Photo: Whirlpool Corporation
Green building is a trend that is on the upswing. The number of global builders that have at least 60 percent of their projects certified green will double from 2015 to 2018, predicts the World Green Building Trends. By 2023, commercial building owners and managers will have invested an estimated $960 billion globally on making their existing built infrastructure green. The global building sector continues to double every three years, according to the Dodge Data & Analytics World Green Building Trends 2016 SmartMarket Report.
Buildings in the US account for nearly 40 percent of national carbon emissions, 39 percent of total energy use, 30 percent of landfill waste, and 12 percent of total water use. LEED certified buildings use 25 percent less energy and 11 percent less water. They also reduce operational costs by 19 percent, and have 34 percent less carbon emissions. LEED-certified buildings in the US between 2015 and 2018 will have an estimated $1.2 billion in energy savings, $149.5 million in water savings, $715.2 million in maintenance savings and $54.2 million in waste savings.
Whirlpool Corporation is a company that understands the importance of green building. The company, known for its kitchen appliances, was recently awarded LEED certification for two of its recent building projects in Benton Harbor, Michigan. They are the 14th and 15th LEED-certified projects for the company since 2009. In both projects, water saving restroom fixtures were installed, including ultra low flow valves and toilets. Those fixtures will reduce water use by 40 percent for both facilities, with about 1,071 thousand gallons saved at the Riverview Campus, and about 697 thousand gallons at the Global Headquarters.
Both Whirlpool building projects also save energy. The Riverview Campus features a central plant heating and cooling system with a building management system, and has high-efficiency interior and exterior lighting. Both buildings make good use of open space, which reduces heat island effect and increases stormwater infiltration. The Global Headquarters has almost 284,000 square feet of vegetated green space outside.
General Motors is another company that gets the importance of green building. In 2013, the car company joined the Department of Energy’s Better Buildings partnership, a group of over 900 organizations with the goal of becoming 20 percent more energy efficient over the next decade. Companies participating in the partnership are committed to cumulatively reduce carbon emissions by 3.47 million metric tons and save $3.1 billion. GM’s participation has resulted in significant water savings; it surpassed its Better Buildings challenge of reducing water intensity by 20 percent by 2020 by reducing it by 28 percent.
GM’s Flint Assembly plant will soon use reverse osmosis (RO) machines during the purification process. The RO machines will create a stream of highly concentrated waste water that the plant will use to help filter air in the paint booth instead of sending the waste water to industrial waste. The process will save the plant 7.5 million gallons of water and $100,000 a year. There are other GM facilities that use RO reject water in a similar manner.
Green buildings save water, energy, reduce carbon and bring cost savings. Whirlpool and GM show how business can lead the way in caring for the environment through greening their buildings.
Photo: Whirlpool Corporation
Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.