Green building involves creating efficient structures that can protect our environment and save resources in the process. Green buildings can be created in a variety of a wide variety of sizes and shapes for homes, schools, hospitals, commercial buildings, temporary structures and beyond.
Green (a.k.a. sustainable) building practices, as well as green buildings themselves, not only help protect the environment, but can also reduce overall operating costs and improve quality of life for workers. Over the last few years, these building practices have seen a marked growth in popularity as many are looking to reduce their carbon footprints, save energy and help to improve our world.
For modular building, mobile offices, classroom trailers and other mobile office solutions, going green can be a great way to go! How so? Let’s find out!
What Does It Mean to be Green?
Green building practices can be part of the:
- Design process.
- Construction of structures.
- Renovation of current facilities.
- The removal of old structures.
So, there are a wide variety of ways to go green. For instance, sustainable materials such as recycled, reused or renewable resources may be used during the construction process. Structures may be created to minimize pollutants by reducing overall emissions, and certain landscaping methods may help cut back on water usage. In addition, many companies are looking to provide the buildings themselves with green capabilities, such as energy efficiency, water conservation and much more, as we’ll discuss below.
Be sure to take a look at the green building section of EPA.gov, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) website and GreenBuilding.com to learn more about residential and commercial environmentally-friendly buildings.
A Note on the Importance of Air Quality
Indoor air quality can be affected by a wide variety of factors, including gases (carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, etc.), microbial contaminants (mold or bacteria), particulates (tiny particles of solid or liquid matter) and odors. In order to lessen damaging buildup of contaminants like these in modular buildings, portable classrooms and office trailers, fresh air needs to be taken in and re-circulated on a consistent basis, and tactics such as proper filtration, ventilation and source control need to be utilized.
A Focus on Portable Classrooms
Approximately 51 million people in the U.S., primarily children, head to a school building on a daily basis. A recent Air Resources Board (ARB) and Department of Health Services (DHS) study that reviewed environmental health conditions in portable classrooms in California (using two mobile classrooms and one traditional classroom at hundreds of schools across the state) yielded a number of important findings about air quality, including:
- Toxic residues of substances such as arsenic, lead and pesticides were found in measurable amounts in floor dust (normally tracked in from outdoor dirt).
- In four percent of the classrooms, concentrations of formaldehyde exceeded the level cited as a guideline for the prevention of throat, nose and eye irritation. Nearly all of the classrooms in the study exceeded the level recommended for the prevention of cancer and other long-term health issues.
- Mold was found in approximately one-third of classrooms (attributed mainly to improper maintenance).
Ways to Improve Air Quality
In order to create a healthier environment for workers, customers, students and beyond, companies such as Triumph Modular use elements such as:
- Improved ventilation systems.
- Mold-resistant dry wall.
- Low- or no-VOC solvents, paints and other products, which emit little or no volatile organic compounds.
When used in mobile classrooms, these features have been shown to reduce headaches, asthma, allergies and other health issues in students and teachers.
Green Building and Mobile Office Solutions
Many providers offer sustainable options for modular building, mobile offices, classroom trailers and other such mobile office solutions for a wide variety of industries. Some of these companies offer trademarked specialized green products with unique names, while other companies offer slightly more standard packages meant to give you the green features you desire, but without breaking the bank in the process! So, your options depend greatly on the providing company, as well as the products you are interested in.
Let’s take a broad look at some common offerings.
There are a wide variety of options for mobile offices for retail, manufacturing, construction and other industries. For those who are looking to become more environmentally conscious, these temporary mobile offices can be a great place to start.
Depending upon the providing company, you’ll get a variety of features and amenities, such as:
- Motion sensor lighting, which will turn off lights if no one is in the area or there is already enough natural light available.
- Programmable thermostats. Certain models have an occupancy sensor that will shut off the HVAC when no one is around.
- Weather protection.
- Energy saving lighting, such as T-8 fluorescent bulbs.
- Bathroom upgrades meant to save water and energy, like instant water heaters, metered faucets, low-flow water closets (operating at only 1.1 gallons per flush), high-efficiency toilets (HET).
- Insulation upgrades, such as vinyl covered gypsum for the interior walls.
- Sun tunnels that reduce the need for artificial lighting.
- Solar and other such renewable energy systems.
- Reused/recycled materials, including HRC ceiling panels and reclaimed furnishings and water systems.
- Water conservation.
- Specialized roofing materials, like using white reflective roof covering in order to reduce the cooling load during hot summer months.
Triumph Modular’s NextGen Green Mobile Office is loaded with many of these as both standard and optional features. Williams Scotsman also has a line of green mobile offices called reMod™ that meet the requirements for varying levels of LEED® certification.
Permanent and Temporary Modular Building
Modular building consists of creating modules (basically, three-dimensional sections) in an indoor plant environment and then assembling these modules into a structure on site. This process can save you both time and money and result in a temporary structure for short-term needs or a permanent structure meant to last for the long haul.
Modular building is an inherently a green process, offering benefits including:
- Minimal site disturbance (less dust, traffic, injuries, etc.).
- Increased efficiency.
- Minimal waste (because of the pre-fab modular building process).
As a result of theses features, you won’t need to look very hard for green modular building: It will come to you as part of the overall construction process! ModSpace, a Pennsylvania-based prefab building company, aims to be a leader in the green building industry. They incorporate as much reused, recycled and low- or non-toxic materials as they can into their modular buildings.
Green Classroom Solutions
For education, it appears that sustainable designs will soon be the norm–hopefully in the near future! Environmentally sound and energy-efficient classrooms may include:
- Renewable energy sources.
- Energy-efficient lighting and sensors, in addition to energy-efficient HVAC units.
- Low or no VOC emitting solvents, paints and sealants to improve air quality for students and teachers.
- Low-E windows (low emissivity glass actually lets visible light pass while keeping heat indoors (for winter months) and sun and heat reflected out (for summer months)).
- Increased window sizes (in order to let in more light).
- Recycled materials (floors, walls, etc.).
Triumph Modular’s CASE 21 classrooms are built in accordance with the guidelines and performance criteria of the LEED® Green Building Rating System. Williams Scotsman also offers green classrooms and is working to develop more advanced green building solutions for schools. These green solutions can work for a wide variety of educational levels, as well as for both public and private schools – read more about mobile classrooms here.