Sustainability is a growing concern among facility managers, and some have begun experimenting with natural and ecologically friendly building solutions as part of their effort to go green. Such vegetative structures and green building installations are still new and in many cases not widely understood. However, such fixtures have been found to provide significant benefit to the health of both the occupants and the overall building itself. If it's time to consider your capital planning maintenance operations, you may find green building installations to be of value to your school facility.
Many administrators may balk at the cost associated with the installation and upkeep of natural systems, but institutions have recently implemented some measures with success. The University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan recently partnered with local area high school students to install a rooftop garden as a vegetative roof system. The garden cost around $10,000 to install, but brings with it benefits to the building itself.
Such living roofs are instrumental in reducing storm water runoff, as water that would be flowing through drainage pipes and gutters is instead absorbed by the plants, which significantly reduces the load on the drainage system. Additionally, the layer of plants serve as extra insulation, reflecting heat in the summer months, which keeps buildings cooler, reducing spending on air conditioning and improving overall energy efficiency.
Aside from the obvious environmental benefits, such as filtering air to remove pollutants, a green roof can also extend the life of the roof, thus saving money down the road on corrective maintenance.
Many living installations capitalize on the innate relationship people have with nature as a way to improve overall health. Some public institutions have implemented green parks, which have cropped up in highly urbanized areas as a means to improve health and quality of life for the community members, The Washington Post reported.
Providing people with green space is thought to improve health on a variety of fronts: areas for yoga, exercise and dance can help kids battle obesity and diabetes, two lifestyle-related conditions that have exploded into epidemic status in recent years. Especially in highly urbanized environments, air pollution, smog and dirty water runoff can create health risks that can be mitigated by plants, acting as an air and water filtration system.
There are important mental health benefits as well. Exposing people to more natural environments and natural light can be important steps in improving mental wellbeing, and may be instrumental in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety, according to an article from Harvard Health Publications.