Summertown Interiors, the international corporate turnkey interior fit-out contractor, is the first company of its kind in the region to be awarded LEED Gold Certification. LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a building rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) which outlines standards required for carrying out environmentally sustainable construction.
“Taking into consideration that buildings account for approximately 40% of the consumption of raw materials and energy, the building and interiors sector plays an integral role in contributing to environmental sustainability. For Summertown, the urgency to become a part of the environmental sustainability movement regionally was a strong contributing factor in our decision to become a part of this LEED standard,” commented Marcos Bish.
He added, “Summertown has adopted LEED as an opportunity to lead our industry by example. To deliver solutions within budgets to companies looking to convert their offices into LEED-compliant facilities, we have to also abide by LEED requirements. We also deliver on conventional interior fit outs, but with the growing awareness of environmental sustainability, and an increasing regional emphasis on green rating systems for buildings and interiors, Summertown has the experience and certification to meet these eco-friendly requests. There are several levels of environmental sustainability that a company can employ in its offices; it need not be an ‘all or nothing’ mentality. Companies that are looking for this kind of solution on any level are thinking with regard to long-term returns, and as environmental sustainability decreases operating expenses, in addition to a multitude of other economic benefits, the green solution is gaining a foothold here in the region.”
The greatest challenge for the new Summertown office in the Jebel Ali Free Zone was to design it within a set of LEED and budgetary parameters without compromising the look and feel of the facility. The overall concept for the office was to come up with energy efficient, environmentally friendly, and cost effective designs. The most important characteristics are to incorporate water efficiency, optimize energy performance, minimize energy use, increase usage of material with recycled content, deliver efficient waste management, and improve indoor environmental quality. For energy conservation, the Summertown office focuses on natural light; there are also day light control sensors dimming or increasing light intensity in accordance with available sunlight. In order to improve indoor air quality, there are CO2 sensors in place to monitor CO2 content indoors regulating fresh air in case the CO2 content should increase. Sensor controls in the bathrooms control water usage, keeping it to a minimum. By installing the water-efficient fixtures, Summertown has reduced water consumption by 30%. Furthermore the building has a central Building Management System.
Overall, green certified buildings tend to command higher rents than comparable buildings with the added value that reduced energy costs have a positive impact on the bottom-line. While the LEED Gold standard compliance initially costs an additional 5 to 15% to fit out, the expected return on investment period is a maximum of 5 years in a facility that has a much longer life span as a result of its sustainable design. Additionally, improved indoor environmental quality results in higher employee productivity. With a healthier environment to work in, employees tend to be able to concentrate better, and take less sick-leave. Summertown also adds to its employee-morale by treating factory workers to entertainment such as desert safari trips, and commemorates each employee’s birthday with a personal card and gift.
“Since joining Summertown, I enjoy being at the office; I feel better, the atmosphere is inviting, clean, healthy, and I find the people friendly, relaxed and motivated. As a full time employee, I spend more time at work than I do at home, so Summertown’s focus on LEED certification and an eco-friendly environment is an important part of my job satisfaction,” said Sujatha, Summertown Interiors, Accountant.
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