Burlington, Ontario’s Kevin Gray Discusses the Impacts of Integrating Building Design and Operation of Buildings
The design of a building plays a key role in determining the costs associated with the operation of it. Thus, Kevin Gray, a leader in the facilities management industry and a facilities manager in Burlington, Ontario, claims that integrated building design is an essential process if one wishes to lower the operating cost of a building. Integrated design is a collaborative effort between various design experts and structural engineers. However, all team members have the same goal in mind: to build an energy-saving and cost-effective office space with an indoor work environment that is comfortable, healthy, and conducive to productivity. Below, Kevin Gray weighs in on the most significant benefits of integrated building design.
Reduced Lease Rates for Businesses
A building that has been constructed using the integrated design process is more energy-efficient, yielding significantly lower utility costs than the average property built in the last several decades. In turn, these reduced utility costs save property managers money, allowing them to offer lower rental rates to prospective tenants. Thinking longer term, these reduced leases will not only attract tenants but will help to retain them, meaning less uncertainty and turnover for the property manager. In this sense, Kevin Gray claims, integrated building design is a mutually beneficial process for all parties involved.
As a Canadian living in Burlington, Ontario, Kevin Gray understands the importance of energy efficiency when using an integrating building design. With Canadian winters being notoriously volatile and extremely cold, it is of upmost importance to ensure energy-efficiency. Kevin Gray discusses the ENERGY STAR® multifamily high-rise (new construction) pilot program which in partnership with Natural Resources Canada, will recognize buildings in Ontario that are designed 15% more energy efficient than those built to the traditional provincial building code and other program requirements. This program has been implemented to encourage builders to adopt energy-efficient practices, which translates to building owners and operators receiving certification for lowered operating costs and thus a greater income due to increased rental value.
Increased Employee Productivity
According to Kevin Gray, increased productivity is one of the most relevant yet overlooked benefits of integrated building design. The overall goal of the integrated design process is to not only ensure an energy-efficient space, but also one that is inviting, comfortable, and healthy for the employees who will be working there daily. Kevin Gray asserts that the impact of certain office designs, such as lighting, temperature, ventilation, noise, colours, and furniture, on the productivity and morale of workers are not to be underestimated. For example, a study of 40 buildings reported a direct correlation between better air quality and the number of sick days taken by employees. Employees who worked in these 40 buildings with improved air quality took on average, 1.6 less sick days each per year.
Lesser Environmental Impact
As climate change becomes a pressing issue around the globe, individuals as well as businesses are beginning to consider what measures they can adopt to reduce their energy consumption and lower their carbon footprint. Kevin Gray claims that work spaces which have benefited from integrated building design have proven to consume less than half the energy of the typical office building. Thus, integrated design is an attractive option for those businesses who take their environmental impact seriously. More specifically, the integrated design process helps to lessen the environmental impact of a building through its implementation of systems that reduce energy waste and recover wasted energy.
Upon close examination, there are often a myriad of unnecessary ways in which office spaces are consuming energy. Environmental agencies have worked to identify various energy-efficient technologies, such as computers, printers, photocopiers, and even lighting fixtures and HVAC services that are automatically switched off by way of sensors when there is inactivity. According to Kevin Gray, adopting technology with these features, such as personal computers that enter a low energy “sleep” mode when not being used, can amount to a reduction in energy consumption of 50%.
In terms of the recovery of waste energy, this is a cost-effective process whereby the thermal energy expelled by the building via exhaust systems or air-conditioning condensers can be recovered through appropriately positioned heat exchangers. One example of this is how a heat exchanger can recuperate waste heat from an air-conditioning system and then recycle it to produce hot water for the building.