How to Make Commercial Buildings More Green?

Offices and commercial buildings have a major impact on environment. Designing sustainable buildings not only augurs well for the environment, but also improves the company's profit over time. For long, green construction was mostly limited to homes. However, with time, the concept is fast catching up during construction of commercial apartments. Let's take a look how real estate developers are making office buildings more green.

Green roofs

Eco-friendly advances do not just focus on the building's structure and architecture. It starts from the top. Layers of plants and grass on the top moderate outdoor heat during summer and retain warmth during winter. Though such roofs are expensive, yet they reap benefits in the long run.

Living walls

Vegetation covers living walls. These walls improve air quality and reflect solar radiation. The walls absorb rainwater and play a big role in reducing building temperature. The walls improve the overall aesthetics of a room and act as effective noise barriers.

Passive solar building design

In this type of design the walls, floors and windows distribute solar energy in the form of heat in winter and reject it during summer. Sun is a part of the building's lighting in this design. Although complicated, passive solar building design does not cost much. An apartment using this design uses materials that have high thermal mass along with large windows and deciduous plants on its southern side.

Smart lighting

Lighting is an important aspect of eco-friendly buildings. Developers are installing automated systems that turn off lights when not required. A green commercial property focuses more on using natural daylight to cut the dependence on artificial lights during the day.

Smart glass

Small glass or electrochromic glass allows users to control the amount of heat or light passing through the glass. Through these glasses, one can regulate temperature of the room. These glasses, based on the principle of electrochromism, change their opacity or color when electricity passage through them. They save air-conditioning cost and most of them block the harmful ultraviolet rays.

Dual piping system

Green apartments focus on water conservation. Dual piping system is an effective way to conserve water. Water gets divided into two types – portable and reclaimed – in this system. While portable water is used for drinking, reclaimed water is used to clean toilets.

With time, green building has become a big business. In many countries of the world, developers get grants and incentives for construction of such apartments. Companies also look for eco-friendly buildings to conduct their business. Because of their huge benefits, the demand for these apartments will further rise in coming days.

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Engineering Surveys

Engineering surveys are those that are associated with all aspects of engineering design, such as topographic, as-built and layout. Engineering surveys are usually much more advanced than those created by civil engineers and serve additional purposes.

They must be connected by licensed surveyors. There are several exams and qualifications that a surveyor must attain before being able to practice engineering surveying in the USA.

What are they used for?

The main purpose of is to assess and determine the conditions of a building site either pre or post construction. They can also help assist builders, architects and civil engineers in preparing base plans.

Engineering and building surveys are an essential part of all large building constructions including roads, railways, dams, bridges and residential areas. Civil engineers in particular very heavily on them.


Engineering surveys are a very broad category and include a range of different types to suit different purposes.

Typically they can be divided into three survey categories: planning, design and construction.

Planning surveys are completed prior to construction work at a particular site. Within planning surveys there are also investigation and channel alignment surveys. Investigation surveys can include such elements as: vertical control, gully, valley and channel cross-section surveys, and reservoir area surveys. In many cases all these different types of engineering surveys will be required to get a full picture of the site situation.

Design surveys are a group of surveys that are done during the design phase of construction – after the planning have been completed. Types nclude: structure site and channel surveys.

Finally, construction surveys are a very important category of engineering surveys. These can be done both during and after construction has been completed. Their purpose is both to keep a check over the construction process as well as to maintain the buildings once they are complete. Embankment, principal spillway, existing channel and emergency spillways surveys are just some examples of construction surveys that may be required.


A variety of methods are used for conducting these surveys – and the methods will change depending on the particular job at hand.

One of the most modern and cost-effective methods of conducting engineering surveys is using a method called lidar surveying.

Lidar surveying uses three-dimensional scanners to provide high definition measurements for use. They provide the highest possible level of detail for both interior and exterior buildings. This method, however, is only suitable for use with already-built buildings, not prior to construction.

