Commercial Buildings

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Commercial Buildings

A commercial building definition is one in which at least 50 percent of its floor space is used for commercial activities, such as retail, the providing of services, or food service (restaurants and the like)

For example, a building in New York City that is 10 stories high with 6 of floors being dedicated to apartments or residential dwellings, with the remaining 4 floors being dedicated to commerce, would not be considered a commercial building.

Additionally, a commercial building (or, land) may also be defined as a space that has the potential for being one that brings in income.

Types of Commercial Properties

Within the scope of commercial properties, there are generally six different types:

Sustainable Commercial Building

With energy prices forecast to rise for the foreseeable future and increasing interest in environmentally responsible “green” buildings, it is critical that such buildings be energy efficient; unfortunately, this is not always the case. Because a building can gain green certification based on environmental factors other than energy efficiency, a building certified as green may actually not be any more energy efficient than a typical, non-green building.

When considering the green attributes of a potential investment property, energy efficiency should come first–it should provide the cornerstone of a property’s green rating and be of paramount consideration to any investor undertaking a green real estate purchase or development. Energy efficiency is important not only because of the environmental concerns surrounding energy use, but because among all potential environmental facets of a green building it provides by far the most economic return. Cash flow and profitability resulting from building green are largely derived through energy savings.

The Energy Factor

Commercial buildings account for 18 percent of total energy consumption and contribute an estimated 15 percent of   greenhouse gas emissions. When considered over a building’s 40-50 years lifespan, the energy-related environmental impacts of a building’s operations dwarf the impact of energy and fossil fuels consumed during its construction. Reducing a building’s energy consumption has a major beneficial impact on the environment.

Energy consumption represents 30 percent of typical commercial office building’s operating costs, making it the single largest controllable cost of operations, so improved energy efficiency has a direct and substantial payback for investors.

Consequently, one of the strongest selling points for green construction is reduced operating costs from increased energy efficiency. In fact, much of the “business case” for green buildings is founded on the assumption that a certified green building will be more energy efficient that a conventional building. However, this assumes that all certified green buildings have scored meaningful points for energy-efficient design and actual energy performance.

Renewable energy systems

Large commercial buildings can hold thousands of workers, and therefore require a large amount of heating and power. It’s important to put systems in place to save these resources where possible, and source them in a more sustainable way.

Building managers must ensure all equipment uses the most up-to-date technology, which can significantly increase efficiency. For example, air source heat pumps (ASHPs) can absorb heat from the outside air, which is renewable, and use it to heat the internal building.

This heating method is highly efficient, with every kilowatt of electricity supplied producing two to three kilowatts of heat. The process can also provide air cooling and water heating depending on the model, and even work in minus temperatures.

Green solutions

Green roofs, also known as living roofs, involve covering flat or slightly sloped roofs with a waterproof membrane and then cultivating a layer of vegetation on top. The systems deliver an environmental benefit by removing CO2 from the surrounding air and lowering energy usage by adding extra building insulation.

Living roofs also present ecological benefits because they can provide a stepping-stone habitat for wildlife. Business benefits include lower energy bills and increased soundproofing, with just twelve centimetres of substrate reducing sound by around 40 decibels.

Additionally, a rain harvesting system can be fitted to the top of the building. Rain harvesting systems collect rainwater that falls into the gutter and transport it to a storage tank. The stored rainwater can be pumped out when needed, and used for various, non-potable uses such as flushing toilets. By incorporating rainwater into the building’s water supply, reliance on mains water supply can be reduced by around 40 per cent.

Eco building materials

Embodied carbon is a significant concern in the construction industry, which is already renowned for its high levels of emissions. And it’s not just carbon we should worry about; building materials can use glues and solvents that contain volatile organic compounds (VOC), which can form ozone and particulates in the atmosphere, as well as being harmful to human and animal health.

In addition, large volumes of building materials can go to waste, ending up in landfill. most recent figures found that construction, demolition and excavation generated 62 per cent of waste. To combat this waste, sustainable buildings must be built using materials that have a lower environmental impact.

Widely recyclable materials, for example, are an ideal starting place for designers who require durable materials that are better from a recyclability standpoint. Aluminium has one of the highest recycling rates of any metal, namely because its scrap still contains a high value. This means that used aluminium can be melted and reused, without diminishing its original qualities.

