It seems like every project that comes across my desk has a stated goal of attaining some level of LEED Certification (LEED Silver, Gold, Platinum, whatever). We’re talking K-12 schools, universities, healthcare facilities, churches – they’re all “going green.” But how much does all this stuff cost? And can green design really save you some green $$$?
Putting politics aside, there are a lot of great reasons to go green with your next architectural project – and probably the biggest reason is money. There are many acoustical products that double as thermal insulators, giving you a double bang for your buck. That is, you get a better environment due to the acoustical absorption, and you get lower utility bills due to the increased insulation. In addition, a good acoustical environment improves the experience that guests have while they’re in the building, creating a stress-free atmosphere for all to enjoy. And that makes every building more sustainable.
Most of these acoustical features are designed to go unnoticed. It’s kind of like being a referee at a basketball game – if no one notices you, you’re probably doing a great job. For example, if a building has good exterior noise isolation, then unwanted sounds (from planes, trains, and automobiles) are kept out of the building. Inside, the occupants reap the benefits of the peaceful environment, but are largely unaware of the factors saving them from the outside noise pollution. Whether noticed or not, architectural acoustics always increase the lifespan of the building, and the savings (in lower utility bills) are multiplied each year.
Even AV equipment can be “green.” At Acoustics By Design, we continuously research and recommend equipment that reduces power consumption. For some projects, distributed power speakers can reduce electrical draw and virtually eliminate cooling costs. For projectors, that means bulbs that last longer and save on replacement costs. For digital signage, it means systems that save energy by auto-dimming to account for ambient light or turn off automatically at night when the building is unoccupied.
Although these systems can carry a higher up-front investment, they are proven to save money in operational costs long term. So it’s true: you really can save some green $$$ when you go green. As a member firm of the U.S. Green Building Council, and with a LEED Accredited Professional on staff, it is our responsibility to design systems that are sustainable – for the client and for our planet. We are Acoustics By Design; this is what we do.