Engineering surveys can cover a wide range of features relating to a building or construction site, even including the underground waterways. The types of features that they are required to add to their survey will influence what device and tools they use.

There are a range of apparatus used by professional surveyors , including theodolites, total stations, dopplers and GPS.

Some of the methods engineering surveyors may use include: differential leveling, which uses a tripod and mounted telescope to measure angles and lengths; and trigonometric leveling, using the mathematics of trigonometry.

There are also usually several people involved in the surveying process. Engineering and building surveys are very complex and can not be completed alone. Some of the workers that may be involved include: field engineers, hydrologists and planning engineers.

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Simple Residential Construction Schedule – Create Flow Chart

In the last article we discussed creating a list of work items for your construction schedule. In this article we will discuss creating a flow chart of your work items.

Before we begin I would like to make a few comments of commercially available scheduling programs including Microsoft Project. These programs are based on a scheduling process called Critical Path Method (CPM) which was developed prior to the widespread use of computers. CPM is a great tool.

The programs that are based on the method are complicated to use. When we tried to switch to one of these programs we found we were spending far more time on updating the schedule than working the schedule. The updating process often produced unexpected results. And printing the schedule was time consuming and it was difficult to see the overall picture from the printouts. The title of these articles includes the word "Simple" and the method I am proposing is far easier to create and control.

I have always preferred the low tech approach which is writing each work item on one of those little yellow sticky notes and then arranging the notes in the order the work is preformed. If you do this on a large sheet of paper you can then connect the yellow sticky notes with lines and you have your flow chart. The advantage of the sticky notes is you can see the whole project as it develops and move the sticky notes to make corrections and revisions.

For the purpose of this exercise assume you complete one operation before you start the next. For example, list the rough plumbing; rough HVAC and rough electrical one after the other even though you are likely to overlap these items. In fact I highly recommend overlapping these trades because it will help them work as a team if they know each other. We will adjust for the overlap as we progress with the schedule.

Construction of the home, of course, does not take a single path from start to finish. When you have completed the roof interior construction and exterior construction take separate paths. Each will have its own path to completion. In our case the interior took much longer than the exterior

Once you have the entire schedule completed and you are confident it represents a practical schedule go back and add to each box (or sticky note) the number of days each work item should take and in parenthesis or with a different color the number of none overlapping days.

In the mechanical portion of the schedule the Plumbing, HVAC and Electrical would take fourteen work days if the work items were done one time at a time but can be completed in nine days by overlapping the work.

Next add up the non-overlapping days to complete each item on the flow chart so you have a starting work day for each work item. In the chart above the start work day is shown in bold just outside the upper left hand corner.

You now should have a practical road map to build the home but you are only half way there. Next you need to make sure all the materials are there when you need them. Go back to your list of work items and for each work item list any materials that need to be ordered and require a lead time. Some items will be obvious such as doors, windows and cabinets. Some are not so obvious. Do not absorb that items performed by subcontractors will be ordered by them. If you use a bath tub that requires three weeks lead time include it in the list.

I recommend you place orders for all critical items at the same time you start the project. Assuming you order all materials on day one of your schedule are there any items that will not arrive in time to be installed? When we started to use prefabricated wall panels and roof trusses we discovered that to get the drawing completed, approved by the municipality (many wanted to see design drawings on the trusses), into production and delivered took longer than building the foundation. We needed to order the wall panels and trusses more than ten days before we started the home or we had to wait for the materials. You can add boxes to your sticky note schedule (blue boxes on chart) if it helps you identify the flow and any lead time problems. I always add a box for confirming the order of critical item. To determine the start calculate backwards from the day you need to item on the jobsite.

Assuming I have made all this clear enough to follow you should have your complete road map of the construction project for your typical house. In my next article on scheduling I will address putting this all into an easy and usable format.

Original Content copyright 2011 Thomas Robinson

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