Furthermore, recycling aluminium only requires five per cent of the energy consumed during its initial creation, and recycling one tonne of the material saves 15,000 kilowatt hours of electricity, making excellent environmental and financial sense.

The benefits of Green Commercial Buildings

The world over, evidence is growing that green buildings bring multiple benefits.

They provide some of the most effective means to achieving a range of global goals, such as addressing climate change, creating sustainable and thriving communities, and driving economic growth.

Highlighting these benefits, and facilitating a growing evidence base for proving them, is at the heart of what we do as an organisation.

The benefits of green buildings can be grouped within three categories: environmental, economic and social. Here, we provide a range of facts and statistics from various third-party sources that present these benefits.


One of the most important types of benefit green buildings offer is to our climate and the natural environment. Green buildings can not only reduce or eliminate negative impacts on the environment, by using less water, energy or natural resources, but they can – in many cases – have a positive impact on the environment (at the building or city scales) by generating their own energy or increasing biodiversity.

At a global level:

  • The building sector has the largest potential for significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions compared to other major emitting sectors
  • This emissions savings potential is said to be as much as 84 gigatonnes of CO2 (GtCO2) by 2050, through direct measures in buildings such as energy efficiency, fuel switching and the use of renewable energy
  • The building sector has the potential to make energy savings of 50% or more in 2050, in support of limiting global temperature rises to 2°C (above pre-industrial levels)

At a building level:

  • Green buildings achieving the Green Star certification in Australia have been shown to produce 62% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than average Australian buildings, and 51% less potable water than if they had been built to meet minimum industry requirements.
  • Green buildings certified by the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) results in energy savings of 40 – 50% and water savings of 20 – 30% compared to conventional buildings in India.
  • Green buildings achieving the Green Star certification in South Africa have been shown to save on average between 30 – 40% energy and carbon emissions every year, and between 20 – 30% potable water every year, when compared to the industry norm.
  • Green buildings achieving the LEED certification in the US and other countries have been shown to consume 25 per cent less energy and 11 per cent less water, than non-green buildings.

Promote Health and Well being

  • Bringing fresh air inside
  • Delivering good indoor air quality through ventilation
  • Avoiding materials and chemicals that create harmful or toxic emissions.
  • Incorporating natural light and views to ensure building users’ comfort and enjoyment of their surroundings
  • creating the right indoor temperature so that people are comfortable.


Green building benefits go beyond economics and the environment, and have been shown to bring positive social impacts too. Many of these benefits are around the health and wellbeing of people who work in green offices or live in green homes.

Green Buildings Vs. Conventional Buildings

The main benefits of a green building when compared to a conventional building

Environment friendly

  • conserves natural resources like water and energy
  • Generates less waste and pollution

Cost Saving

  • uses energy and water efficiently

Health benefits

  • Provides healthier spaces for occupants

Commercial development to create healthy environments

Commercial development projects require the best quality, but also expertise on how to create buildings that work sustainably for commercial purposes. At Alpin, that’s our specialty.

We have worked on a wide range of cutting edge sustainable offices that are both environmentally and commercially justifiable. Our designs cleverly use natural lighting, ventilation and grey-water recycling to reduce running costs and emissions, resulting in a happier, healthier working space, as well as increases in your building valuation, more attractive rental spaces, and higher sales prices.

Our commercial development services include our cutting-edge expertise in helping projects achieve their sustainability goals and increase their ROI. Our services for the commercial sector include:


Green certifications

Want to achieve a green certification for your building? Our green consultants have decades of experience helping projects just like yours achieve certifications like LEED and Estidama.

WELL certification

Want to create a space that’s optimized for people’s wellbeing and productivity? Our WELL services help you achieve your goals.


Our commissioning services help you set up and execute commercial development projects that save costs and have long-term benefits like resource savings.


Our BIM services help you use 3D and 6D Building Information Management technology to visualize your project at the planning stage.

Building performance

We help you optimize your building’s performance at the planning stage and when your building is fully operational.

Alpin Innovation Labs

Have a project that requires the latest technology? Alpin Innovation Labs is our innovation department. We offer services like commercial drone inspections and more.

We’ve worked on several of the region’s most prominent development projects in the commercial sector. Here are some commercial development examples:

Our Case Studies

2D Interior Design Offices

Al Hilal Bank

Masdar Institute Neighborhood

Media Zone – Yas Island

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