Monday, February 22, 2010

Green offices come to Cayman

By Basia Pioro
The Observer

With the new Government Office Accommodation Building set to open its doors in the not-too-distant future, it’s fair to say the green office has arrived in Cayman. But despite hearing talk of green this and green that, the fact is many of us don’t quite know what it means.

A few statistics from the US Green Building Council can put what green building advocates are doing in context. The organisation is behind the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design building certification programme: a rating system for buildings designed, constructed and operated for improved environmental and human health performance.
The USGBC presents some eye-opening facts.
In the United States alone, buildings account for:
• 72 per cent of electricity consumption,
• 39 per cent of energy use,
• 38 per cent of all carbon dioxide emissions,
• 40 per cent of raw materials use,
• 30 per cent of waste output (136 million tons annually), and
• 14 per cent of potable water consumption.

Designers of a green building, whether it’s an office or a home, or even a commercial property, think about a multitude of elements they can incorporate into the project that can reduce its impact on the planet.
Cindy O’Hara, managing director of Design Cayman and the lead architect on the new government building, lists just a few:
Situating the building to take advantage of natural recourses and indigenous landscape considerations;
Water efficiency and reuse;
The use of renewable energy or green power;
Minimizing the use of refrigerants that contain ozone depleting and direct global warming potential;
Considering materials and resources that include recycled content and rapidly renewable materials;
Improved indoor environmental quality, including maximizing day lighting, exterior views and thermal comfort while eliminating pollutants.
“These considerations among others are incorporated into the principles of LEED,” she says.

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