4 FM quick reads on interiors
1. The Benefits of Saving Space in Office Design
This is Casey Laughman, managing editor of Building Operating Management magazine. Today's tip is to look at how space needs to be used when designing an office.
It's still not easy being green, but it's easier now than it ever has been before. Market forces, voluntary rating systems and building codes have combined to make many products used as part of a sustainable office design more green than, say, five years ago. Practices such as optimizing daylight and installing occupancy sensors are now the norm, not the cutting edge, as the benefits have become clearly known.
Now, with wide-ranging improvements in other areas, facility managers are turning an eye toward one area that isn't covered in building codes — the space itself. Spurred by changes in how we work and the need for increased flexibility in where we work, facility managers are finding that when it comes to a sustainable office — and saving money at the same time — space truly is the final frontier.
When designing offices now, the key to sustainability is answering two deceptively simple questions: Who will occupy the space and what do they need it to do? After all, there's no need to dedicate workstations for a sales team that is in the office a few times a year. Instead, facility managers are turning to alternative work strategies like hoteling or use of spaces that can be used for collaborative work areas on a day-to-day basis and adapted as necessary when all hands are on deck.
That approach is not only inherently green, but also fiscally sound. After all, when you're talking about office planning, less really is more. If the options are an open workspace versus one that employs a lot of permanent walls, it's pretty clear which requires less material. In addition to offering a more collaborative workspace or a more flexible area for employees, an open floor plan requires fewer walls, which requires less drywall, less paint, fewer studs and less decoration. All of which, in turn, requires less money.
2. Variety of Carpet Options Can Earn LEED Points
In the world of carpet, capturing LEED points is a viable goal in a variety of categories. MR in LEED for New Construction (NC) is one example. LEED points for carpet selection can be gained by focusing on reuse, such as mandating the use of existing interior nonstructural floor covering elements in at least 50 percent of the completed building. The premise is to extend product lifecycles, conserve resources, retain cultural resources and reduce waste.
Up to two points are available under MR in LEED-NC if the project diverts construction and demolition debris from disposal in landfills and incineration facilities. The motivation is to re-direct recyclable recovered resources back to the manufacturing process and reusable materials to appropriate sites. Facility managers can help work toward LEED points regarding the use of carpet by mandating the recycling or salvaging of nonhazardous construction and demolition debris, establishing goals for diversion from disposal in landfills and incineration facilities, and adopting a construction waste management program. Still another one to two points can be had in the MR section if flooring materials are reused. Salvaged, refurbished or reused materials should constitute at least 5 percent of the total value of materials on the project. Materials with recycled content that make up at least 10 percent of the cost of the project materials also help capture LEED points.
Wood products have received a lot of attention lately, thanks to import issues from China. For LEED credits, points are available to encourage environmentally responsible forest management. In just one of several criteria dedicated to wood, LEED parameters require using a minimum of 50 percent (based on costs) of wood-based materials and products that are certified in accordance with the Forest Stewardship Council's principles and criteria for wood building components.
3. How to Choose the Right Paint
Dollar for dollar, paint can provide more of an impact within a space than almost any other element.
Of course, paint is more than merely decorative; it's also protective. As a starting point, it helps to know the differences between the types of paints available.
Several decades ago, oil-based paints were more common. Today, they largely have been phased out due to the ease of disposal and reduced application time that most latex paints can offer. In the paint world, latex refers to most water-based paints that use synthetic polymers, such as acrylic or vinyl acrylic, as binders.
Pure acrylic resins cost more than vinyl, but offer several benefits, including better washability and adhesion, along with resistance to water, cracking and blistering.
An all-acrylic paint is more flexible and less prone to brittleness. For exterior surfaces, acrylic paint does a better job of resisting UV-rays, and so won't fade as quickly as vinyl. That means that higher quality paints, which contain more acrylic, tend to cost more.
Along with its cost, facility managers who want to gauge the quality of a specific brand or type of paint can review the lists of products approved by the Master Painters Institute. These are available at the MPI's website, www.paintinfo.com, and are categorized by product type, such as latex interior flat finishes.
Another resource is ASTM International (www.astm.org), which develops international voluntary consensus standards.
4. Avoiding Pitfalls In LEED Certification For Interiors
This is Casey Laughman, managing editor of Building Operating Management. Today's tip is to be aware of potential pitfalls when trying to earn LEED certification for an interior space.
A common pitfall in pursuing LEED certification is that the actual awarding of certification comes after move-in. There is always the possibility that all credits will not be approved and a project could fall a point or two short of its target. It's best to plan to have a margin of a couple of extra points just in case. Also, credit appeals can extend the certification period well beyond project completion and contractor close-out, which can make locating requested project information challenging. All LEED submittal data should be obtained early along with shop drawings.
Some other of the most common LEED pitfalls are added costs, both soft and hard, and additional time compared to the traditional design and construction process. For example, a two-week air flush-out needs to be built into the schedule, as well as time for enhanced commissioning. If a planned flush-out becomes impractical because of summer or winter weather, the alternate is air testing, which is not a guaranteed point despite the need to pay test fees.
Slab curing and installation of carpeting with low VOC adhesive may also require additional time. The lesson here is to plan well in advance and schedule the sequencing of the work, such as painting before installing carpet and ceiling tiles to ensure good indoor air quality later, in a thoughtful manner.
Finally, there are risks of product failure. With hundreds of new green building products hitting the market every day, many are not proven. "Roadoyl" was a light paving alternative to asphalt introduced 10 years ago. After five years it deteriorated badly but the manufacturer was no longer in business. When bamboo flooring made its market debut, it was beautiful, cost-effective and sustainable. But all manufactured bamboo flooring is not created equal and softer products are prone to unsightly high-heel marks.
While it's always important to be careful of manufacturers that make unsubstantiated claims, there are trustworthy certifications for sustainable products from third parties such as Green Seal and Greenguard.