Throughout history, building design and construction has adapted to reflect design trends, technological advances, and most importantly, to address social needs. For example, take the evolution of the skyscraper in the early 1900s. As more and more Americans flocked to major cities, available real estate became harder to come by. With the addition of new steel framing technology, the concept of the skyscraper became possible — capturing exponential growth within a contained footprint.
Today, builders are focused on reducing a different kind of footprint: our environmental footprint. It may come as no surprise that the “green” movement is becoming more mainstream — however, in most cases, energy-reducing technologies have become a standard requirement in today’s building codes. This is due in part to continually emerging technologies that are not only lowering our impact on the environment, but are also minimizing overall operating costs.
At Plymouth Harbor, residents and employees alike have made conservation efforts a priority in recent years. The same rings true in the construction of our Northwest Garden building, which has incorporated many green elements. Some of these conservation items include:
Our overall building site uses recycled crushed concrete as the base material for pavement; a portion of the new asphalt also uses recycled materials; the landscaping that has been selected is indigenous to Florida (reducing water usage); and demolished concrete and asphalt are diverted to local landfills for recycling. Additionally, building materials, including all concrete, CMU block, and asphalt are produced locally, and any raw materials, are sourced from Florida. The new structural steel is made up of recycled material, and all paints, sealants, and adhesives are low odor and low VOC (volatile organic compounds) — limiting the release of toxic emissions into the air.
Energy conservation in the exterior of the Northwest Garden is mainly exemplified in the form of insulation. The exterior windows are insulated to minimize heat gain from the sun, keeping a cool temperature throughout the building. The same can be said for the roof and exterior wall insulation. You also may have noticed a white material incorporated into the building’s roofing system — this material helps to reflect rather than absorb heat from the sun.
Inside the building, you will find elements such as LED lightbulbs, low-flow plumbing fixtures, and occupancy sensors to control the lighting of appropriate common areas when not in use. In the building’s garage, electric car-charging stations are available. The exact number and locations are being determined.
Furthermore, non-residential HVAC units are controlled by a building automation system. This is connected to the campus energy system rather than adding remote equipment, which would require additional power. An Energy Recovery Ventilation (ERV) system is also being used, which exchanges the energy contained in normally exhausted building air and uses it to treat (or precondition) the incoming outdoor ventilation air in an HVAC system.
While this is certainly not a complete list of each and every green element used in the construction of our new Northwest Garden, we hope it provides a look into its sustainable design. We look forward to sharing many of these elements with you in person as we continue to approach our Grand Opening in November.