Jun 1, 2008 12:00 PM
Sustainability has become a very hot topic in today's business environment. At its most basic level, sustainability is defined as a characteristic or process that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
This concept, which can be traced back to a 1987 United Nations conference, came about as environmental problems caused by various human activities began requiring serious attention. The objective of sustainability is to have sustainable development by managing natural resources and using methods, systems, and materials that will not deplete resources or harm natural systems and cycles.
The convention workshop, Going Green, Developing Your Company's Corporate Environmental Policy, discussed specific actionable methods for greening cold storage facilities, reducing energy costs, and developing a reputation for corporate environmental responsibility. It was conducted by officials with Innovative Construction & Process Design (ICPD), a design and construction company for the retail, cold storage, refrigerated, and food industries.
Obviously, it is easier to build greener performing buildings than retrofit them, said the company's Steve Kelly. With new construction, there can be a designed-in integrated systems approach. The bigger challenge is greening existing commercial facilities, warehouses, distribution centers, and the like.
He pointed to the US Green Building Council (USGBC) as a good source for information. A non-profit organization, it is dedicated to expanding “green” building practices and education.
The group created the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System. It is a voluntary certification program and?the nationally accepted benchmark for design, construction, and operation of high-performance green buildings.
Buildings have a huge impact on the nation's resources, ICPD's Jeff Remtema noted. They account for 39% of carbon dioxide emissions, 71% of electricity consumption, 65% of waste output, and 12% of water use.
During the workshop, a number of recommendations were offered on how temperature-controlled operations can lessen their impact on the environment. The very first step, said Remtema, is to conduct an energy audit identifying energy conservation opportunities to minimize energy costs. Among the next steps:
Incorporate variable frequency drives and use high-efficiency motors to minimize energy use of equipment.
Make sure energy and water systems are installed and are performing properly.
Establish a best-practices systems maintenance and operation plan, and train employees annually on how to implement and update.
Use thermostat set-backs in office areas to conserve energy. Energy savings are typically 2 to 4 percent for every one degree of change over 24 hours for a building's heating/cooling expenses, he said.
Install metering equipment to allow a measurement and verification program of energy use.
Consider green power or on-site renewable energy systems.
Make use of heat recovery systems from energy of compressors for service or process water.
As for a facility's site and exterior environment, Remtema recommended using a white roof, or considering a vegetated roof to minimize impact on microclimate and human and wildlife habitat.
A white roof reflects the sun's rays, minimizing the heat absorbed by the building.
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