption and costs through the installation of intelligent electronic washbasin faucets and urinal flush control systems and the use of dual-flush (six or three litre) WC cisterns or flush mechanisms," says Guy Wilson, head of the Gulf region, Geberit.

Although products like these can be costly, Wilson says that water saving does not compromise on convenience, hygiene or attractiveness. He says that the return on investment has been proven in many projects.

"The ongoing cost savings are a great motivating factor, even apart from the environmental considerations. Dual-flush cisterns and flushing mechanisms offer water saving benefits at no extra costs over traditional systems," he claims.

If products like Geberit's range are installed correctly, they could have an indefinite lifespan.

Maintenance is minimal and fault detection can be indicated to maintenance staff by the use of LEDs (light emitting diodes).
 

Furniture

When looking for furniture, facilities managers should enquire about the manufacturing process, from start to finish, before making any decisions.

Things to look out for are companies who think about the materials they use and the process behind making the furniture.

Also, manufacturers using recycled and/or recyclable materials show committment to environmental issues.

It is also important for the company to adopt processes that support clean water and air and use minimal energy, recycle excess materials and use environmentally friendly packaging.

If cost is an issue, as it is with most green manufacturing companies, a lifetime guarantee could help persuade management to invest.

"Everything is driven by the understanding of the buyer. Here, sadly, the buyer doesn't really care about LEED and the environment," says Kashou.

"We guarantee our products for life. The problem is that a lot of people here look at buying furniture as an expense instead of an asset."

FMs can gain LEED points by sourcing ‘green' manufacturers. Although, companies in the Middle East are mainly having to import this specific type of furniture.

"There are few manufacturers here that manufacture in a green way. The major ones do. But that only covers 20% of the market, what about the other 80%?

"FMs should look out for manufacturers who are Greenguard certified or have an environmental awareness policy. Most of the major manufacturers are green certified and they can tell you how many credits you can gain by using them," he explains.

By using recycled materials, when they come to the end of their life they can by recycled again, reducing the need for raw materials.

FMs tasked with buying new furniture should think carefully before sending the old stuff to the landfill. Just because the office is in need of a facelift, doesn't mean the old furniture is no good. It could be donated to schools or charities.

Case study

Deira City Centre - MAF Dalkia

Contract start date: November 2002

Size: 268,000m2

Type of development: Retail, residential, offices, hotel, and parking MAF Dalkia started work on energy consumption as soon as it was awarded the contract.

The two areas of focus were the chillers and lighting.

Action

Regular preventative maintenance and corrective maintenance was put in place and a building management system controlled the operations through the night.

The chilled water and condensed water temperatures were reset and an in-house tube cleaning system was implemented.The chillers operating hours were reduced and energy control was set.

Air handling units and fresh air handling units had their schedules set for controlling operations during the night. MAF Dalkia chose to start using high efficiency lamps for internal operation and add control to the outdoor lighting.

Year on year, Deira City Centre has seen a reduction in energy consumption. In 2002, the common areas of the complex were consuming around 73,000mWh.

This figure was reduced to around 56,000mWh in 2006.

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