Sustainable building design, translated

The building I work in was built in such a way as to be considered "sustainable design". It's supposed to be more eco-friendly, and it has certification that "recognizes excellence in energy and environmental performance".

Which is awesome. I mean, I'm all about the environment. I love that shit. It's about time that someone recognized that maybe we can live in straw bale houses but we definitely can't work there, so maybe let's get on top of making commercial buildings that aren't a giant blight on the face of the earth.


It turns out that sustainable design in a commercial building is really awesome in theory.

Like communism. Or shapewear.

But in reality, sustainable design for a commercial building is a clusterfuck of failed expectations and broken dreams.

(Also like communism. And shapewear.)

For example.

Energy efficient ceramic heating and cooling ceiling tiles: These sound brilliant, right? Dual purpose! Energy efficient! The cold air falls from the ceiling so you don't have to expend energy forcing it upwards!

What that actually means: Well, what that actually means is that it doesn't work very well. We are a province of temperature extremes. The 'heating' portion seems to do ok - we don't freeze in the winter, exactly - but the cooling portion sucks so bad that they've had to install a series of smaller standalone A/C units. Which sort of defeats the whole environmentalism thing. Also, it's not humid here by any stretch, but the ceiling tiles acquire condensation, forcing us all to watch out for drips and occasionally run a mop over them. It looks super profesh when you've got a number of buckets catching drips in your boardroom and your CEO is mopping the ceiling, I gotta say.

Bathrooms fitted with low-flow taps and waterless urinals to conserve water. Low-flow taps are tried and true. In a house environment, anyway. Where you aren't sharing your germs with 500 of your best friends. I think the 8 colds I had last year and the little signs they put up next to them at the office reminding us all to wash for ages to prevent germs speak for themselves though.

I don't think I can even sell the positive on that second part, because WATERLESS URINALS. What washes the urine down the urinals you ask? Well, more urine of course. What dries on the way down and consequently smells like a well-trafficked outhouse in August?

That was a rhetorical question.

Fun fact: I made that exact complaint to our office manager who then included it in her maintenance request to building management. There's paperwork floating around somewhere with the words "well-trafficked outhouse in August" - my legacy, y'all! Maintenance came out to "fix" it, so now it smells like the same outhouse in June...covered in fake flowers.

I'm beginning to understand why Greenpeace does most of their office work on a boat.