Since the energy crisis of the 1970s, when green building practices first began to advance from a novel idea to a practical reality, companies have quickly began to see the measurable benefits of designing and building commercial spaces that greatly reduce the negative impact on the environment.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, in the United States buildings account for 39 percent of all energy use, 68 percent of total electricity use, 12 percent of water use and 38 percent of carbon dioxide emissions. If a few solar panels could make buildings more efficient, lower energy bills and reduce a company's footprint, designers and builders wondered, what else could be done to reduce reliance of buildings on fossil fuel?
Today, eco construction includes a growing list of products and processes that not only reduce costs and waste, but also encourage employees and clients to have a top-of-mind green awareness and improve relationships with the entire business community.
Apply this thinking to a 94,348-square-foot warehouse with additional office space, and the efficiencies realized by investing in green construction are especially apparent, says Tim Jacobson, CEO of American Fast Freight (AFF), of the green warehouse and shipping terminal his company completed last year in the developing community of Fife, Wash., next to the Port of Tacoma. The new facility covers 20 acres of property and employed 160 people during construction.
AFF's core business is in ocean-freight transport to the Jones Act (offshore) markets of Alaska, Hawaii, Guam and Puerto Rico. It operates several container-freight stations in Seattle-Tacoma, Oakland and Long Beach, Calif. In Alaska, terminals are located in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Kenai-Soldotna. Hawaii operations are centered in the Honolulu facility. The company handles all types of product shipments including most consumables, retail merchandise, perishables, recreational equipment, health aids, construction materials, marine-fishing supplies and oversize shipments, boats and vehicles.
As Kermit the Frog laments, Jacobson says, it's not easy being green, especially in the transportation industry where the business relies heavily on consuming fuel and energy. Buildings use resources such as energy, water and raw materials, generate waste (occupant, construction and demolition), and emit potentially harmful atmospheric emissions. The challenge is to build...